Longtime lawmaker, civil rights advocate Alvin Holmes dies

Former+Rep.+Alvin+Holmes%2C+a+Democrat%2C+represented+a+Montgomery+district+for+more+than+40+years%2C+spending+much+of+that+time+fighting+for+equal+employment+opportunities+for+Black+Alabamians+and+the+removal+of+racist+icons.+

Former Rep. Alvin Holmes, a Democrat, represented a Montgomery district for more than 40 years, spending much of that time fighting for equal employment opportunities for Black Alabamians and the removal of racist icons.

Reprinted from al.com

Former state Rep. Alvin Holmes of Montgomery, who served 44 years in the Alabama House of Representatives, a role he considered more civil rights advocate than legislator, has died.

Alabama Political Reporter reported that Montgomery Fire and Rescue responded to a call at Holmes’ residence today and found him unresponsive. He was 81.

Holmes served 11 terms in the House before losing his seat in 2018.

“Being a black legislator is more than just going up there and voting on a bill,” Holmes told AL.com in 2018. “I mean, you’re more of a civil rights leader than you are a legislator. You have to constantly remind departments in the state of Alabama that they don’t have enough blacks employed. The promotion of blacks. And I do that on almost a daily basis.”

Former state Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, who served for years with Holmes in the House and who spent time with Holmes’ family today, said Holmes was a fierce advocate and commanding presence in the State House.

“It’s a big loss to this state,” Knight said. “More importantly, it’s a loss to our community. Having a voice such as Representative Holmes as he has been for years has meant so much for civil rights, for equal opportunities. He’s been involved in so many things. And he was a fighter. You knew when Alvin was in the room and when he believed in an issue, there was no question about where he stood. And more importantly, when he would go to the mic he could hold his ground at the mic against anybody and stand up and debate the issues and try to get his point across.”

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said Holmes took strong stands on positions that helped the African American community as well as Alabamians across the board.

“Former Representative Alvin Holmes was not only a champion of civil rights in Alabama but he was also a champion of all taxpayers,” McCutcheon said in a statement. “He took stands to insure African Americans were treated fairly and that tax dollars were spent wisely. Representative Holmes could be forceful at times and give no ground on issues he was passionate about but no one ever questioned his sincerity. I was proud to call him a friend. My wife Debbie and I offer our sincere condolences to his family.”

Rep. Kirk Hatcher, D-Montgomery, who defeated Holmes two years ago to end his long tenure in the House, saluted Holmes for what he described as a life of public service.

“In 2020 we haven’t been losing simply lieutenants we’ve been losing generals,” Hatcher said. “And Representative Holmes was certainly that, a general, a warrior. Whatever one may think of him he was always fighting a good fight.

“I always think of Representative Holmes as not so much a politician but a public servant. He really did have a desire to serve the community. And I think a part of it for him had to do with the exposure to a lot of the things that happened when he was a student at Alabama State University and seeing and witnessing what Dr. King was doing. I think that further engendered his desire to serve.”

Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, chair of the Alabama Democratic Party, said in a statement: “Representative Alvin Holmes was a great Democrat and a fighter. He stood on the frontlines of the fight for civil rights and was willing to sacrifice everything in his fight for justice for all. He not only had a long and distinguished career as a civil rights leader, but also as a member of the legislature, serving his constituents faithfully and dutifully for 44 years. Alabama has lost a giant, whose wit, intelligence, fearlessness, selfless determination, and leadership will be sorely missed.

“My prayers are with his friends, family, and colleagues.”

Alabama State University President Quinton Ross, who served in the Legislature with Holmes, praised his former colleague, who was an Alabama State alumnus and taught history at the university.

“As an honored alumnus of ASU, Rep. Holmes dedicated his life to being a powerful champion for his district and for the citizens of the state of Alabama,” Ross said. “Rep. Holmes was a fighter. As his former colleague in the legislature, I witnessed his passionate representation first hand and always admired his tenacity and strength of purpose. The people of Alabama have lost a dedicated advocate and this University has lost a committed son.

“Our prayers are with his family.”

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said in a statement, “Former Representative Alvin Holmes dedicated his life to being the voice for those who had felt silenced for far too long. He stood staunch in the face of racism and sought to dismantle the machinery of segregation, hate and systemic injustice that plagued our state and our nation. Above all, Representative Holmes was a good man, a gifted orator and a great Montgomerian. Rest in power, Representative Alvin Holmes.