Stepping Stones UGA app traces history-making paths of UGA desegregation

Following the steps that Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63) and Hamilton Holmes took leading to the UGA Admissions Building…the terrifying night of riots at Myers Hall…and the refuge of the Killian House, are just a few of the scenes brought to reality through a new augmented reality iPhone app developed by a team of New Media Institute (NMI) students.

Stepping Stones UGA provides a tour of a few of the most significant scenes on campus and in Athens when Hunter-Gault and Holmes desegregated the university by enrolling as students in 1961. The app provides AR recreations of the way campus buildings and other Athens-area scenes looked in the early 1960s, along with maps of key sites and news clips of Hunter-Gault and Holmes stepping onto campus for the first time. The app can be used with geo-location while users interact with the app as they walk those same areas on campus, or it can be used remotely to understand UGA history.

Click above to view the Stepping Stones UGA app in action at The Arch.

The app was the vision of the Black Faculty and Staff Organization (BFSO) of UGA, which helped direct and partially fund the project. When Charles Davis, dean of Grady College heard about the project, he contributed some funds and introduced the organization to John Weatherford, NMI faculty and director of the NMI’s undergraduate capstone program.

“Because campus has changed and buildings have been renamed, we wanted to have a walking tour for historical purposes for the community,” said Susan Williams, current BFSO secretary and interim assistant dean for Diversity Equity and Inclusion at the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center. “That way when folks come to campus, that would be an option to learn more about UGA.”

Weatherford knew this vision would be a great capstone project, especially since a similar app had been developed in prior years, but the technology advances had advanced so quickly that an even richer experience would now be possible.

The group started working with Maurice Daniels, dean emeritus at the School of Social Work, and co-founder and director of The Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies. Daniels helped research key stops to be included in the app like the UGA Arch, where Holmes and Hunter-Gault arrived on campus; what is now the Holmes-Hunter Building where they registered for classes; the Killian House where Holmes lived during his studies; Myers Hall, where Hunter-Gault lived; and the Athens Courthouse, where the lawsuit was filed approving Holmes and Hunter-Gault as students.

“Projects like this are very much at the heart of what NMI is all about,” Weatherford said. “We focus on applied real-world experiences that allow students to engage with and be more informed about the world around them. We always aim for experiential opportunities, but when we are able to add the additional layer of learning more about our institution, that elevates the students’ learning opportunity to a different level.”

Although the Stepping Stones UGA app is not part of his capstone project, a graduate student in the NMI’s Emerging Media masters program, Ryan Fernandez, stepped forward to help. Fernandez is co-founder of Alpha Design Studio, an Athens-based firm specializing in architectural 3D renderings, animation and virtual reality. He was able to study old pictures that were available, take measurements and create the scale replicas of the landmarks as accurately as possible.

In the case of the Killian House, a private residence that was torn down years ago, Fernandez only had two partial pictures of the house and had to create approximate renderings based on nearby homes of a similar architectural style.

“Recreating buildings with minimal information are things I do all the time,” Fernandez said. “The photos don’t show the detail very well, and without plans, recreating what I thought was going on is about the only way to do it.”

Chelsey Perry (AB ‘21) was one of the students who worked on the project. Perry had been on the team that produced a documentary by Grady College commemorating the 60th anniversary of Desegregation.

“As a black student at UGA it felt nice to know that the University was devoting resources to creating an app like this,” said Perry. “I had previously interviewed Charlayne Hunter-Gault as well as other notable Black UGA graduates for UGA’s 60th anniversary of Desegregation documentary, so it was wonderful synchronicity to be working on this project at the same time.”

In addition to Perry, other NMI students involved with the project included Meghan Dougherty, Alex English, Bristol King and Frank Wu.

The Stepping Stones UGA app is available for iPhone users and can be downloaded from the App Store.

Williams concluded by saying she believes there are a lot of people who work on campus, let alone visitors to campus, who don’t know details about this pivotal time in the university’s history.

“Maybe the app will show them that where they walk every day on campus has historical significance,” Williams said.

UGA icon celebrates milestone birthday in a special way

Fundraising campaign honoring storytelling for the voiceless launches with gift from Charlayne Hunter-Gault, matching funds from UGA president

University of Georgia groundbreaker and alumna Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63) will celebrate a milestone birthday this Sunday, February 27, 2022. In honor of her 80th and in tribute to her dear friend, the late Valerie Boyd, Charlayne Hunter-Gault announced that she would be making a contribution to support the Giving Voice to the Voiceless Fund. To celebrate Hunter-Gault, UGA President Jere W. Morehead committed up to $25,000 of private discretionary funds to match, dollar-for-dollar, additional gifts made to this fund.

