Office of the Provost
ATLANTA—Georgia State University will honor three women who sued for their right to attend the university in the 1950s in a groundbreaking court case that eventually led to the integration of Georgia State and other universities in the South.
The event will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20 at the university’s Student Center East, 55 Gilmer St. The event, the first in the Provost’s Groundbreaker Lecture Series, is free and open to the public. More information is at https://provost.gsu.edu/lecture.
The university will honor Myra Payne Elliott, Barbara Pace Hunt and Iris Mae Welch, who with the help of the NAACP sued in 1956 for their right to attend Georgia State. Elliott, her family and the family of Hunt will attend and receive special recognition, and their story will be presented in a new mini-documentary from the university’s School of Film, Media & Theatre.
The lecture’s speaker, Dr. Maurice C. Daniels, professor emeritus at the University of Georgia, will discuss their story as detailed in his new book, “Ground Crew: The Fight to End Segregation at Georgia State.”
Elliott, Hunt and Welch were the plaintiffs in the case Hunt v. Arnold, filed by the NAACP. They won the case in a 1959 court decision but were still prevented from enrolling at the institution through laws enacted by the state legislature and policies set forth by the Board of Regents. Georgia State would not integrate until 1962.
Because of their challenge to segregation, the women faced hatred, vile statements from state legislators and threats from white supremacists, including members of the Ku Klux Klan. Though they were prevented from enrolling at Georgia State, Hunt v. Arnold was the NAACP’s first federal court victory against segregated education in Georgia.
The Groundbreaker Lecture Series recognizes those who have made a major impact in the advancement of society. Through the series, the university honors those whose actions have created and continue to create significant change in the world, while fostering conversations to address ongoing issues.