An Unsung Hero

In recent years, some historians and filmmakers have begun to call attention to the many “foot soldiers” in the civil rights movement who have not been widely recognized or acclaimed. The Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies, a documentary and research program at the University of Georgia, joins this vanguard. The Foot Soldier Project is dedicated to chronicling Georgia’s rich history in the civil rights movement.

While Georgia is the home of numerous, nationally celebrated civil rights figures and events, many other Georgia trailblazers and significant events in the civil rights movement have been neglected or forgotten. The Foot Soldier Project focuses on these unsung foot soldiers, those individuals who, despite playing significant, powerful, and historic roles in the movement, remain largely obscure. It is crucial to recount the stories of these foot soldiers, for although their efforts have not been well documented or widely publicized, their courage and contributions have nevertheless transformed our nation.

The latest production of the Foot Soldier project is Donald L. Hollowell: Foot Soldier for Equal Justice. Narrated by Peabody-Award winning journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the documentary chronicles the life of Hollowell, one of the movement’s legendary advocates for the cause of social justice. Hollowell was the Chief architect of the legal work than won the landmark Holmes V. Danner case, opening the doors of the University of Georgia to two black students – Hamilton Holmes and Hunter-Gault. Hollowell represented prominent civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy and scores of other civil rights activists. His work advanced many civil rights cases including equal access to public education, public accommodations, healthcare, voting rights and the right of African Americans to serve on juries.

“Hollowell’s dedication and sacrifice for the ideals of equal opportunity and social justice changed the course of our nation’s history and will continue to open doors of opportunity for generations to come,” said Maurice Daniels, dean of the School of Social Work and the co-executive producer of the documentary.

The documentary includes extensive archival footage and interviews with Julian Bond, Federal Judge William A. Bootle, federal Judge Constance Baker Motley, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, Federal Judge Horace T. Ward and Ambassador Andrew Young.

UGA will premiere Donald L. Hollowell: Foot Soldier for Equal Justice at 6 p.m. April 15, 2010 in the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. The premiere will be followed by a panel discussion. Judge Glenda Hatchett, star of the television courtroom series Judge Hatchett, will moderate the discussion. Panelists include Jordan, Lowery, Ward, and Mary Frances Early, the first African-American UGA graduate.

Tickets for the premiere are $100. Proceeds will support the Donald L.
Hollowell Professorship of Social Justice and Civil Rights Studies in the School of Social Work. See for more information.

The Hollowell documentary id the fourth installment developed by the Foot Soldier Project. Other films include: Horace T. Ward: Foot Solider for Equal Justice, Parts I and II, and Hamilton Earl Holmes: The Legacy Continues.