Did Rutgers Find The Perfect President For 2020? Meet Jonathan Holloway, Black Historian.Historians in the News
tags: African American history, universities
The making of Jonathan Holloway
By the time he could walk, Holloway was already spending time with a “one-man movement” known as a champion of New Jersey’s disenfranchised.
Holloway’s mother was first cousins with Gus Heningburg Sr., a power broker and activist who helped integrate New Jersey’s construction trade and raised money for the NAACP legal defense fund.
At family reunions across the South in the 1970s and ’80s, the adults held court while the children listened to their stories, said Gus Heningburg Jr., who remains close with the Holloway family.
Heningburg Sr., who died in 2012, would often sit at the kids’ table. To Holloway, the man who led labor strikes and was once called in to quell a Rahway Prison riot was just “Big Gus, the really affable, uncle kind of figure,” Holloway remembered.
Heningburg Jr. said Holloway was the same then as he is now — quiet and cautious, a listener who always thinks before acting.
“Everything was always well-thought-out,” Heningburg Jr. said. “He was never the dude to just jump off the roof. There was science involved.”
If only they knew Holloway would become president of the flagship university in Heningburg’s home state.
“It is so surreal on so many different levels,” said Heningburg Jr., whose son was a Rutgers lacrosse standout. “Our family is crazy, dude.”
Holloway’s great-grandfather was president of Livingstone College, a historically Black college in North Carolina. William J. Trent, his grandfather, was the first executive director of the United Negro College Fund and served on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet, a “brain trust” of Black public policy advisors.
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