In 1963 she became the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Georgia. It was the first of many firsts for one of the nation’s groundbreaking minority journalists.
Journalist, civil rights activist. Charlayne Hunter-Gault was born on February 27, 1942, in Due West, South Carolina, the daughter of Charles and Althea Hunter. Raised in Covington, Georgia, then Atlanta, Hunter-Gault attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, before a judge allowed her and a male classmate to desegregate the University of Georgia. In 1963 she became the first African American woman to graduate from the school. It was the first of many firsts for one of the nation’s groundbreaking minority journalists. After a fellowship, she joined WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., as a reporter and news anchor. She worked as the “Talk of the Town” reporter for the New Yorker magazine from 1963 to 1968. She joined the reporting staff of the New York Times in 1968, creating the newspaper’s Harlem bureau and convincing the newspaper’s editor to use the term “black” instead of “Negro.”
She joined public television’s The MacNeil/Lehrer Report in 1978 as a correspondent, winning many national awards for her reporting on “Apartheid’s People,” a special series on the struggle for civil rights in South Africa. Later she worked for National Public Radio as the chief African correspondent and joined CNN in 1999 as the news network’s Johannesburg bureau chief and correspondent. She resigned from the latter position in 2012 to pursue independent projects, including To the Mountaintop: My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement, a memoir geared toward young adults.
Her 1992 book, In My Place, is a memoir of her growing up in the South and recounts her experiences at the University of Georgia; in 2011, she donated her papers to the library of the school that had at one time resisted her admission. She married twice, first to Walter Stovall in 1963, then to Ron Gault in 1971. The marriages produced a daughter and a son, respectively.
Hunter-Gault, Charlayne. In My Place. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1992.