“As Charlayne celebrates this milestone birthday, we invite the UGA community to join the celebration by making a contribution to this program that is near and dear to her heart,” Morehead said.

The Giving Voice to the Voiceless program was created by Hunter-Gault and her husband, Ron Gault in 2018. The program was led by Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence and director of UGA’s Master of Fine Arts in Narrative Nonfiction program, before her death on Feb. 12.

The program provides grants to UGA students from all disciplines to help them pursue innovative projects that give voice to individuals, stories and topics that advance social justice, global understanding and the human good.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Valerie Boyd
Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Valerie Boyd in February 2018. Boyd became the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence in 2007.

Several unique programs have been supported by this fund, including an international group of writers that share stories about youth engagement, human rights and sustainability; the UGA Black Alumni Oral History Project; and a podcast that tells the story of Preston Cobb and his unjust execution in 1961.

“Ron and I are passionate about supporting students who are giving voice to the people in their stories who have no other voice,” Hunter-Gault said. “I appreciate President Morehead’s continued financial support of this important initiative and his recognition of my dear friend Valerie in this special way that will keep alive her great contribution to GVV. I was always inspired by the work Valerie did in her professional career as a writer, a journalist and a professor when she helped create the Giving Voice to the Voiceless program. Like the Zora Neale Hurston Valerie so eloquently details in ‘Wrapped in Rainbows,’ Valerie, too, was and remains wrapped in rainbows, shining her loving light wherever it’s needed to help make this world a better place.”

A crowd-funding campaign is underway to raise $25,000 to fulfill the match provided by Morehead and create $50,000 in new funding to the Giving Voice to the Voiceless program. The campaign will run through March 15, and alumni and friends are invited to contribute.



To participate in the Giving Voice to the Voiceless fund, please visit our crowd-funding website.


Giving Voice to the Voiceless names 2021 grant recipients

Giving Voice to the Voiceless, a program awarding grants to UGA students for projects amplifying marginalized voices, has named its 2021 recipients.

The program is created and supported by journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63) and her husband, Ron Gault, with contributions from others.

Among the seven projects that were awarded this year are funds to support an international group of writers sharing stories about youth engagement, human rights and sustainability; development of a community advisory board to hear stories from transgender and gender nonconforming Latinx individuals; and funds helping students produce and promote a podcast telling the story of Preston Cobb and his unjust execution in 1961.

This marks the third year that GVV funds were awarded, and Hunter-Gault is pleased with the growth of the program.

“What has become so clear to me is that UGA is a microcosm of society and UGA can do some creative things that can help the entire country,” Hunter-Gault said. “What I noticed going through the applications is that the voices are people of color. They are Black people. They are Latin people. They are gay people. They are people of every representation of our humanity.”

Valerie Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Writer in Residence at Grady College, administers the GVV program.

“We had a difficult job because we had so many great projects to select from,” Boyd said. “They were all well thought out and articulated.”

This year’s applicants represent undergraduate and graduate student projects from majors across the university including the following:

  • Luis R. Alvarez-Hernandez, Amplifying the Voices of Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Latinx Communities — aid to gather testimonies and create a community advisory board to provide feedback on research and findings for addressing social justice issues.
  • Aron Hall, Brooklyn Cemetery reinternment project research — funds to help with research and development of a master plan to move Black residents buried in Oconee Hill Cemetery to Brooklyn Cemetery, the final resting place for hundreds of Black Athens, Georgia, residents.
  • Genevieve Guzmán, From Dark, Silent Rooms: Giving Voice to Patients of Severe ME/CFS — funding to write and publish profiles about individuals suffering from this debilitating disease.
  • Nipuna Ambanpola, IVolunteer International Writers’ Council Program — support for ten international writers to share stories about topics like advocacy, human rights and sustainable development goals on the website of this tech-nonprofit.
  • Kevin Nwogu, Servant Leader Scholars Program — support a summer retreat providing academic and professional development to incoming and current college students from Stephenson High School through the Servant Leader Scholars Program.
  • Teresa Espallargas, Laura Vieira and Jean Costa, Voices from the Global South — publication of a special online magazine that provides a platform of self-expression for people from marginalized and formerly colonized communities including Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.
  • Steve Armour, faculty contact from UGA Libraries who will hire student to work on the Black Alumni Oral History Project, Phase II — interviewing Black UGA alumni from the 1960s and early 1970s.
  • Stephen Berry and Barbara McCaskill, faculty contacts from the Department of History and Department of English who will hire two students to work on InQuest Season One: The Curious Case of Preston Cobb. Funds will go toward student contributions to produce and promote the six-episode podcast series about a Black teenager unjustly executed in 1961.

