The premiere campus screening of Donald L. Hollowell: Foot Soldier for Equal Justice, originally set for Jan. 10, has been rescheduled for Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. in Masters Hall at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel.
Hollowell, a legendary civil rights attorney in the 1950s and 1960s, was 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. The event, co-sponsored by the School of Social Work, the Institute for African American Studies and the Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies, is part of “Celebrating Courage,” UGA’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of its desegregation.
The documentary was developed by Maurice Daniels, dean of the School of Social Work and director of the FSP, and Derrick Alridge, director of the Institute for African American Studies and a professor in the College of Education. The documentary tells Hollowell’s story through his service as lead counsel in the Holmes case, 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.
“Even though the film chronicles a broad spectrum of Hollowell’s civil rights triumphs and achievements, there’s major coverage in the film related to the desegregation of the University of Georgia, beginning with Ward and culminating in the admission of Charlayne and Hamilton,” Daniels said. “I am delighted his social activism and civil rights work will be viewed by a whole new generation.”
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 Gov. 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 world premiere of the documentary was held at the Woodruff Fine Arts Center in Atlanta on April 15. The documentary viewing was followed by a panel discussion featuring Jordan, Ward, Mary Frances Early and moderator, Judge Glenda Hatchett, star of the television courtroom series Judge Hatchett. Actress Jasmine Guy was the special guest host. Louise Hollowell, Donald Hollowell’s widow, also was honored at the event. 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 School of Social Work recently established a professorship named in honor of Hollowell, who died of heart failure in 2004. The Donald L. Hollowell Distinguished Professorship of Social Justice and Civil Rights Studies is the first distinguished professorship named for an African American at UGA. A search is currently under way to fill the professorship.