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Parham Policy Day looks at past and present by Laura James (ABJ ’15), Red and Black
wo civil rights activists, a minority health policy expert and an associate professor spoke on the theme of civil rights history and public policy at the University of Georgia School of Social Work’s 10th annual Parham Policy Day. Graduate students studying social work organized the event with June Gary Hopps, Parham Professor of Family and Children Studies. Lonnie C. King Jr. and Roslyn Pope, activists during the civil rights movement, shared their experiences growing up in the segregated South. King and Pope said they spent time away from Atlanta as young adults, living in environments less plagued by discrimination. King said he joined the Navy for a few years, and Pope said she traveled to Europe and studied piano in Paris while she was a student at Spelman College. Upon their return, both activists recognized the need for change. “Returning to Atlanta… after having lived as a human being rather than an object of hatred for more than a year, it was almost unbearable,” Pope said. King spoke on the importance of overcoming discrimination throughout his life and his role as an activist. “The law was against us, but because I was a religious person, I knew there was a higher moral law,” King said. A part of the Atlanta Student Movement, King and Pope developed a document known as “An Appeal for Human
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L-R: Lonnie C. King Jr., Travis Patton, and Roslyn Pope
Rights” that called for total racial desegregation by nonviolent means in 1960. Travis Patton, a former project director for National Minority Male Health Project and an adjunct professor of sociology at Morehouse College, then spoke on current public policy’s impact on a variety of issues that King and Pope mentioned. He urged a bottom-up approach toward social issues. “We need to be active to force our leaders to do things because making changes are not comfortable,” he said. “It shakes up the status quo. It shakes up the social order.” After Patton spoke, Tony Lowe, an associate professor in the School of Social Work, recounted the story of Isaiah H. Loftin, a black postmaster in Hogansville who experienced discrimination in the late 19th century. The speakers held a question and answer session following their talks. Veronda Baker, a graduate student from McDonough studying social work at the UGA Gwinnett campus, said she thought it was interesting to hear the speakers’ first-hand experiences. “The speakers actually lived through the civil rights era, and they were pretty much foot soldiers and very instrumental in a lot of the rights that we have today,” Baker said. More than 75 people attended the free public event held in the reception hall of the Tate Student Center. Parham Policy Day is named after Thomas M. “Jim” Parham, who was a professor in the School of Social Work and served in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare under President Jimmy Carter.
University of Georgia School of Social Work