Story by Greg Glover Eyewitness News Anchor/Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Many times, he has been the calm voice in the midst of racial strife. Through the years, his gentle demeanor has been, oft called upon. Eddie Holmes is a leader, a mediator and a mentor for many and says God has always had a plan for his life.
Even after a lifetime of service, Eddie Holmes is still a little shy about being recognized for his work. "I think I was shocked. I was in awe. I couldn't believe it," he said as he described learning he had been nominated for the Jefferson Award.
From church deacon to Past President of the NAACP to current Chairman of the housing authority, Holmes says he got a sense of his life's direction on a visit to Washington, D.C. after high school and saw some things Chattanooga did not have. He explained, "There were not a lot of young black males stepping up the plate in terms of trying to help others. Our daily activities, you know, we played softball, we played baseball, we played football, those kinds of things, but I saw so many people hurting and they didn't have a voice. And one of the things I could always do was run my mouth, you know?"
Holmes put those skills of elocution to work, speaking up for the unheard voices. He still does, and though he has not been head of the NAACP for 8 years, he still takes calls. "And the reason I get these calls," he said, "I have an ear; I would listen. You know? I don't mind going to the schools to talk to the teachers or talk to the principal or talk to the superintendent. I think God has allowed me to address all these areas with comfort. And I don't view myself as being threatening, so that may be it." He ends that statement, as many, with a chuckle.
His influences were a coach, a Sunday school teacher and a businessman from church; all men with their families intact. An example Holmes emulated. Married almost 41 years to Fannie, he also helps care for his daughter who is afflicted with MS.
Holmes still speaks. He still mediates. He still leads the housing authority. Will Eddie he ever retire? "Well, I've tried," he admitted, "I've tried. But there's always a need. And when do you say, 'this is it?'"