Most of these projects are expected to take place in 2021.

More information can be found on the Giving Voice to the Voiceless webpage.

Giving Voice to the Voiceless grants rely on support from contributors. With a gift to the Giving Voice to the Voiceless Fund, you can help students engage in meaningful work in the world while they are students, sharing the voices they discover with others through experiential learning, a top academic priority of the University and the College.

Donate here through March 31, 2021.

Journalism students create legacy project with documentary about UGA desegregation

Editor’s Note: The 60th Anniversary of the Desegregation at UGA documentary can be viewed in its entirety on the Grady College YouTube channel.

Many UGA students spend their time as students learning skills that build toward a capstone project.  While some define that seminal project early on, others wait for it to unfold, gradually over time. Then there is the rare student like Kelsey Coffey (AB ’20) who has that defining project of her time at UGA presented to her a month before graduation.

The invitation presented to Coffey was to help research,  anchor and report on an hour-long documentary, “60th Anniversary of Desegregation at UGA,” produced by Grady College Newsource.

Kelsey Coffey graduated in December with the degree in journalism.

“When I started at the University of Georgia, I couldn’t have dreamed finishing this way,” Coffey said. “Doing this project was the greatest honor of my life and my time at UGA. It was an honor, a privilege and a gift to be involved.”

Coffey and a group of  10 students worked under the direction of supervising producer Dodie Cantrell-Bickley and other Grady College faculty to put together a retrospective and study of the social impact of desegregating UGA. The documentary includes rare, archived news footage from 1961 of Charlayne Hunter (now Hunter-Gault) and Hamilton Holmes entering campus; perspectives from other students during that time; current interviews with Hunter-Gault, Mary Frances Early, Hamilton Holmes, Jr. and others; and a look at the current impact and future plans of diversity at UGA.

The idea for the documentary was presented to Cantrell-Bickley by Dean Charles Davis, who obtained funding support from the Office of the President at the University of Georgia. Cantrell-Bickley enlisted other faculty members including Valerie Boyd, Amanda Bright, Mark Johnson and Ralitsa Vassileva to help the students with the story structure, fact-checking, historical context and consistency.

The archival footage was sourced through the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection and UGA Public Affairs at the University of Georgia Libraries. The WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection is part of the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection.

While it is the news coverage from 1961 that gives the documentary its sense of perspective, it is the current interviews with Hunter-Gault, Early and Hamilton Holmes, Jr. that generate its lasting resonance.

“Having the characters tell their stories in their own voices is what gives this project value over time,” Johnson, a content advisor on the project, said. “To preserve their voices telling their story is what will make it so compelling at the 75th anniversary of desegregation and beyond.”

Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence who served as a historical consultant for the documentary, said that Hunter-Gault was extremely generous with her time and was interviewed by the students for nearly three hours during the first session.

“Charlayne was excited watching these young journalists work and ask questions that were great,” Boyd said. “You could see her sheer enjoyment of the process.”

While Hunter-Gault may have been receiving a lot of energy from the students, it was a reciprocal experience for the students.

“Charlayne Hunter-Gault is a gift to humanity,” Coffey said of her interactions with the professional journalist. “To be able to share time and space with an individual of her caliber is unbelievable. She was kind, gracious, funny, authentic—all of the things you would hope she would be, she is and more.”

Further reflections from students involved with the project are being gathered now and will be shared in coming weeks on the Grady Newsource website.

The documentary concludes with a panel discussion about current initiatives and future plans at UGA. The panel included (upper left, clockwise) Charlayne Hunter-Gault; Kelsey Coffey; Victor K. Wilson, UGA vice president for student affairs; Jalen Polk, UGA Black Leadership Council; and Alton Standifer, UGA assistant to the president.

The UGA student chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, another important connection since Hunter-Gault is a national member of NABJ, is coordinating the premiere of the desegregation documentary.

“Charlayne has been an influential leader among NABJ and the Civil Rights movement, so it is important for us to continue to uplift the NABJ community locally by helping with this event,” said Tylar Norman, NABJ chapter president. “I hope that the legacy of this documentary on campus will be one that unites us and reminds everyone of the brave people who took the first step toward desegregating UGA and pursuing diversity and inclusion for all.”

When all is said and done, the legacy of this project focuses not only on the incredible story of desegregating UGA, but in the passion and work ethic the students telling the story committed to this project.

“The biggest bonus of this project were the students,” Cantrell-Bickley concluded. “They  produced excellent work, and when you produce work like that and you find in your soul that you are capable of producing that, you  will not want to hold yourself to a standard less than that because you know what you can achieve. Our mission is an exceptional education for our students…so, if this college can help students do that—yay!”

