Honoring Judge Ward, rights pioneer

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Horace T. Ward, a human rights pioneer, died at age 88 over the weekend in Atlanta.

Described by the New Georgia Encyclopedia as “the first African American to challenge the racially discriminatory practices at the University of Georgia.” To be precise, he sought, unsuccessfully, to study law at the university. The law school paid tribute to him by way of this statement, issued today:

“We at the University of Georgia School of Law mourn the passing of a legal giant, the Honorable Horace Taliaferro Ward. A native of LaGrange, Georgia, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a master’s degree from Atlanta University before applying to Georgia Law in 1950. His application was denied, and it would be eleven years before the University of Georgia admitted African Americans as students. In 2014, the University conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree upon Ward – by then, a distinguished federal judge who had represented Martin Luther King, Jr. and others as a civil rights attorney, served in the U.S. Army in Korea, and been a Georgia state legislator. We at Georgia Law remain grateful for Judge Ward’s gracious acceptance of this belated and well-deserved recognition, and we express our sincere condolences to his family.”

(Above, a screenshot from a video of the May 9, 2014, commencement ceremony: Judge Horace T. Ward accepts honorary Doctor of Laws degree from University of Georgia President Jere Morehead, as Rebecca White, then Georgia Law’s dean, looks on. Behind Ward is Maurice Daniels, dean of the university’s School of Social Work and author of a 2001 biography of the judge.)

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