Proud of Holt Collier and Greenville

To the editor:

I have never been as proud of, and especially for, Greenville as I was on Feb. 28 while I attended the dedication ceremony for the long-awaited grave marker of the former ex-slave and Confederate Army calvaryman Holt Collier.

This amazing man transcended social and racial barriers to become one of the truly great Greenvillians. His love of the Delta and his closest friends have been eloquently described in Minor Buchanan’s book “Holt Collier: His Life, His Roosevelt Hunts and the Origin of the Teddy Bear.”

Almost 200 people, both black and white, attended the ceremony on a beautiful spring-like day, one of which Holt would probably have been bear hunting if it were 100 years ago.

Much was said about the historically significant relationship between the races in Greenville and the ability to come together during times of strife and need.

This was a day of celebration when five different Sons of Confederate Veterans camps honored one of it’s own by placing a monument over his grave, firing three volleys of 21- gun salutes and playing Taps at the end of the service.

Holt Collier, ex-slave, not only rode with the Texas Calvary during the Civil War, but he rode and hunted with wealthy businessmen and plantation owners, United States senators and a sitting president.

He was invited to dinner as a personal friend of President Teddy Roosevelt at the White House in Washington, D.C., but declined to go (just maybe because he would rather have been bear hunting).

Because of Holt Collier, there are very few children who don’t grow up knowing the comfort of a “Teddy Bear.”

My wish is that Greenville can continue to grow and become one fluid community as we all, black and white, strive to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps as Holt Collier did on many a cold Delta morning in anticipation of baying hounds and running bears.

Hank Burdine


Originally published at