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Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Award-winning journalist, author, and school desegregation pioneer Charlayne Hunter-Gault was born on February 27, 1942, in Due West, South Carolina, to Charles and Althea Hunter. Because her father, a chaplain in the United States Army, was often re-assigned, Hunter-Gault and her siblings attended schools in California, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia and Alaska. Hunter-Gault graduated third in her class from Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School in 1960. Backed by a group of black businessmen and accompanied by fellow student Hamilton Holmes, Hunter-Gault applied for admission to the segregated University of Georgia. Initially denied admittance, she enrolled at Wayne State University in Detroit, but Constance Baker Motley of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a group of Atlanta lawyers won her admittance to the University of Georgia in January of 1961. Hunter-Gault transcended the expected racial hostility, served a summer internship with the Louisville Times and graduated with her B.A. degree in journalism in 1963.

That same year, Hunter-Gault accepted a job as an editorial assistant with the New Yorker magazine. She won a Russell Sage Fellowship for a year and then served as a reporter and evening anchor for WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. She returned to print journalism by accepting a post with the New York Times in 1968, establishing the newspaper’s Harlem bureau. In 1978, Hunter-Gault joined PBS’s McNeil-Lehrer Newshour where she served as national correspondent and filled in as an anchor. She joined NPR in 1997 as chief correspondent in Africa. In 1999, Hunter-Gault became the Johannesburg, South Africa bureau chief for CNN.

Hunter-Gault has received numerous awards for journalism including two National News and Documentary Emmy Awards and two George Foster Peabody Awards. She has been recognized by the National Urban Coalition and the American Women in Radio and Television. Named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, Hunter-Gault has written articles for Essence, Ms., Life, and Saturday Review. Her courage as a pioneer integrationist has been chronicled by Calvin Trillen and recognized by the University of Georgia, where a hall is named for her and fellow student Hamilton Holmes. Her autobiography, In My Place, was published in 1992. Hunter-Gault’s exploration of modern Africa, entitled New News out of Africa: Uncovering Africa’s Renaissance, was published in 2006.

Hunter-Gault is the mother of a grown son and daughter and currently lives in South Africa with her husband, banker Ron Gault.

Accession Number

A2006.092

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/15/2006

6/17/2006

Last Name

Hunter-Gault

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Henry McNeal Turner High School

Frank L. Stanton Elementary School

E. R. Carter Elementary School

University of Georgia

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Charlayne

Birth City, State, Country

Due West

HM ID

HUN05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

My Values Are A Suit Of Armor.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/27/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Sarasota

Country

USA

Short Description

Newspaper reporter, television news correspondent, and civic activist Charlayne Hunter-Gault (1942 - ) won admittance to the segregated University of Georgia in 1961. She has reported for 'The New York Times', PBS’s 'McNeil-Lehrer Newshour', NPR, and CNN, for whom she is the Johannesburg, South Africa bureau chief.