The 60th Anniversary of Desegregation documentary.

Admiration and appreciation for Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes

The courage and sacrifice of Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes 60 years ago might be termed “good trouble” today, however their heroic actions were complicated and divisive in 1961. Thanks to their steadfast resolve to attend class at the University of Georgia, they broke down barriers, opened the door to progress and created opportunities for generations to come by desegregating the university.

January 9 is the milestone anniversary when Hunter (now Hunter-Gault) started her quest for a journalism degree and Hamilton Holmes started his studies in science on his way to a career in medicine and healthcare administration.

Hunter-Gault’s impact is immense according to Charles Davis, dean of Grady College.

“The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘There is nothing more majestic than the determined courage of individuals willing to suffer and sacrifice for their freedom and dignity,’” Davis quoted. “Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s courage, selflessness and most importantly, love for others and for UGA continue to amaze. She always answers the call, every time. I’ve never known another person who lifts me up in quite the same way. Majestic is a good way to describe her.”

Grady College alumni and friends share messages of appreciation and admiration on the 60th Anniversary of Desegregation. The complete video of appreciation messages for Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes can be viewed here. (editor: Dayne Young)

Hunter-Gault is well-known for her legacy at UGA, but her legacy at the College is equally important continued Davis. A few of her many contributions to the College include regular visits to interact with students; faculty support through the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence, held by Valerie Boyd; service as a former board member of the Peabody Awards; and co-benefactor along with her husband, Ron, of the Giving Voice to the Voice Fund. The fund provides grants to those amplifying stories that need to be told.

Hunter-Gault continues to inspire students and young alumni today. Recent graduate Ashley Carter (AB ’20) worked on the UGA Black Alumni Oral History Project through the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library that was funded by the Giving Voice to the Voiceless grant.

Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter-Gault at the inaugural Holmes Hunter Lecture in 1985. (Photo: Rick O’Quinn)

“Charlayne Hunter-Gault and the late Hamilton Holmes, I cannot explain how thankful I am for your bravery when you stepped on the University of Georgia’s campus for the first time,” Carter said. “That set the tone for years to come and students like myself who have graduated, and students who are still being admitted, we thank you. We appreciate you.”

Following graduation with a journalism degree in 1963, Hunter-Gault started her impressive career, first on the staff of “The New Yorker,” followed by The New York Times, PBS’s “MacNeil/Lehrer Report” and what is now the “PBS NewsHour.”  She has served as chief correspondent in Africa for National Public Radio, as well as bureau chief and correspondent in Johannesburg, South Africa, for CNN.  Hunter-Gault has written several books including “In My Place,” which will be the featured book in March for the UGA Alumni Association’s Between the Pages virtual book club. Hunter-Gault has been honored with several awards, including two Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards, including her coverage of Africa for NPR.

Her work has inspired numerous journalists, including some of the College’s most notable alumni like Deborah Roberts (ABJ ‘82), Ernie Johnson (ABJ ‘78) and Monica Pearson (MA ’14).

“I owe a debt of gratitude to you and Hamilton Holmes for paving the way for me at UGA,” said Roberts, a national correspondent for ABC, in a message to Hunter-Gault. “I wouldn’t be here at ABC News if it weren’t for you two. I stand on your shoulders, and my success is your success.”

Charlayne Hunter-Gault at the Centennial celebration for the college in April 2015. (Photo: Wingate Downs)

January 9, 2021, marks the start of a series of events at the University of Georgia to mark the progress that has been made and the continued work to create a more inclusive and welcoming campus. The anniversary celebration will continue for the next several months and includes a series of events in celebration of Hunter-Gault, Holmes and Mary Frances Early who transferred to UGA as a graduate student and was the first Black student to graduate from UGA in 1962.

Grady College is in process of hosting several events in association with the 60th Anniversary of Desegregation. Grady Newsource has produced a half-hour documentary about the impact of Hunter-Gault and Holmes that is expected to air in February. On Feb. 4, Grady will sponsor a virtual Campus Read event hosted by the UGA Press and featuring author Calvin Trillin. Trillin is the author of “An Education in Georgia: Charlayne Hunter, Hamilton Holmes, and the Integration of the University of Georgia,” and the conversation will be moderated by Valerie Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence and Grady faculty member.

Please visit UGA’s 60th Anniversary of Desegregation website for a complete list of events.

Award-winning journalist and namesake to deliver Holmes-Hunter Lecture

Grady College alumna Charlayne Hunter-Gault, an award-winning journalist, will present the 2018 Holmes-Hunter Lecture Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. in the Chapel.

