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Saving the Soul of Georgia

Donald L. Hollowell and the Struggle for Civil Rights

Maurice C. Daniels

Publication Year: 2013

Donald L. Hollowell was Georgia’s chief civil rights attorney during the 1950s and 1960s. In this role he defended African American men accused or convicted of capital crimes in a racially hostile legal system, represented movement activists arrested for their civil rights work, and fought to undermine the laws that maintained state-sanctioned racial discrimination. In Saving the Soul of Georgia, Maurice C. Daniels tells the story of this behindthe- scenes yet highly influential civil rights lawyer who defended the rights of blacks and advanced the cause of social justice in the United States.

Hollowell grew up in Kansas somewhat insulated from the harsh conditions imposed by Jim Crow laws throughout the South. As a young man he served as a Buffalo Soldier in the legendary Tenth Cavalry, but it wasn’t until after he fought in World War II that he determined to become a civil rights attorney. The war was an eye-opener, as Hollowell experienced the cruel discrimination of racist segregationist policies. The irony of defending freedom abroad for the sake of preserving Jim Crow laws at home steeled his resolve to fight for civil rights upon returning from war.

From his legal work in the case of Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter that desegregated the University of Georgia to his defense of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to his collaboration with Thurgood Marshall and his service as the NAACP’s chief counsel in Georgia, Saving the Soul of Georgia explores the intersections of Hollowell’s work with the larger civil rights movement.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

From the time of Donald L. Hollowell’s birth in 1917 to his death in 2004, black Americans faced what historian W. E. B. Du Bois called the problem of the twentieth century—“the problem of the color line.” During Hollowell’s lifetime black soldiers fought in two world wars for a country that subjected blacks to second-class citizenship; state-sanctioned educational...


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pp. xv-xxii

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pp. 1-10

I first met Donald Hollowell in 1990 on the campus of the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia, during an annual lecture honoring Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter (now Charlayne Hunter-Gault), whom Hollowell represented in the...

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ONE: Preparing for Battle: Early Influences and Aspirations

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pp. 11-22

In 1917 World War I, the “war to end all wars,” was raging across Europe. Aft er three years of neutrality, the United States had entered the fray. In France, American soldiers—including thousands of African Americans—were fighting to defend liberty and democracy...

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TWO: A Legal Education: Addressing the “Just Grievances” of Negroes in America

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pp. 23-43

As Hollowell and other blacks fought in World War II to help win freedom abroad, blacks were emboldened to fight for racial justice in the United States. The NAACP in tandem with state and local branches orchestrated protests against state- sanctioned Jim Crow practices, targeting mob violence, racial exclusion in education...

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THREE: The Road to Freedom: Challenging Segregation as Georgia’s Chief Civil Rights Lawyer

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pp. 44-65

Saluting civil rights lawyers in 1965 for their vital contributions to the cause of social justice, Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed, “You should be aware, as indeed I am, that the road to freedom is now a highway, because lawyers throughout the land, yesterday and today, have helped clear the obstructions, have helped...

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FOUR: Opening the Doors: Dismantling Segregation in Higher Education

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pp. 66-90

Despite Hollowell’s victory in the Coke case, which opened doors to blacks at facilities in the Atlanta airport terminal, many other doors in Georgia remained shut—especially the doors to all-white schools. In 1958, four years aft er the Brown decision, Jesse Hill and other black civic leaders renewed their challenge to racial...

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FIVE: “An Appeal for Human Rights”: The Atlanta Student Sit-Ins

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pp. 91-129

Hollowell’s defeat of segregation at Georgia’s flagship university had an immediate impact on the Atlanta public schools’ case, for which he also served as counsel. In the wake of federal judge Bootle’s decision to restrain Governor Vandiver from...

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SIX: Freedom in the Air: The Albany Movement

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pp. 130-159

Despite Hollowell’s civil rights victories, some recalcitrant whites, bent on maintaining the Jim Crow social order, would require Hollowell and his comrades to fight legal battles county by county, school by school, public facility by public facility. Emboldened by civil rights courtroom victories but fed up with the...

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SEVEN: Turning the Tide: Hollowell’s March across Georgia

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pp. 160-189

By the early 1960s, Hollowell was increasingly taking on cases in remote areas of Georgia that covered the spectrum from defending the rights of blacks guaranteed by the United States Constitution to defending blacks from an oppressive criminal justice system. His willingness to take on civil rights cases and his reputation...

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EIGHT: Hollowell’s New Marching Orders

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pp. 190-210

In December 1961, when police officials jailed SNCC activist Charles Sherrod in Terrell County in connection with mass protests in Southwest Georgia, Sheriff Zeke T. Mathews severely brutalized Sherrod during his imprisonment. Sheriff Mathews told his prisoners, “There’ll be no damn singin’ and no damn...


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pp. 211-226


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pp. 227-270


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pp. 271-282


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pp. 283-301

E-ISBN-13: 9780820346298
E-ISBN-10: 0820346292

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 21 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2013