Employment

The New Yorker

Washington University, St. Louis

NBC News

The New York Times

The MacNeil/Lehrer Report

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316349">Tape: 1 Slating of Charlayne Hunter-Gault's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316350">Tape: 1 Charlayne Hunter-Gault lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316351">Tape: 1 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316352">Tape: 1 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316353">Tape: 1 Charlayne Hunter-Gault explains the significance of the church in her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316354">Tape: 1 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls the origins of her love for Africa</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316355">Tape: 1 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316356">Tape: 1 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls how her family valued education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316357">Tape: 1 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her father's U.S. military service</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316037">Tape: 2 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls her father's experience as a U.S. military chaplain</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316038">Tape: 2 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recounts how her parents met, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316039">Tape: 2 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recounts how her parents met, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316040">Tape: 2 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316041">Tape: 2 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers moving to Atlanta, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316042">Tape: 2 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316043">Tape: 2 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers visiting New York City with her maternal grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316044">Tape: 2 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her middle-class background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316045">Tape: 2 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers moving to the Alaska Territory in 1954</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316046">Tape: 2 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her time in Anchorage, Alaska Territory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316047">Tape: 3 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her year in Anchorage, Alaska Territory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316048">Tape: 3 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers Henry McNeal Turner High School in Atlanta, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316049">Tape: 3 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls her high school accomplishments</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316050">Tape: 3 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her influences as a high school student, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316051">Tape: 3 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her influences as a high school student, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316052">Tape: 3 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes the impact of historically black schools in Atlanta, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316053">Tape: 3 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers volunteering to integrate the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316436">Tape: 4 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers the process of applying to University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316437">Tape: 4 Charlayne Hunter-Gault explains the policies used to exclude African Americans from public universities in Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316438">Tape: 4 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls being admitted by court order to University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316439">Tape: 4 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her state of mind as she prepared to enroll at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316440">Tape: 4 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers registering at University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316441">Tape: 4 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls the riot on her second night at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316442">Tape: 4 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers leaving the University of Georgia after the riot</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316443">Tape: 4 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls the drive back to Atlanta, Georgia after the riot at University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316444">Tape: 4 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes returning to the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316063">Tape: 5 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls her time at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316064">Tape: 5 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls her supporters at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316065">Tape: 5 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers her friends at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316066">Tape: 5 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls a breakthrough she had with fellow students at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316067">Tape: 5 Charlayne Hunter-Gault compares her experience at University of Georgia with Hamilton Holmes'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316068">Tape: 5 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes Hamilton Holmes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316069">Tape: 5 Charlayne Hunter-Gault reflects upon the courage of her generation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316070">Tape: 5 Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks about her marriage to Walter Stovall</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316367">Tape: 6 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism at University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316368">Tape: 6 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls moving to New York City to work for The New Yorker</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316369">Tape: 6 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes writing for the The New Yorker</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316370">Tape: 6 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers New Yorker Editor William Shawn helping her develop as a writer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316371">Tape: 6 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls why she cut short her fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316372">Tape: 6 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316373">Tape: 6 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her accomplishments at NBC</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317690">Tape: 7 Charlayne Hunter-Gault shares her thoughts about being a news anchor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317691">Tape: 7 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls reporting on Ralph Featherstone's funeral</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317692">Tape: 7 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers white editors' discomfort with black journalists</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317693">Tape: 7 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers opening a bureau of The New York Times in Harlem, New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317694">Tape: 7 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls changing The New York Times' standard term for African Americans from Negro to black</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317695">Tape: 7 Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks about being mistaken as white in Africa</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317696">Tape: 7 Charlayne Hunter-Gault reflects upon how she grew as a reporter at The New York Times</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317697">Tape: 7 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls leaving The New York Times to work for 'The MacNeil/Lehrer Report'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316374">Tape: 8 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers discrimination suits against The New York Times</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316375">Tape: 8 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls the first African American wedding announcement in The New York Times</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316376">Tape: 8 Charlayne Hunter-Gault explains how she landed an interview with President Hafez al-Assad of Syria</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316377">Tape: 8 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers her interview with President Hafez al-Assad of Syria</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316378">Tape: 8 Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks about 'Apartheid's People'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316379">Tape: 8 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls covering Nelson Mandela's release from prison</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316380">Tape: 8 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her relationship with Nelson Mandela</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317698">Tape: 9 Charlayne Hunter-Gault explains what made 'The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour' unique</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317699">Tape: 9 Charlayne Hunter-Gault explains her motivation for creating 'Apartheid's People'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317700">Tape: 9 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls 'Apartheid's People' interview subjects, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317701">Tape: 9 Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls 'Apartheid's People' interview subjects, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317702">Tape: 9 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers interviewing Thabo Mbeki</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317703">Tape: 9 Charlayne Hunter-Gault compares public broadcasting to corporate broadcasting</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317704">Tape: 9 Charlayne Hunter-Gault remembers interviewing Mengistu Haile Mariam</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317705">Tape: 9 Charlayne Hunter-Gault reflects upon the treatment of African leaders accused of crimes against humanity</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317706">Tape: 10 Charlayne Hunter-Gault reflects upon reporting in Zimbabwe</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317707">Tape: 10 Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks about Robert Mugabe's rule of Zimbabwe</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317708">Tape: 10 Charlayne Hunter-Gault considers the future of Zimbabwe</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317709">Tape: 10 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes the African American community's response to her work</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317710">Tape: 10 Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks about cultural production in South Africa</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317711">Tape: 10 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her current work</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317712">Tape: 10 Charlayne Hunter-Gault considers the history of post-colonial Africa</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317713">Tape: 10 Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks about the contemporary African renaissance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317714">Tape: 10 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes issues facing African women and children</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317715">Tape: 11 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes her hopes and concerns for the African American and African communities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317716">Tape: 11 Charlayne Hunter-Gault reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317717">Tape: 11 Charlayne Hunter-Gault reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317718">Tape: 11 Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks about her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317719">Tape: 11 Charlayne Hunter-Gault describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$8

