Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham, a 1970 graduate of the School of Law, will be honored April 7 at an event called “Fulfilling the American Dream” sponsored by the Student Government Association and a number of other university groups.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes, also a UGA law graduate, will speak and present Benham an award at the 2 p.m. event in the Chapel. The event is open free to the public.
Benham, a native of Cartersville, is the first African American to serve on the Georgia Supreme Court and the first to serve as chief justice. He was appointed to the court in 1989 by former Gov. Joe Frank Harris and was elected to a full term in 1990.
The event honoring Benham is part of the SGA’s African-American Leadership Series, started in 2003 to inspire students to maximize their leadership potential. Barnes will speak and present Benham the first “Fulfilling the American Dream Award.” A number of other judicial officials will attend, including John Ruffin Jr., chief judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals, and Superior Court judges Lawton Stephens, Steve Jones and David Sweat.
In 1984, Harris appointed Benham to the Georgia Court of Appeals and later that year he won a statewide election to the post, becoming the first African American elected to a statewide position in Georgia history.