The legacy of the civil rights movement resonates to this day and the State Bar of Georgia and the Center for Civil and Human Rights will recognize over 120 men and women who participated in securing legal rights for African-Americans. On Wednesday at the State Bar Center in Atlanta, legal professionals, activists, scholars and supporters will receive awards in an long-awaited celebration of history.
At the “Celebration of Civil Rights Milestones” Patrise Perkins-Hooker, the State Bar of Georgia’s first Black president, will present the honorees with their awards. The celebration will begin with a youth-focused program, featuring a screening of the Story Behind Selma film and panel discussion in the morning. An evening panel featuring key figures of the Selma marches and current civil and human rights activists will examine the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Author and activist Sheyann Webb-Christburg will be one of the panelists. Webb-Christburg was the youngest marcher during the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. She got involved after a chance meeting with Martin Luther King Jr. When the Selma march as first attempted, Webb-Christburg was nearly trampled but was saved by the late civil rights icon Hosea Williams who led the successful second march with King.
Her experiences during “Bloody Sunday” event were part of the book Selma, Lord, Selma which she helped co-author.
Also featured at the panel will be activist and lecturer Joanne Bland, who was one of several young activists on the ground in Selma. Joining Bland will be Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a co-founder of SNCC and prominent King ally and Dr. Frederick Douglass Reese Sr., an activist and one of the “Courageous Eight” members.
Dr. Laura Emiko Soltis, a social justice activist and human rights educator will moderate the panel.
University of Delaware Professor Leland Ware will serve as a presenter in an early afternoon event. Professor Ware is the Louis L. Redding Professor and Chair for the Study of Law and Public Policy at the university, a post he’s held since 2000.
The celebration ultimately aims to recognize the contributions of Georgia lawyers who worked behind the scenes in a variety of legal matters across the Deep South during the era of racial segregation.