Courtesy of Delaware State University
Delaware State University Arts/Center Gallery is currently exhibiting a collection of documents, articles and photos of the late Sen. Herman M. Holloway Sr. – the primary sponsor of the 1993 state legislation (Senate Bill 138) that elevated then-Delaware State College to Delaware State University.
A Sept. 13 program was held in recognition of the exhibition and to celebrate the life and legacy of Sen. Holloway, who was the first African American in Delaware to service as an elected State Senator – an elected office he served from 1964 until his passing in 1994.
Former state Rep. Nancy Wagner was one of the past legislators in attendance at the program who shared their reflections of Sen. Holloway. She was primary the House co-sponsor of the 1993 SB 138 along with Sen. Holloway.
During her time in the House of Representative, then-Delaware State College was a part of her legislative district. As Sen. Holloway was preparing to introduce SB 138 in the Senate, many in the House Democratic Caucus took the position that it was inappropriate for Rep. Wagner to be the primary House co-sponsor – because she was a Republican (Sen. Holloway was a Democrat).
“This went on for four or five days,” Wagner said. “Finally Sen. Holloway made his wishes known, and he said ‘this is Nancy Wagner’s district and she is going to be the primary House co-sponsor.’ And with that, all of the disagreement stopped.”
“I was honored to work with him. I think of him as a man who bridged a gap when everyone was not quite where they should have been in terms of understanding what was good for the state,” Wagner said. “But Sen. Holloway was able to make them listen, in an extremely well respected way, with a voice that everyone paid attention to. He got things done. He changed Delaware.”
Delaware State University has agreed to a request by the family of the late Senator to maintain and preserve the Holloway collection within its University archives. The Arts Center Gallery is exhibiting a portion of the collection from Sept. 11-22.
Herman Holloway Sr. was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1963, and the following year he was elected to the Delaware Senate – where he would going on to serve 30 years (from 1964 until his passing in 1994).
While Sen. Holloway authored the DSU bill and enacted other legislation that benefited the University, he was best known for his legislative effectiveness in the areas of Health and Social Service – so prolific that the Delaware Health and Social Services Campus near Wilmington is named after him.
He also authored numerous enacted bills in the areas of housing and child support, and he sponsored the originally enacted Freedom of Information Act bill as well. All told, Sen. Holloway primary sponsored 176 bills that were enacted into law during his Senate career.