Donald L. Hollowell, Civil Rights Attorney Who Fought to Keep Dr. King Out Of Prison


Documentation of influential people in African-American history is extremely important for generations to come. Most people will know well-known names such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, it is important to learn about other great leaders who are not as well-known but have help pave the way as well. Dr. King was an extraordinary man because of him there is nothing African-Americans are not able to do. We also have to take a look at another important man when we think about Dr. King as well. Many people do not know it, but was a prominent civil rights attorney during Dr. King’s time. He represented Martin Luther King several times, and he was the one who kept Dr. King out of prison.


, was born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1917. Like many young boys during that time, he had to drop out of school to help support his family. His father was actually insistent with the idea. At the age of 18 he enlisted in the Army’s all- 10th Cavalry. He spent six years in service and continued his education to receive his High School diploma. After the service he enrolled at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. During WWII he re-enlisted in the army and rose to the rank of captain. After the war, he enrolled in Law School at Loyola University where he obtained his Law degree. He made history in 1961 as the lead attorney in Holmes v. Danner, which desegregated the University of Georgia.

After an Atlanta sit-in in 1960, and Dr. King sitting in Fulton County Jail for four days, Hollowell took Dr. King as a client and defended him for the very first time. The charges against Dr. King for the Atlanta sit-in were dropped, but then he was charged with violating probation and sentenced to four months of hard labor at Reidsville State Prison in Georgia. King only spend one day in prison due to the intervention by the Kennedy administration, and Hollowell successfully appealing the sentence to the Georgia Court of Appeals.


“Hollowell became the first black man to head the southeastern regional office for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which he directed from 1966 to1976. Hollowell served as president of the Voter Education Project from 1971 to1986 and was the recipient of countless awards, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Lawyer of the Year (1965), and the Civil Liberties Award from the ACLU (1967). In 2002, he received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Georgia, the same university he had helped to desegregate 40 years earlier.” (



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