Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lillian Smith Book Awards: Fetured 2014 Nominee

Saving the Soul of Georgia
Donald L. Hollowell and the Struggle for Civil Rights

By Maurice C. Daniels
Foreword by Vernon E. Jordan Jr.

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 behind-the-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 intersection of Hollowell's work wit the larger civil rights movement.


“Donald Hollowell—a brilliant and courageous lawyer known as Georgia’s ‘Mr. Civil Rights’—has long deserved a biography to match his talents. In Saving the Soul of Georgia, this lion of the civil rights movement finally receives what he has so richly deserved. Daniels’s book is a magnificent contribution to the literature on the black freedom struggle and the local lawyers who helped sustain it.”

—Tomiko Brown-Nagin, author of Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement, winner of the Bancroft Prize

“Maurice Daniels’s compelling biography of Donald Hollowell shines light on a pioneer attorney whose work in the trenches was absolutely essential to the civil rights movement. Hollowell was the preferred attorney for the student activists pushing the struggle forward, his contributions ranging from the back roads of Georgia to federal courtrooms, from plotting legal strategy to negotiating and advising. Daniels gives us a wonderful portrait of an important civil rights activist and adds another layer to our understanding of what it took to create a successful movement.”

—Emilye Crosby, editor of Civil Rights History from the Ground Up: Local Struggles, a National Movement

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