Each year, an invited speaker delivers a lecture that honors the quiet determination and dignity with which Mary Frances Early pursued her efforts to ensure that the state’s flagship university became an institution of higher learning for all the people of Georgia. The annual lecture demonstrates the progress that has been made while also recognizing that work still remains in order to fully realize Ms. Early’s vision. With pride, we salute Ms. Early for all that she has accomplished and for the excellence, integrity, fortitude, and grace that she represents.
In 1999, Graduate and Professional Scholars (GAPS) members Tracey Ford and Valerie White proposed that Ms. Early serve as the featured speaker for the GAPS Spring Lecture. Her selection was prompted in part by her appearance in Foot Soldiers for Equal Justice, the documentary chronicling the desegregation of the University of Georgia. Dr. Maurice Daniels, the former GAPS co-advisor, served as senior researcher and executive director of the Foot Soldiers project.
Following Ms. Early’s keynote address on April 18, 2000, GAPS renamed its annual spring lecture in her honor. In 2010, in consultation with Ms. Early, the Graduate School assumed responsibility for the event, working in partnership with GAPS to promote and maintain the event’s visibility and consistency.
|2018||Bakari Sellers||Attorney, Politician, and CNN Political Analyst|
|2017||Dr. Joycelyn Elders||16th U.S. Surgeon General|
|2016||Dr. Johnetta B. Cole||Anthropologist, and Former President of Spelman and Benedict Colleges|
|2015||Michael Thurmond||Superintendent of the DeKalb County School District, distinguished attorney, and author|
|2014||Donna Brazile||Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation for the Democratic National Committee|
|2013||Hank Klibanoff||James M. Cox, Jr. Professor of Journalism at Emory University|
|2012||Cynthia Tucker||Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at UGA|
|2011||Rep. John Lewis||U.S. Representative of Georgia’s 5th District|
|2010||Ambassador Andrew Young||GoodWorks International LLC|
|2009||Dr. Maurice Daniels||Dean of UGA School of Social Work|
|2008||Ms. Harriet A. Washington||Medical ethicist|
|2007||Ms. Elaine Brown, Esq.||Politician, activist|
|2006||Dr. Michael Eric Dyson||Religious scholar, commentator|
|2005||Ms. Charisse Jones & Dr. Kumea Shorter-Gooden||Authors|
|2004||Dr. Nai’m Akbar||Professor of Psychology|
|2003||Dr. Mitchell F. Rice||Political scientist|
|2002||Dr. Sharon Ames Dennard||2002 Working Mother of the Year|
|2001||Dr. Reuben Warren||Bioethics researcher|
|2000||Ms. Mary Frances Early||Civil rights pioneer, music educator|