Arts & Humanities Society & Culture

Award-winning civil rights historian to speak at Morton Theatre

Tomiko Brown-Nagin-v
Tomiko Brown-Nagin

Athens, Ga. – The civil rights historian Tomiko Brown-Nagin will deliver the University of Georgia’s fourth annual Donald L. Hollowell Lecture on April 2 at 7 p.m. at the historic Morton Theatre in Athens.

Brown-Nagin, the Daniel P. S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law and a professor of history at Harvard University, will give a presentation titled “‘The Civil Rights Queen’: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Racial and Gender Equality in America.” The event is free and open to the public.

“We are honored and delighted to have Tomiko Brown-Nagin speak at this year’s lecture,” said R. Baxter Miller, professor of English and African American Studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and interim director of the UGA Center for Social Justice, Human and Civil Rights. “Professor Brown-Nagin is highly respected for her research on citizens who have contributed significant yet unrecognized advancements to civil rights in America.”

Brown-Nagin’s 2011 book, “Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement,” won the Bancroft Prize in American History. Brown-Nagin was the first woman of color to win the honor. She currently is working on a biography of Constance Baker Motley, a civil rights lawyer who won nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous cases in the lower federal courts, including the lawsuit co-counseled with Donald L. Hollowell that desegregated UGA. After a career as a civil rights lawyer, Motley was elected the first female Manhattan Borough president, and in 1966 became the first black woman appointed to the federal bench. As a judge on the U.S. District Court in New York she issued rulings that helped to remove professional barriers for women and criminal defendants.

“It is indeed an honor to have the eminent legal scholar and historian Dr. Tomiko Brown-Nagin speak on the enduring and powerful legacy of Constance Baker Motley, who partnered with Donald Hollowell on a number of civil rights cases in Georgia,” said Maurice C. Daniels, dean of the School of Social Work and a Hollowell biographer.

Brown-Nagin earned a doctorate in history from Duke University, a law degree from Yale University, where she edited the Yale Law Journal, and a bachelor’s degree in history, summa cum laude, from Furman University. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty, she held joint appointments in law and history at the University of Virginia and practiced law in New York City. She is a South Carolina native.

This year’s event will also include a tribute to Hollowell’s widow, Louise Hollowell, who died on March 10 of this year. She was active in the civil rights movement and served on the endowment committee for the Hollowell Professorship, the first distinguished professorship named for an African American at UGA. She was an honored guest at previous Hollowell lectures and UGA events commemorating the civil rights work of her husband.

The Donald L. Hollowell Lecture annually brings to UGA a national or international expert in the areas of civil and human rights or social and economic sustainability. The lecture is co-sponsored by the UGA Center for Social Justice, Human and Civil Rights, the UGA School of Social Work and The Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies.