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Daniels Earns Pioneer Award at Emancipation Proclamation Observance

DanielsPosted Feb. 8, 2012
Reported by Emily Williams

Dean Maurice C. Daniels was honored with a Pioneer Award at the 22nd annual Emancipation Proclamation Observance at Hill Chapel Baptist Church Dec. 31. The event, themed "And Let Freedom Ring," recognized deserving citizens and organizations whose contributions have made a difference in the lives of others.

"My gratitude to the 22nd Annual Emancipation Proclamation Observance and Pioneer Awards Committee--It was deeply humbling to be recognized among such trailblazers and icons such as Dr. Joseph Lowery, Evelyn Neely, Virginia Walker, Tyrone Brooks, and other distinguished community activists," Daniels said. "The Emancipation Proclamation reminds us of how far we have come on the road to freedom and at the same time, paraphrasing Robert Frost, 'we have miles to go before we sleep'."

Over 300 people attended the event this year. Other honorees included:

The event was kicked off with a gospel concert by the Athens group Brotha and the Wardlaw Brothers of Lyons. Rev. Dr. Carolyn Ann Knight of Atlanta's Interdenominational Theological Seminary was the keynote speaker.

Daniels is the founder and director of The Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies and produced the Telly Award winning documentary Donald L. Hollowell: Foot Soldier for Equal Justice, which chronicles Hollowell's achievements through his service as lead counsel in Holmes v. Danner, the landmark case that secured admission to UGA 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. He also produced a documentary on Horace T. Ward, a retired federal judge who was turned down for admission to the UGA law school in the 1950s, but later was part of Hollowell's legal team, which overturned legal segregation at UGA.

Daniels also is a life member of the NAACP, a founding board member of the Athens-Clarke County Habitat for Humanity, and is active in other social reform organizations.

The School of Social Work recently established a distinguished professorship in honor of Hollowell, who also was posthumously honored at the event. His widow, Louise, spoke at the observance about her husband's role in the Civil Rights Movement. Obie Clayton, Jr. was hired this fall as the inaugural Donald L. Hollowell Distinguished Professor of Social Justice and Civil Rights Studies. Since assuming this role, Clayton has developed the Hollowell Lecture Series to annually invite nationally and internationally known experts who have conducted work in the civil and human rights and social and economic sustainability arenas.