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Charlayne Hunter-Gault recalls being admitted by court order to University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia
Charlayne Hunter-Gault talks about 'Apartheid's People'
Transcript
But we were determined to do this, and so, I enrolled at Wayne [State University, Detroit, Michigan] and Hamp [Hamilton Holmes] enrolled at Morehouse [College, Atlanta, Georgia], and I think he was enjoying it. I certainly was enjoying Wayne. It was a--you know, it wasn't a typical university, it was more like a city college. You know, there was one building that was about fifteen or sixteen floors, and it had university office building, offices, et cetera, and I think the student dormitories were in there, student rooms on the, you know, on three of the floors--three of the higher floors, one for graduate students, one for guys and one for girls. So, it wasn't a huge boarding school, because most of the students who went there were from Detroit [Michigan] or within commuting distance. And a lot of them were older, too, you know, because it, it was a city college. Some of them were coming back from [U.S] Army stuff or, you know, having to work their way through. But still, I got into it and enjoyed it and, you know, made a lot of friends and, in fact, I came back in--for the court case in December of '60 [1960], and it was just before Christmas, and the case lasted a week, and I had wanted to go after I finished testifying, because it was all the parties that were leading up to the end of the term and the judge--the state refused to let me go. I think it was just totally punitive. And so we stayed and then I flew back to Detroit, got my things and came home for Christmas. It was home however long the Christmas holidays were. And then I went back to Detroit for the next term in January, and I had just arrived. And one day, I had walked from one of the buildings into my dormitory and everybody was saying, "You got a phone call, you got a phone call," and I found that it was a reporter. I must try and remember her name, I thought I would never forget it, and she said it was such and such, so and so from the Associated Press. And she said, "Congratulations." And I said, "For what?" She said, "Oh, you haven't heard?" And I said, "No." And she said, "Well, you've just been admitted to the University of Georgia [Athens, Georgia]. Federal Judge [William Augustus] Bootle has just ordered you admitted to the University of Georgia." And I said, "Oh, my God, I can't believe it!" And of course, you know, I hadn't heard from [Donald] Hollowell who was like--he was more than a lawyer to me, he was almost like a father, and I certainly thought that, you know--but he just hadn't had--I mean, they just--it was just so big they hadn't--because this was the first major desegregation case in the South, other than Little Rock [Arkansas], but at certainly at the level of higher education.$$This was before the University of Alabama [Tuscaloosa, Alabama], I think that was in '63 [1963], or before [University of] Mississippi [Oxford, Mississippi]?$$Well--actually, Autherine Lucy had applied [to University of Alabama] earlier and been admitted under court order, but had been suspended for the riots which happened similar to us, but that's getting ahead of the story. And she wasn't re-admitted because she was very critical of the administration.$$Now she was in, in--$$Alabama.$$Alabama. Okay.$$And, so this was the first big opening.$But then I went to South Africa in '85 [1985]; that was one of the biggest stories that I did for them ['The NewsHour'; 'PBS NewsHour']. We did a five-part series that ultimately became 'Apartheid's People,' and we got a Peabody Award for that, the highest award in broadcast journalism, and it recognized that this was the first time that, you know, any television had actually looked at the people of apartheid, as opposed to the caricatures of the good and the evil and, you know, the oppressed and the oppressor. We actually tried to understand why an Afrikaner might be the way he was and, you know, what he thought and all of that. And--$$What conclusion did you reach, I mean, what, what were some of the insights gained?$$Well, you know, those who practiced apartheid or believed in apartheid could give you justification in the Bible for the supremacy of whites, and they--I think they actually believed it. That they had these God-given--this God-given right to rule. They actually could find in the Bible the justification for oppression. They believed it. And one of the people I interviewed told me that one of the Afrikaners said that, you know, "Well, we believe in giving black people their rights, but we have to first bring them up to the first world standards," that South Africa is first world and third world. Of course, it was a rationalization. He may have believed it. Because I went back and visited some of them after the end of apartheid and then said, "Okay, now how do you feel that blacks are about to take over?" "Well, you know, those who are taking over, they're first world, they, you know, they're different." And you know, without being racist, I mean, when I heard that I was so appalled. But, you know, now that I've been over there, it's--I would say the same thing, but for different reasons and for different motivations. I mean, it is first world and third world, I mean. Johannesburg [South Africa] is like Atlanta [Georgia] or New York [New York], or you know, city. Skyscrapers. High tech. Boutiques. Anything you wanna find. But five minutes from Johannesburg is third world. It's just when I analyze it that way, I'm not meaning it to say that black people will never be able to achieve rights 'til they're educated to the rights. I mean, that was the whole point of saying that, then. But Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa, talks about two economies now, and it's very much like the two societies that the Kerner Commission [National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders] talked about in 1968, you know, there's a white, prospering, economically stable white society and then there's the black one. And South Africa is doing things to change that equation, but it's gonna take a long time. So, you still have those two societies--one white and prospering, with few blacks joining it, and then one massively deprived, black, poor black community. So, anyway, those were--that was a critical intervention on our part in those days, '85 [1985]. And then I subsequently went many other places around the world to--I think I went Haiti, I think for [Jean-Bertrand] Aristide and, you know, some of the big stories of those times. I went abroad to cover, as well as, you know, big domestic stories, but we did analysis and in-depth reporting of these issues, and it was a great growing experience for me.$$Did you think in the late '80s [1980s] when you were there, in '85 [1985] and on, that apartheid would be over as soon as it was over?$$No, nobody did. Not even the African National Congress [ANC]. They were totally surprised when, when [Nelson] Mandela was released. I'd been planning to go back around about that time and had sent a producer down to kind of nose around and see what stories we might do, and she got back on a Friday, and I think it was Saturday that [F.W.] de Klerk said he was going to release Mandela. So we left on a Sunday. She was back for two days.