A re-enactment of the legal trial that desegregated the University of Georgia will take place Feb. 25 at 3:30 p.m. in the School of Law’s Hatton Lovejoy Courtroom. It will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham, U.S. District Court Judge Horace T. Ward, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Maureen Downey and attorney Kenneth I. Dious. The events are open free to the public, but to help ensure adequate seating pre-registration at www.law.uga.edu/re-enactment-rsvp is required.
“This is a chance to take a step back in time, to hear actual dialogue from the trial and to witness firsthand some of the issues that were raised,” said Sarah L. Wooten, second-year law student and event co-organizer. “I am confident that the law student portrayal of this case and the legal panel discussion will provide new insights of this momentous event that shaped UGA and paved the way for change.”
In 1961, the Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes trial concluded with then-U.S. District Court Judge William A. Bootle declaring that “[t]he two plaintiffs are fully qualified for immediate admission to [the] university and would already have been admitted had it not been for their race.” Now, 50 years later, the testimony of Holmes and Hunter will be heard again in a courtroom setting along with other highlights from the proceedings.
Further exploring the desegregation of UGA will be two of the law school’s first six African-American graduates, Benham (J.D.’70) and Dious (J.D.’73), along with Ward, who was denied admittance to the School of Law during the 1950s and later became the first African American to sit on a federal bench in the state of Georgia. Downey, who has written about local, state and federal education policy at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the past 12 years, also will participate in the panel, which will be moderated by School of Law professor Lonnie T. Brown.
This event is part of the observance of the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of UGA and is presented by the School of Law’s Davenport-Benham Black Law Students Association.