twentieth century

February 7, 1905

Wally Butts

Before Vince Dooley became synonymous with Georgia football, there was Wally Butts. Known as the “Little Round Man,” Butts was born in Milledgeville and earned scholarships in three sports at Mercer University. Butts became the University of Georgia’s head football coach in 1939. Over 22 seasons he led the Bulldogs to 140 wins, four SEC […]

January 24, 1939

Ray Stevens

He streaked to the top of the charts. Singer-songwriter Ray Stevens was born Harold Ray Ragsdale in Clarksdale, Georgia. He attended high school in Albany and soon after got a recording contract in Nashville. In 1970, Stevens hit #1 and won a Grammy with the mainstream “Everything is Beautiful”, but it was the unorthodox songs […]

January 23, 1993

Thomas A. Dorsey

“Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” one of the most famous gospel songs ever written, was inspired by the personal tragedy of its author. Thomas Dorsey was born in Villa Rica in 1899 and grew up listening to shape-note singing and spirituals in church. He was also influenced by blues icons Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. […]

January 21, 1931

Eliza Frances Andrews

She was a non-conformist before that became stylish. Eliza Frances “Fanny” Andrews was born in Washington, Georgia, in 1840. Among the first students to attend LaGrange Female College, she was fluent in both Latin and French. She was fiercely independent. Though her father was a staunch Unionist, Andrews was an equally strong secessionist. As her […]

January 20, 1920

DeForest Kelley

Star Trek only ran three years, but you can’t kill it with a phaser. Its characters are immortal as well. They have lived long, and prospered. One of them was DeForest Kelley, born in Atlanta in 1920 and a graduate of Decatur Boys High in 1938. After a hitch in the Army Air Corps in […]

January 14, 1940

Julian Bond

It took the Supreme Court to seat Julian Bond in the Georgia Legislature. Born in Nashville in 1940, graduated from a Quaker school in Pennsylvania, he came to Atlanta to attend Morehouse College. Bond led nonviolent protests that helped integrate Atlanta lunch counters, theaters and parks. In 1960, he was one of the founders of […]

January 13, 1982

Hank Aaron

He was 14 when he saw Jackie Robinson play, and knew he wanted to play major league baseball. There were few better. Henry Louis Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1934. During a 23-year career with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers, Aaron won the National League’s Most Valuable Player and […]

January 11, 1955

Marvin Griffin

Marvin Griffin ran for governor as a staunch segregationist, but when it came to actually defying federal orders, as he said, “being in jail kind of crimps a governor’s style.” Griffin was born in 1907 in Bainbridge and was elected governor in 1954, six months after the Supreme Court’s decision that outlawed segregated schools. Griffin […]

January 10, 1933

Eugene Talmadge

Eugene Talmadge ran for Georgia governor five times. He won four. He served three and was, to put it mildly, quite a character. Born near Forsyth in 1884, he was known as the farmer’s champion. “I can carry any county,” he boasted, “that ain’t got street cars.” Talmadge fired elected officials who resisted his authority. […]

January 9, 1961

Desegregation of UGA

One hundred seventy-six years after it was chartered, Georgia’s flagship university admitted its first black students on this day in 1961. Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter applied to the University of Georgia in the summer of 1959 but were told that all dorms were full. They re-applied every semester thereafter and got the same response. […]