- NAME: Charlayne Hunter-Gault
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Radio Personality, News Anchor, Journalist
- BIRTH DATE: February 27, 1942 (Age: 71)
- Did You Know?: In 1961, Charlayne Hunter-Gault became the first African-American woman to enroll at the University of Georgia, as well as one of the first two African-American students to integrate the school.
- Did You Know?: In 1988, Hunter-Gault became the first African American to give the University of Georgia's commencement address.
- Did You Know?: Best known for her reporting, Charlayne Hunter-Gault ventured into wine production after relocating to South Africa. The label she and her husband founded is called Passages.
- EDUCATION: University of Georgia, Wayne State University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Due West, South Carolina
- Full Name: Charlayne Hunter-Gault
- Maiden Name: Charlayne Hunter
- ZODIAC SIGN: Pisces
Best Known For
Award-winning journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault became the first African-American woman to enroll at the University of Georgia, as well as one of the first two African-American students to integrate the school, in 1961.
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Born on February 27, 1942, in Due West, South Carolina, Charlayne Hunter-Gault spent the majority of her childhood in Georgia, where, in 1961, she became the first African-American woman to enroll at the University of Georgia, as well as one of the first two African-American students to integrate the school. After graduating, Hunter-Gault became an esteemed, award-winning journalist and correspondent, working for media outlets such as the New York Times, PBS and NPR.
"I think that the thing that we learned back in the day of the Cvil Rights Movement is that you do have to keep on keeping on."
"Their rocks, their bricks, their spit never touched me, because in my head I was an African queen."
Charlayne Hunter was born on February 27, 1942, in Due West, South Carolina. Her family was often on the move, due to her father's work as an army chaplain, but she and her two younger brothers mainly grew up in Georgia.
As a child, Hunter admired the comic strip Brenda Starr, about a reporter with an adventure-filled life. Later, she decided to study journalism in college, in the hopes of having an exciting career of her own. As an African-American student, however, her college options in the South were limited.
Civil rights activists who wanted to integrate all-white Southern colleges approached Hunter—who had been ranked third in her class at her Atlanta high school—to be a test case. The team had thought to start with a state school located in Atlanta, but Hunter wanted to go to the University of Georgia at Athens, which had a good journalism program.
Hunter's 1959 request for admission was denied due to the university's claim that it had "limited space." While a legal team, whose members included Vernon Jordan, filed suit, Hunter studied at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Then a court ruling came: In January 1961, Hunter—along with her high school classmate, Hamilton Holmes—would be allowed to enroll at the University of Georgia. Holmes and Hunter thus became the first two African-American students to integrate the school, with Hunter becoming the first African-American woman to enroll there.
At the school, Hunter and Hamilton registered for classes amid shouts of protest. A few days later, Hunter's dorm was surrounded by a 1,000-strong crowd that threw firecrackers, bottles and bricks at her window. Though state troopers delayed in responding to a call for help from local police, the crowd was eventually dispersed.
Citing safety concerns, the university suspended Hunter and Holmes from school, which prompted more than 300 faculty members to sign a resolution in support of the two students' return. Another court order was required for the school to readmit the pair. Hunter felt that the entire experience helped mold her future career in journalism, as she learned from the reporters, such as Calvin Trillin, who covered her story.
Though she was isolated from her fellow students for the remainder of her time at college—segregation made going to the movies or eating in a restaurant together impossible—Hunter made some white friends on campus. She married Walter Stovall, a fellow journalism student, before graduating with a journalism degree in 1963.
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