After graduating from Virginia Military Institute with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2005, Athens native Kamau Hull had the option of not coming back to his hometown.
Yet he pursued a law degree to serve the Athens community and came home. Hull now works with his wife, Nicole Hull, at their law firm. They live with their sons, Jocko, 13, Tristan, 12, and Trendon, 3.
“This city can tear you down more than it lifts you up,” Kamau Hull said. “I think at some point in my life, I recognized the value in having to come back here and having to be an example of somebody that went through the worst of everything that the city can give you and came out on the other end and had opportunity to be successful.”
For Kamau Hull, 38, everything ties back to serving Athens and its youth. From his law practice to his involvement in several community organizations, Kamau Hull seeks to serve the community further by running for the Athens-Clarke County District 8 Commission seat.
Access, allies, accountability
Kamau Hull said, if elected, he hopes to utilize his time and experience from his community involvement to bring Athens together to fix “gaps” in the needs of the county’s different communities.
“We need to look as much at prioritizing road infrastructure and sidewalk infrastructure as we are at bike lanes and Firefly trails,” he said.
Specifically, Kamau Hull said he wants to reduce the barriers to starting small businesses and increase homeownership in Athens. He wants to use the Bethel Midtown Village redevelopment effort as a platform to aid the community through job training programs.
Kamau Hull aims to bring all relevant communities to the table by speaking to each group’s needs and interests surrounding each particular issue beyond the “voting constituency.”
Nicole Hull said her husband is dedicated to providing an equal platform for everybody and ensuring equity because, as a black man in the South, things haven’t always been equitable for him.
“He is going to be him,” Nicole Hull said. “That has looked like being silly with the kids in the middle of Walmart, dancing in aisle three. But that has also looked like backing away from opportunities or commitment to people where their values did not align with his.”
As a commissioner, Kamau Hull said he would pull allies from different communities to hear the issues they face by using his experience with community involvement.
Kamau Hull is a Chess & Community Conference board member and the secretary of the Cedar Creek Civic Association. He served as co-chair of the steering committee for the Athens Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service this year. He said he has worked in other positions inside the Athens MLK Jr. Day of Service since 2015.
His commitment to service also applies to his appearance, as Kamau Hull said he intentionally wears his hair in locs to be an example for the city’s youth.
“If you go to any community center in the city, you’ll see a kid with locs. It’s important for them to see me in my locs in a courtroom, not as a defendant, but as an attorney,” Kamau Hull said. “It’s important for them to see that, even though I wear this suit, I can also get out there with this suit and kick your butt in basketball.”
Returning to his roots
Kamau Hull said he faced several obstacles in his youth as a black child born into poverty with teenage parents. However, he attributes his academic success in high school to his extended family and community.
“[When] you look at my life [and] look at all of the forces, an engineer would tell you, ‘OK, this is going to fail at some point,’” Kamau Hull said. “I had some people in my life that kept telling me, ‘We’re not going to let you fail. We’re going to help you succeed.’”
Kamau Hull said one of the reasons for his success was his involvement in sports. An elementary school teacher pushed Kamau Hull’s father to have his son participate in sports to “occupy his mind.” He competed in football, basketball and track at Cedar Shoals High School, where he graduated in 2000. Kamau Hull attributes sports for teaching him life lessons such as teamwork, discipline and quickly evaluating situations.
A football scholarship took Kamau Hull to Virginia Military Institute. After graduating, he had the option to stay in the Lexington, Virginia, area as he had planted some roots. But he said he felt called to return to Athens.
With few engineering jobs in Athens at the time, Kamau Hull needed another career path if he wanted to make his way back home. While he moved back home and enrolled at the University of Georgia School of Law in 2006, he stopped attending in 2008 to allow his wife to earn her law degree at Mercer University.
Kamau Hull later enrolled as a night student at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in 2009. As a night student, he worked several jobs and internships until his graduation in 2013. He and his wife founded the Hull Firm — originally as a mediation service— out of their house in 2012. Two years later, the pair began practicing law.
Both Hulls practice child welfare law and offer mediation services. Kamau Hull specializes in business and estate law while Nicole Hull specializes in special education and family law.
To Nicole Hull, one of her husband’s best traits is his conviction. She said he does not waver in his beliefs and will not take cases that may suppress or oppose any marginalized group.
Kamau Hull said he was inspired to become a lawyer by his godfather, Gregory Roseboro, the assistant dean for admissions, diversity and inclusion & strategic initiatives at the University of Georgia School of Law.
Roseboro was Kamau Hull’s elementary school mentor through the Clarke County Mentor Program and later became his godfather. Roseboro said he feels like a proud parent after reflecting on his godson’s life.
“I’m just excited and proud of his willingness to give back, his willingness to serve,” Roseboro said. “Here’s someone who completed his education, and he could be all about advancing his own career and making money. Instead, I see him as someone who really cares about his community. He wants to give back.”