Thursday, June 13, 2019

Longan on Judge Bootle and the Integration of the University of Georgia

I was pleased to note the recent publication by my law school classmate Patrick Emery Longan, Mercer University School of Law, of  “You Can’t Afford to Flinch in the Face of Duty”: Judge William Augustus Bootle and the Desegregation of the University of Georgia," Stetson Law Review 48 (23019): 379-425.  From the introduction:
On January 6, 1961, United States District Judge William Augustus Bootle granted a permanent injunction that required the University of Georgia to admit its first two black students, Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne A. Hunter. The backlash began immediately. Newspaper editorials condemned the decision. The Governor of Georgia threatened to close the University. Students rioted. A man escaped from an insane asylum, armed himself and went looking for Charlayne Hunter at her dormitory. Judge Bootle received numerous critical letters, including some that were threatening. Yet Judge Bootle’s attitude was that he did no more than what his position as a judge required him to do. Late in his life, he sat for an interview as part of the Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies at the University of Georgia. He summed up his actions and motivations by saying: “You can’t afford to flinch in the face of duty. . . . [I]t just happened to happen on my watch.  I don’t deserve any credit. Don’t seek any. I did what any self-respecting, honest judge would have done.”
--Dan Ernst