Fighting back tears, Annette Nance-Holt closed her eyes, took a breath and clutched the podium. On the 10-year anniversary of her son’s murder, the pain hadn’t subsided.
She, Blair Holt’s father and several other community and faith leaders gathered Wednesday morning outside Julian High School to unveil the honorary street named after the teenager at 103rd and Elizabeth.
“The pain is just unbearable,” Nance-Holt said. “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.”
Dozens of Julian High School students, Blair Holt’s friends and members of the Chicago Police and Fire departments also attended to offer support to the family.
Blair Holt was shot and killed May 10, 2007 on a CTA bus as he tried to shield a friend, Tiara Reed, from gunfire. Reed was shot in the foot. Three others were also injured.
Michael Pace was sentenced to 100 years in prison for the shooting.
Kevin Jones, who supplied Pace with the .40-caliber gun used in the crime, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2009 after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.
Holt’s father, Ronald Holt, is a Commander in the CPD’s Community Relations Division and has known Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson for years.
Johnson, who again called for harsher penalties for repeat gun offenders, said Blair Holt’s death “underscores how tenuous life can be.”
“Blair was a young man that had life by the tail,” Johnson said. “It still amazes me, the perseverance and the courage and the bravery that [Holt’s parents] show every single day. Every day.”
Speaking of Chicago’s entrenched gun violence during a prayer among the attendees, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, of St. Sabina Church, said, “We can stop this when we decide to stop this.”
Since her son’s death, Nance-Holt has become an outspoken advocate for victims and families affected by gun violence. Last year during the presidential campaign, she met with Hillary Clinton during a campaign stop in Chicago.