March 4, 1998

1998 Middlebury College Twilight Scholar: Activist and Comedian Henry Holden

Activist and comedian Henry Holden, Middlebury College's 1998 Twilight Scholar, will make a two-day visit to campus on March 16 and March 17, where he will meet students, faculty and staff to discuss attitudes within the entertainment and media industries toward people with disabilities, and to explore how those attitudes influence public perceptions. At 9 p.m. on Monday, March 16, Holden will perform a comedic routine titled "God Walks on Crutches" at the Middlebury College McCullough Student Center on Old Chapel Road, off South Main Street (Route 30). On Tuesday, March 17, he will give a slide and lecture presentation, "The Misconceptions Continue: How the Media Represents People with Disabilities," at 4:15 p.m. in the Coltrane Lounge in Middlebury College's Adirondack House, off College Street (Route 125). Both events are free and open to the public.

A comedian who is also an actor, activist, and athlete, Holden contracted polio at the age of four during the 1952 national polio epidemic. Yet, wearing braces and crutches has never stopped him from pursuing his dream of acting. Holden has broken new ground by appearing in prime-time programming not specifically calling for an actor with a disability. He has acted on numerous television shows, including "T.J. Hooker," "Hill Street Blues" and "Knot's Landing."

As an activist, he founded Disability in Media Everywhere (DIME) in an effort to eliminate the negative portrayals in the media of people with disabilities. Seeking to include persons with disabilities in television programming and advertisements, Holden has appeared on shows ranging from "Today" and "Entertainment Tonight" to numerous local news shows.

His unquenchable thirst for sport has resulted in countless athletic adventures, including certification for scuba diving, riding at the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden, skiing in Colorado, and finishing the Los Angeles Marathon.

Launched in 1995, the Twilight Program at Middlebury College was named in honor of Alexander Twilight, an African-American who graduated from the College in 1823. Historians believe Twilight was the first African-American to earn a degree from an American college or university. "The idea for the program came from faculty and others interested in enhancing the diversity of our faculty, and expanding our curricular offerings," said Leroy Nesbitt, special assistant to the president of the College.

For more information about Holden's visit to campus, please contact Elizabeth Christensen, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator, at 802-443-5851.