By Kelley Weiss, class of 2003
Charlayne Hunter-Gault has built a reputation for being one of broadcast’s premier journalists. She exceeded boundaries throughout her life starting with being the first female African-American student to attend the University of Georgia. Desegregating the university was a struggle, but she perservered and was the first African-American woman to graduate from University of Georgia.
After completing college Hunter-Gault went on to a successful career in journalism, which she began working for The New Yorker. After The New Yorker, she was an investigative reporter and local news anchor in Washington, D.C., and then worked for the New York Times for 10 years. She worked for 20 years at PBS and was a national correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. One of Hunter -Gault's highlights was interviewing Nelson Mandela after his release from prison. She moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1997 to work for National Public Radio as chief correspondent in Africa. In 1999 she joined CNN to work as the Johannesburg bureau chief and correspondent.
She has received several honors and awards throughout her career. In 1991 the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications awarded her the William Allen White Foundation National Citation in journalism for her journalistic accomplishments.
She also won two Emmy awards and two Peabody Awards, one for "Apartheid’s People" a series on life during apartheid in South Africa with NewsHour and the other for general reporting in Africa in 1998. She also was the recipient of 1986 Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists, the 1990 Sidney Hillman Award, the American Women in Radio and Television Award, the Good Housekeeping Broadcast Personality of the Year Award, the Tom Paine Award, Amnesty International’s Media Spotlight Award and the African-American Institute for outstanding coverage of Africa.
Hunter-Gault is the author of the book In My Place (1992), which gives a memoir of her involvement in the Civil Rights movement and her experience as the first black woman admitted to the University of Georgia.
She lives in Johannesburg with her husband Ronald T. Gault, investment banker, and two children Susan and Chuma.
"I've always felt that the power of journalism, the kind of journalism that I do—and we do here—lies in our ability to elicit from the person their beliefs so that the public will be able to judge the integrity and rightness of both beliefs or the wrongness of them" — Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Washington Post Press Club Foundation radio interview March 18, 1994