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MUSIC: THE CHOICE OF A LIFETIME Image Credits: “Let There Be Music: A Biographic Sketch of Zedekiah “Eli” Holmes As Told To Dr. J. Farley Ragland Like Zimri Holmes, his brother, Zedekiah, graduated from Christiansburg Industrial Institute (CII) and later returned to the school to teach. He taught music and led CII’s band and choir. Let There Be Music: A Biographic Sketch of Zedekiah “Eli” Holmes As Told To Dr. J. Farley Ragland 61 speaks to his professional life and educational philosophy. The book captures the essence of what it was like for him growing up in Christiansburg, VA. He discusses the ongoing emphasis placed on education by his family and his choice of music for his life-work. ROAR! “EDUCATION IS THE PASSPORT TO THE FUTURE, FOR TOMORROW BELONGS TO THOSE WHO PREPARE FOR IT TODAY.” MALCOLM X 62 Zedekiah said, “During my childhood days of growing up there were no integrated schools in my hometown, but there was an elementary school and a high school in our community for the Blacks. All six of the children had an opportunity to attend these schools. My parents were very anxious for all of us to get an education, and they worked very hard to accomplish this for their children.” THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 52

“My theory about success in life, first believe and trust in the good Lord, second one must possess a certain amount of innate ability, third he must like doing what he is doing, fourth one must believe in himself and last but not least he must be willing to work hard and practice every day.” 63 Zimri and Zedekiah both made those choices and thus, their children along with some of their nieces and nephews found their passions and made their life-work in education and music. Zedekiah had a love and talent for both baseball and music. Because of his dad’s advice and the fact that Blacks were not yet allowed to play for major league teams, he chose to fully pursue music from that point forward. Regardless of what he was doing during college, in the US Army, as a secondary school teacher or a college professor, he was all about music. ROAR! “MUSIC IS THE MOVEMENT OF SOUND TO REACH THE SOUL FOR THE EDUCATION OF ITS VIRTUE.” 64 PLATO 65 In 1951 he had the opportunity to leave CII and teach in another part of Virginia. In doing so, he said the following about his exodus: “It was difficult to leave Christiansburg Institute because the students, faculty, and the people in the community were wonderful to me. Sometimes in order to make progress, it is important to make a change.” His next gig was at James Solomon Russell High School in Lawrenceville, VA. From there he moved to Tennessee and taught at Knoxville College which is one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). He spent many years there and in the HBCU arena fulfilling his musical dreams and teaching students how to master their musical talents. He retired and returned home to Christiansburg, VA, where his life and love of music began. Perhaps, his story may have gone differently had there been an HBCU in his hometown. IVORY TOWERS FOR BLACKS: HBCUS Schools like Knoxville College were the only “ivory towers” for people of color during segregation. According to the US Department of Education, “HBCUs are a source of accomplishment and great pride for the African American community as well as the entire nation.” 66 Two articles in Richmond Magazine highlight the history and relevance of these institutions today, especially the ones in Virginia. The first selection, The Fierce Five: Virginia THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 53

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