Announcing Scripps College’s 2018 Commencement Speaker: Civil Rights Activist Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Scripps College’s 2018 commencement speaker: Charlayne Hunter-Gault


Dear Scripps College Community Members,

I am pleased to announce Scripps College’s 2018 commencement speaker: civil rights activist and award-winning journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault.

Hunter-Gault became the first African American woman to enroll at the University of Georgia, Athens (UGA), in 1961, when she and her high school classmate Hamilton Holmes won a lawsuit challenging the school’s 176-year-old history of segregation. Her fight for admission to the whites-only university is an inspirational story of persistence that includes an almost two-year legal battle, a transfer midway through her college studies from Wayne State University in Detroit, and, ultimately, the U.S. District Court ruling. She has written books about her experience with integration and civil rights, including the two memoirs In My Place (1992) and To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement (2012).

Hunter-Gault graduated from UGA in 1963 and accepted her first job as an editorial assistant at The New Yorker magazine in New York City. She later advanced to The Talk of the Town staff, becoming the magazine’s first black reporter. In 1968, she won a Russell Sage Fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied journalism in its graduate program and also served as an editor of its magazine, Transaction. After reporting on the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, D.C., for the magazine, she left Washington University prematurely, following the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and unrest across America, to join NBC’s WRC-TV station in D.C. At WRC, she served as a reporter and evening anchor. In 1969, she joined The New York Times and, during her tenure there, she established the paper’s first Harlem bureau. A decade later, she returned to broadcast—this time public television—soon moving into her role as national correspondent and substitute anchor for PBS’s The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.

Hunter-Gault also authored New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa’s Renaissance, which she wrote following career assignments as bureau chief for both NPR and CNN during the 17 years she lived in South Africa. Her latest manuscript is Corrective Rape, an e-book about the practice of some South African men raping gay women to “correct” their sexual orientation. She currently works as a special correspondent for PBS’ NewsHour on Race Matters, a series that looks at solutions to racism.

Hunter-Gault’s accolades during her journalism career include two national news and documentary Emmy Awards as well as two George Foster Peabody Broadcast Awards. She is married to Ronald Gault and has two children, Suesan, an artist, and Chuma, an actor.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Class of 2018 student representatives, who devoted significant time and energy to select an exceptional speaker who will challenge and inspire us all.

Be sure to visit the Scripps College Commencement 2018 website for more information and updates.


Lara Tiedens