In the Sunday New York Times Metropolitan section, Kevin Baker remembers his friend of many years, Dennis Holt, who died last month. Baker paints a colorful portrait of Holt as “a classic New York eccentric” who once chased an intruder from his Boerum Hill townhouse while brandishing a Civil War era dress sword.
Baker also discloses that, as a student government leader at the University of Alabama in 1956, Holt faced down thugs who rioted when an African American woman, Autherine Lucy, attempted to enroll there. He later sponsored a resolution “that mob violence be denounced at the University of Alabama and that means be found to protect the future personal safety of the students, white or Negro — and the faculty and the reputation of the university.” He was also a national collegiate debating champion. Who knew?