By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
On Wednesday, a sunny and warm spring day, in front of Percy Julian High School a community remembered a fallen hero.
Blair Holt was not your typical “hero.”
The 16-year-old honor student did not charge into a fire to save a baby. He was not a soldier defending the nation. Instead, Holt paid the ultimate sacrifice by shielding a female schoolmate from a gang member who boarded a CTA bus and began firing at a rival. Four others were also injured by the shots; Holt was the only one who died.
The city honored his memory on Wednesday by placing an honorary street sign-Blair DeLane Holt Way- in the 1300 block of East 103rd in front of Percy Julian, the high school Blair Holt attended.
The teen’s father Ron Holt, a Chicago Police Commander, and his mother Annette Nance-Holt, a Chicago Fire Department Battalion Commander, were overwhelmed with the honor, presented 10 years to the day their son lost his life to Chicago’s street violence.
Both parents have been very public and vocal about the city’s crime problem since their son’s death. They hope the memory of their son will never be lost on others. “When they see that name, I’m talking about the would-be violent gun offenders, that you would think twice, three times…about carrying out a deadly and destructive act with a firearm,” Holt said. “These actions are destroying our families, our communities and our city.”
The Holts earlier in the week awarded three scholarships to deserving Julian students. Since Blair’s death they have been proactive in trying to reach at risk teens, like the one who took their son’s life. Michael Pace, convicted of killing Holt, is currently in Cook County Jail. He was sentenced to 100 years for Holt’s murder, but an appeals court ordered him to be resentenced.
“We’re going to keep fighting because I cannot stand to see another mother and father go through this in this city. Ten years later and the pain is still there,” Nance-Holt said.
Many of young Holt’s friends also attended the ceremony. One called Blair’s murder “senseless” and urged young people to get help when they are in pain and to seek alternatives to violence to resolve their differences. His friends say they have been inspired by his tragic death.
“I tell them all the time it would be a disservice to Blair’s spirit if they didn’t do something with their lives,” Ron Holt said.
Past and current students at Julian know the story of Blair Holt. This week in their classrooms they are doing a different activity every day that raises peace awareness. The students say violence in Chicago is still a reality they must face.
Nance-Holt said it is sad that another generation is growing up in a violent city. “To lose your legacy that you put so much into for something that didn’t have to happen. I think that hurts more than anything,” Nance-Holt said.