Holmes-Hunter Lecture to Feature Spelman College President with Charlayne Hunter-Gault

The president of Spelman College will present the Holmes-Hunter Lecture at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, in the University of Georgia Chapel. Helene Gayle will be in conversation with journalist and author Charlayne Hunter-Gault, one of the namesakes of the annual event.

The Holmes-Hunter Lecture is in honor of Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes, the first Black students to attend the University of Georgia. The university created the lecture in 1985 as part of its bicentennial and the Office of the President sponsors the event.

Holmes and Hunter-Gault applied to the University of Georgia in 1959, but were denied. A trial was held for the pair, where a judge ruled in favor of the two, stating they “would have already been admitted had it not been for their race and color.”

Holmes and Hunter-Gault enrolled at the University of Georgia on Jan. 9, 1961, officially marking the university’s desegregation.

“We knew where we were going and how to get there,” Hunter-Gault said. “And so this was what propelled us to withstand all of the ugliness that we faced at the beginning and continue on to get our degrees.”

The Holmes-Hunter Lecture is given by an honorable public figure each year and focuses on race relations, civil rights and education. 

Gayle, this year’s presenter, is the 11th president of Spelman College in Atlanta with a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University. Gayle previously served as president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, where she focused on closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the region. 

By honoring the legacy of both Holmes and Hunter-Gault and inviting distinguished speakers like Gayle, the lecture series aims to provide a platform for insight and discussion around the challenges and advancements of creating a more diverse and inclusive university.

“We need a coalition of the generations so that your generation can share the experiences of my generation in order to make yours a better generation,” Hunter-Gault said.

Kimberly Thomas is a third-year journalism and international affairs major covering diversity and equity; graduate assistant Karmen Morrison conducted the interview with Charlayne Hunter-Gault for the Reporting I course in spring 2024.

 

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