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The University of Georgia will celebrate a milestone in desegregation when it commemorates the 50th anniversary of the graduation of Mary Frances Early '62, the first African American to earn a degree from UGA, in a ceremony Aug. 15 at 3 p.m. in the university's Fine Arts Building. Highlights will include remarks from Early and several UGA dignitaries, musical performances from UGA students and a keynote address from civil rights pioneer Lonnie C. King Jr.
A native of Atlanta, Early earned a bachelor's degree in music education from Clark Atlanta University in 1957 and had started postgraduate work at the University of Michigan when she transferred to UGA to complete her studies in the summer of 1961. Earlier that year, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes became the first African-American students to enroll at UGA. On Aug. 16, 1962, Early received her master's degree in music education, and in 1967, she earned a specialist in education degree from UGA, also in music education.
Her experiences at UGA contributed to her extensive career in music and education. She was a music teacher, a planning and development coordinator, an elementary division curriculum specialist and a music resource teacher at various schools in Atlanta. In addition, she worked as an adjunct professor at Morehouse and Spelman colleges and as a music coordinator and supervisor for the Atlanta Public Schools. She became the first African-American president of the Georgia Music Educators Association in 1981.
Most recently, Early served as music department head at Clark Atlanta University.
Early's many awards include the STAR Teacher Award, Coan Middle School, 1972; Benjamin E. Mays Black Music Heritage Award, 1995; UGA Outstanding Alumna Award, 2000; and the UGA Foot Soldier for Equal Justice Award, 2011.
Highlighting the 50th anniversary celebration will be a keynote address by King, who is considered one of the icons in the Atlanta civil rights movement. At age 24, King, along with fellow students Julian Bond, Herschelle Sullivan, Carolyn Long, Frank Smith, Joseph Pierce and others authored "An Appeal for Human Rights," which was published on March 9, 1960, as an advertisement in various Atlanta-area newspapers. The subsequent Committee on the Appeal for Human Rights, which King chaired, took the lead in initiating the Atlanta Student Civil Rights Movement, beginning with sit-ins in Atlanta-area racially segregated establishments.
King has remained involved in the cause of desegregation and human rights, serving as the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Atlanta from 1969-1973. During his professional career, he worked in a number of equal employment opportunity positions within the federal government, including the U.S. Department of the Interior, as well as in private firms. Later, he served as a high school teacher and adjunct professor of history and African-American history in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md., and Atlanta.
At the event, UGA President Michael F. Adams will present a proclamation in recognition of Early and the 50th anniversary.
Maurice Daniels, dean of the UGA School of Social Work, will address the historical significance of Early's graduation on the civil rights movement. Daniels, a social work professor and author, is the senior researcher and executive producer of the Donald L. Hollowell: Foot Soldier for Equal Justice documentary and executive producer of four critically acclaimed public television documentaries on the subject of desegregation.
Other highlights of the program include presentations by the UGA College of Education, the Graduate School, the School of Social Work and the Alumni Association. UGA students will perform musical selections, and Early will deliver closing remarks. A reception will immediately follow the program.
The UGA Office of Institutional Diversity is coordinating the event. Co-sponsors, along with the Office of Institutional Diversity, are the Office of the President, the School of Social Work, the College of Education and the Graduate School.
I salute the pioneering efforts of Mary Frances Early and express my deepest gratitude for her milestone contribution to progress at the University. I am also proud of how well she has demonstrated the excellence of UGA alumni through her exceptional teaching career. We look forward to celebrating this esteemed alumna and her many accomplishments!
For more information on Mary Frances Early, see the following UGA sites: Unsung Foot Soldiers, http://www.footsoldier.uga.edu/foot_soldiers/early.html; The Graduate School, http://www.grad.uga.edu/mfe-lecture/index.html; and Living/Oral History http://uga.edu/livinghistory/feature/mary-frances-early/.
One of the biggest attractions to the Atlanta music scene is its annual music festival, Music Midtown. From mainstream pop artists to rising rock bands, Music Midtown offers the crowds that gather performances from a wide variety of artists. For Peter Conlon (BBA '75), one of two founders of the festival and president of Peter Conlon Presents, this was the overall goal: to create an event fit for attendees of all music tastes and genres.
Conlon graduated from Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in international business in 1975. During his four years as an undergraduate student, he was a member of University Union where he first began booking rock concerts that featured artists such as Jethro Tull and the Allman Brothers. He attended law school for a short period of time after graduation, but then took a risk and dropped out to work as an intern for the Carter presidential campaign, a risk that ended up paying off through a victory.
Peter continued to work for Jimmy Carter throughout his presidential term. His position required that he help set up benefit concerts for the president. In 1982, Conlon partnered with Alex Cooley to begin his career in the music industry.
Music Midtown at Piedmont Park
After working many years booking concerts, the pair founded Music Midtown in 1994, inspired by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. After having to pull the plug on the event in 2005 due to low sales, the festival was reintroduced in 2011 and now takes up several stages across Piedmont Park, hosts more than 30 different artists, and attracts attendees from all over the nation. Moreover, since the festival’s relaunch, it has generated $50 million for the local economy each year.
Congratulations to Peter and best wishes for the continued success of Music Midtown!
Anyone family with downtown Athens and its eclectic variety of shops is surely familiar with Frontier. Since opening nearly 20 years ago, the store has connected local artists with community members by providing a venue for them to showcase and sell their work.
UGA alumna Devin Clower (BFA '08) took ownership of the store three years ago. Her background in interior design helped her with the introduction of custom framing and redesigning the store layout.
The store’s motto, “All for the heart and home,” is reflected in the unique gifts that you can find at the store. Devin has worked hard to fulfill the motto, and through her leadership, the store has grown into a local favorite.
Congratulations on your hard work, Devin!
On January 27, the UGA President’s Medal was awarded to Francis “Abit” Massey (BBA ’49) and the late Jane Seddon Willson. This honor recognizes extraordinary support and contributions to individuals that have made a tremendous impact in the lives of students and staff. Through them, the university is able to continue to push forward to greater heights in the realm of academia.
Francis "Abit" Massey (BBA '49)
Abit served as the president of the UGA Alumni Association’s Board of Directors from 1991-1993. Throughout his career, he served in the roles of head of the Georgia Department of Economic Development and executive director of the Georgia Poultry Federation. Currently, he is serving on the board of the UGA Real Estate Foundation, Georgia Research Foundation, and is an emeritus trustee of the UGA Foundation. Moreover, Abit has received numerous medals throughout his lifetime that include the 1986 UGA Alumni Merit Award and the Harold E. Ford Lifetime Achievement Award from the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association.
During her lifetime, Jane served as a member of on the Arts and Sciences Advisory Board, the Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council, the Franklin College Advisory Board, the UGA Research Foundation, the Honors Program and Advisory Board, the Georgia Museum of Art Board of Advisors, and she served as an emerita trustee of the UGA Research Foundation. In 2004, she endowed the William Harry Willson Distinguished Chair of Business in honor of her husband and later on, she created the Willson International Honors Scholars Program for students in the university’s Honors Program. Jane was honored with a Doctor of Laws degree in 2006, one of the highest accolades granted to any individual that is a part of the Bulldog community, and in 2008, she was inducted into the Crystal Arch Society in recognition of her passion for giving back to the university.
The late Jane Willson
“We are honored to recognize two great Georgians for helping to improve our state and strengthen the university,” said President Morehead. “Through their influential vision and tremendous generosity, both Abit Massey and the late Jane Willson have had a profound impact on UGA, and their contributions will continue to benefit the university for generations to come.”