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Documentary Inspires New Generation at UGA

shraderAbigail Shrader, MSW'11

Contact: Emily Williams

Posted March 4, 2011

View a slideshow or see photos from the day on our Facebook page.

Students, faculty, staff and community members gathered to celebrate the life of Donald L. Hollowell, the legendary civil rights attorney who fought to desegregate UGA, at the premiere campus screening of Donald L. Hollowell: Foot Soldier for Equal Justice Feb. 22, 2011 in Masters Hall at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel. Several MSW students discussed the impact the film had on them.

Abigail Shrader, MSW '11 "I have a tremendous amount of reverence for Donald Hollowell who helped lay the foundation for social work practice today," said second-year MSW student Abigail Shrader in the opening remarks. "When the law was unjust he worked to change it and he did so with tireless eloquence, determination, courage and conviction. This film is a beautiful picture of what working for social change looks like."

Shrader talked about the emotions the images in the film evoked in her. "It's another world to me. It's very foreign. It's eerie. It's spooky," she said. She pointed out the irony in the Celebration of Courage currently taking place at UGA. Hollowell had fought the University in the 1950s and 60s for equal rights and 50 years later he is being honored for his courage in desegregating the University. "It's encouraging for me to see how far we've come and to think about what the next 50 years will bring," she concluded.

Christopher Stokes, a dual degree MSW/J.D. student, also offered opening remarks. "What struck me the most about this documentary was how well he was respected at such a young age," he said. "In his 40s, he was already arguing cases that would have a lasting impact on American society."

stokes

 

 

 

Christopher Stokes, MSW/J.D. '12

Stokes recalled a point in the film that left an impression on him as a budding attorney. "I can't imagine getting my law degree and having to try a case in the balcony like Mr. Hollowell was asked to," he said. "Mr. Hollowell not only blazed trails in regards to the law, but he also blazed trails in regards to legal representation here in the South and in the nation and for that I thank him."

Maurice C. Daniels, dean of the School of Social Work and director of the Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies (FSP) welcomed those gathered for event and Derrick P. Alridge, director of the Institute for African American Studies and professor in the College of Education introduced the film. Daniels and Alridge developed the film in collaboration with colleagues from various disciplines.

"It is very rewarding and fulfilling to bring Hollowell's activism and civil rights work in the 1950s and 1960s to a new generation," Daniels said in his welcome.

Alridge described Hollowell in his introduction of the film as an "enduring icon of the civil rights movement" for his work integrating the South, registering black voters across the nation and combatting racial discrimination. "The FSP did not have to travel far at all to discover Donald Hollowell, who was one of the most important and pivotal, yet uncelebrated foot soldiers of the civil rights movement," he added.

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Andrew Mayo, MSW'12

Andrew Mayo, a first-year MSW student, provided the closing remarks. Mayo thanked Hollowell for his work in the civil rights movement that made possible his ability to drink from an unlabeled water fountain, sit at the front of a bus and attend the University of Georgia. "I feel truly indebted to all that Hollowell has contributed as a foot soldier for social justice. The only way I can begin to make payment of such a debt, is to continue the work of Hollowell and fight for social justice as a student and soon to be social work professional," he said.
Donald L. Hollowell: Foot Soldier for Equal Justice chronicles Hollowell's achievements through his service as lead counsel in Holmes v. Danner, the landmark case that secured admission to the University of Georgia for Charlayne Hunter (now Hunter-Gault) and Hamilton Holmes, the first African Americans to register for classes at the University; his legal victory that won the release of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., from the Reidsville State Prison; and his effective defense of Preston Cobb, a 15-year-old black youth who was sentenced to die in Georgia's electric chair.

The film was narrated by Hunter-Gault, who went on to graduate from UGA with a journalism degree in 1963. As a journalist, she won Peabody and Emmy awards for her work. Others who played a key role in UGA's desegregation were interviewed in the film, including former Georgia governor, Ernest Vandiver; Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., and Federal Judge Constance Baker Motley, members of Hollowell's legal team in the Holmes case; Federal Judge Horace T. Ward, the first person to challenge UGA's discriminatory admissions policies and co-counsel in the Holmes lawsuit; and Judge William Bootle, the judge who handed down the desegregation decision.

The documentary was developed in partnership with UGA's Center for Teaching and Learning and the Russell B. Library for Political Research and Studies.

The event, co-sponsored by the School of Social Work, the Institute for African American Studies, the Office of Institutional Diversity and the Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies (FSP), is part of "Celebrating Courage," UGA's celebration of the 50th anniversary of its desegregation.