A white southern civil rights activist, Joan Mulholland will share her unique story about her personal courage and determination to push for equality in the 1960s during a special screening event at Georgia College Thursday.
“[Mulholland’s] visit is special to her because she had family grow up in Milledgeville, and they’re actually buried here. This is her first time back here since 50 years ago. When she first started out in her movement, she didn’t want to cause attention to her family,” said Jennifer Birch, coordinator of education and outreach for Diversity Programs and Services. “A lot of people didn’t appreciate her stance during that time, but as time has passed and things have changed, she’s coming back to see where her family grew up.”
As a young girl in Arlington, Va., Mulholland grew up in church and was taught the golden rule — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Despite being attacked by angry mobs, put on death row in the notorious Parchman Penitentiary and coming face-to-face with the KKK, she never wavered from her belief that we are all created equal.
Mulholland joined sit-ins in 1960 as a freshman at Duke University, the Freedom Rides and other movements pushing for equality. Her path has crossed with some of the biggest icons in the Civil Rights Movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Robert F. Kennedy, John Lewis, Diane Nash, John Salter, Harry Belafonte, Bob Moses and Anne Moody.
Mulholland is slated to bring her story of activism and personal responsibility to Georgia College Thursday in the Arts & Sciences Auditorium. Presented by the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, a screening of the documentary “An Ordinary Hero: A Film and Discussion with Joan Mulholland” will begin at 2 p.m. Mulholland will speak and answer questions following the screening. Her documentary will also be available for purchase after the event.
“My goal is that people will understand from my experience you don’t have to be a big name person to do something that changes the world,” Mulholland said in a press release. “Everyday people or students can make a difference. I hope they will be inspired to look at important issues of today, find others with similar goals and beliefs and work together to make a difference.”
Mulholland has appeared on television and news programs, including The Oprah Winfrey Show and CBS Nightly News. Her true story, depicted in “An Ordinary Hero” is full of exclusive interviews and rarely seen images from the Civil Rights Movement. Her story and experiences were highlighted in award-winning documentaries, including PBS’s “Freedom Riders,” “Standing on My Sister’s Shoulders” and the groundbreaking film “Eyes on the Prize.”
“We’re just thrilled that she’s coming here to share her story because a lot of people aren’t familiar with it. We look forward to having everyone come out from campus and the community at-large to hear from this legend of the Civil Rights Movement,” Birch said. “It’s about the essence of who she is and what she represents; she wasn’t a big name person, but an individual who made a difference for many people today.”
For more information about the event or Mulholland’s documentary call 478-445-4233, or visit www.anordinaryhero.com.