Charlayne Hunter-Gault Announces $25,000 Gift from UGA for Fund

The University of Georgia will commit $25,000 to the Giving Voice to the Voiceless Fund, Charlayne Hunter-Gault said Wednesday during a virtual book club discussion. 

Charlayne Hunter-Gault, the first Black woman to attend the University of Georgia, speaks with Angelique Jackson, a reporter and UGA alumni, about her book “In My Place” on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, via livestream. Hunter-Gault has been speaking at various events for UGA since January to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the university’s desegregation. (Photo/Maddy Franklin)

By: Maddy Franklin

The University of Georgia will commit $25,000 to the Giving Voice to the Voiceless Fund, Charlayne Hunter-Gault said Wednesday during a virtual book club discussion. 

While discussing her book, “In My Place,” with reporter and UGA alumni Angelique Jackson, Hunter-Gault, the first Black woman to attend UGA, revealed that upon receiving the news about the gift she “shed a tear.” 

The fund, which was created by Hunter-Gault and her husband, allows students at the university to take on projects that uplift and engage marginalized communities who have historically been “voiceless” in various fields. 

Hunter-Gault said she hopes that these projects will also foster discussions among the younger and older generations, allowing room for listening and learning. 

“I think that for us to continue to move forward on the path towards a more perfect union, we need a coalition of the generations,” said Hunter-Gault. 

Hunter-Gault is the fifth author to speak at a Between the Pages event, which is a virtual book club series that features works from UGA alumni. 

Despite the emphasis on alumni authored books, increasing student engagement is of the utmost importance to the team behind the series. 

“We’re really trying to get students to be a part of this opportunity to hear directly from alumni authors,” said Sarah Sonenberg, the organizer of the series. 

Fifty-eight of the over 500 people that registered for the event were students and prior to the event, the UGA Athletic Association and the UGA Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity and Community provided 500 free copies of “In My Place” to students.

The book focuses on Hunter-Gault’s upbringing and early life, all of which prepared her for her historic admittance to UGA. 

She got through the experience with the help of her role models, including her mother and grandmother who encouraged her interest in journalism and instilled in her the values of faith and education.

As a child, Hunter-Gault simply wanted to be like Brenda Starr, a fictional reporter, but later her goals narrowed down to wanting to be a voice for minorities. 

“I also felt very strongly that I wanted to write about people of color, Black people initially, in ways that were recognizable to themselves,” said Hunter-Gault. 

Part of this included writing a memo to an editor at The New York Times about beginning to use the word “Black” instead of “negro” in stories on Black people, which later became an industry standard. 

Today, through her fund, she wants to inspire students to forge paths where they too can make those types of differences, but she also stressed the importance of finding your own voice and interests. 

“You know, you don’t have to, you know, be an activist, just be excellent,” said Hunter-Gault.

How I Wrote the Story: I reported this event not only because it’s on the beat that I’m covering this semester — arts and entertainment — but also because Charlayne Hunter-Gault is someone I find really admirable and I always enjoy hearing her speak. Through covering this event, I learned how to do a quick turnaround story and how to present the most important information from an event to readers.