Hunter-Gault took time to talk with students and faculty members during the announcement of her Giving Voice to the Voice Fund in April 2016.
Hunter-Gault took time to talk with students and faculty members during the announcement of her Giving Voice to the Voice Fund in April 2016.

The lecture is named in honor of Hunter-Gault and her classmate Hamilton Holmes, the first African-American students to attend UGA. They arrived on campus in 1961 after civil rights leaders in Atlanta successfully challenged the segregation policy at the state’s universities. Hunter-Gault graduated from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1963, going on to work for prestigious media outlets like The New Yorker, The New York Times, PBS, CNN and NPR.

“We are delighted that Charlayne will return to campus to provide the Holmes-Hunter Lecture this year,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “She has achieved so much in her career as a groundbreaking journalist, and we are deeply grateful that she continues to give back to her alma mater in so many ways.”

Hunter-Gault and her husband, Ronald Gault, recently established a new endowment, Giving Voice to the Voiceless, to provide grants to UGA students promoting social justice and global understanding.

Among numerous awards for her reporting, Hunter-Gault won two Emmys for national news and documentary coverage and two Peabody Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism, administered by Grady College. She was the first African-American Commencement speaker at UGA in 1988. In 2001, the academic building where Hunter-Gault and Holmes registered was renamed the Holmes-Hunter Academic Building in their honor, marking the 40th anniversary of the desegregation of the university.

Sponsored by the Office of the President, the Holmes-Hunter Lecture focuses on race relations, civil rights and education and has been held annually since 1985.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault announces Giving Voice to the Voiceless fund

Award-winning journalist, author and distinguished University of Georgia alumna Charlayne Hunter-Gault has established a new endowment, Giving Voice to the Voiceless. The endowment, created by Hunter-Gault and her husband, Ronald Gault, will provide grants to university students to promote social justice and global understanding by giving voice to the voiceless, the charting light of the life and work of Hunter-Gault.

“From Athens to Africa and beyond, my ‘journeys to the horizon’ as a journalist have tried to find people whose voices need to be heard so they can realize their dreams for themselves and their communities,” Hunter-Gault said. “I hope this fund will encourage Georgia Dawgs from anywhere in the university to travel near and far, as I have tried to do, to give voice to those whose voices are unheard.”

Hunter-Gault announced the fund during her keynote address at the fifth annual Chess and Community Conference at the Georgia Center on April 1. Hunter-Gault has reported on the Chess and Community program, created and directed by UGA alumnus Lemuel LaRoche, on PBS.

“Charlayne Hunter-Gault is an instrumental figure in the history of this institution,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “We are honored that she and Ron have established this fund, which will further Charlayne’s profound legacy and will positively impact the lives of our students.”

Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication Dean Charles Davis lauded “the remarkable work and commitment of Charlayne Hunter-Gault—from her PBS program ‘Race Matters’ that has shown us Lemuel LaRoche’s dedication to chess and community in Athens, to her Peabody-winning stories and her service on the Peabody Board of Jurors, and as a champion of journalism the world over.

“Her subjects give voice, and their personal stories move from our ears to our hearts,” Davis said, echoing the citation accompanying Hunter-Gault’s second Peabody Award.

“We are grateful to be the stewards of Charlayne and Ron’s vision for this fund,” Davis said. “As it grows, it will help generations of students engage in innovative projects, internships, study abroad experiences, field study and other endeavors that give voice to the voiceless.”

“Ron and I are honored to launch this fund with our contribution,” Hunter-Gault said. “We hope others will join to help students to give voice to voiceless individuals and their stories, and in so doing, to advance social justice, global understanding and the human good.

“This is especially a time when the voices of all good people need to be heard,” she said. “I hope this fund will help students find and affirm the voices of people everywhere who fight for freedom, justice and equality for themselves and their people.”

Hunter-Gault will present a public lecture on “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” at UGA this fall.

Hunter-Gault, a 1963 graduate of Grady College, was the first African-American woman to attend UGA. After graduating, she joined the staff of The New Yorker, followed by The New York Times, PBS’ “MacNeil/Lehrer Report” and what is now the “PBS NewsHour.” In 1997, she became the chief correspondent in Africa for National Public Radio. She joined CNN in 1999 as its bureau chief and correspondent in Johannesburg, South Africa, and returned to NPR as a special correspondent in 2005. She has authored several books, including “To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement.” Hunter-Gault has been honored with several awards, including two Emmy Awards and three Peabody Awards.

For more information about the fund or to support and collaborate on the project, please contact Parker Middleton at