If you wanted to fight injustice in the courts in the sixties—and win—you called the gutsy, stately Hollowell. The go-to attorney for civil rights leaders and causes, Hollowell got trumped-up charges dropped against MLK when the icon was behind bars in Reidsville, and burned up Georgia asphalt representing sit-in arrestees (one weekend saw 750 such clients). The Collier Heights resident won groundbreaking court cases that integrated Atlanta schools, Grady Memorial Hospital’s staff, Georgia State, and the University of Georgia and its law school—which had rejected the Kansas native years earlier. But forget resting on laurels: As the first black regional director of a major federal agency—President Johnson’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—Hollowell argued cases that beefed up the paper-thin hiring laws.
Rank and Foul The former Buffalo Soldier (who rose to captain) credited racism he encountered in the Army with spurring his activism.
Last Words At Hollowell’s 2004 funeral, friend, colleague, and Fulton Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington said, “Every time you drink out of a water fountain that doesn’t have ‘black’ and ‘white,’ you ought to say, ‘Thank you, Don.’”