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.

Giving Voice to the Voiceless grant provides storytelling platform for black graduates

To add your support for future projects like this, please visit the Giving Voice to the Voiceless commitment webpage.

Looking back on history of the first black students at the University of Georgia will bring up names like Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Hunter Holmes and Mary Frances Early.

While these trailblazers built the foundation for integration at the University of Georgia, there are many more black students throughout the 1960s and 1970s who paved the way for the diverse culture that UGA students have today, but little is known of their stories.

That is changing thanks in part to the Giving Voice to the Voiceless grant, established by Charlayne Hunter-Gault and her husband, Ron Gault. Through the Giving Voice to the Voiceless grant, a team from the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library has started the Black Alumni Oral History Project. The project is collecting personal recollections from black students so they can share and document their oral histories and their time at UGA.

The project is directed by Steven Armour, a librarian at the Hargrett Library, who said the project was inspired by an interview that Hunter-Gault conducted in 2017 with the first three black students admitted to UGA as freshmen—Mary Diallo, Kerry Rushin Miller and Harold Black. Holmes, Hunter-Gault and Early all entered UGA after their freshmen year.

Ashley Carter and Janis Ware, a 1977 graduate of Terry College of Business, after their interview. (Photo: Submitted)

“It got me thinking about all of the other unheard stories and unknown names associated with black struggle on campus in the 1960s and 70s,” Armour said. “I was very excited when I discovered the Giving Voice to the Voiceless grants program because its scope is a great match for this project. It’s also a grant for students, and it felt like a project ripe for an ambitious student interviewer.”

That student interviewer was Ashley Carter, a fourth-year journalism student from Grady College who has conducted the first three interviews for the UGA Black Alumni Oral History Project with Ben Rucker, Janis Ware and Nawanna Lewis Miller (ABJ ’73).

“Above all else, this fund has allowed people to identify their stories, stories that matter,” said Carter of her experience. “Many who I have interviewed have said, ‘you are the first person who has asked me about my experience at UGA.’”

Armour and the University of Georgia Alumni Association were instrumental in identifying and finding the initial participants in the oral history, and word of mouth has attracted others. After initial research, Carter met with each to record their recollections from their time at UGA.

While some of the recollections are memories of forging new paths, other stories reflect a continued culture change on campus with stories of racism, bias and protests in classrooms, dorms and around campus. All the interviews focus on student life: where the students lived, what groups were they involved with like the Black Student Union and the many struggles they faced with being among the first black students on campus.

Miller, a pastor, recalls seeing news footage of Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter integrating UGA and her determination to attend school here. She entered as a freshman in 1969, just eight years after Holmes and Hunter entered UGA.

“The impact of their integration and what they went through, made me want to go there,” said  Miller, who graduated from the same high school, Turner High School in Atlanta, as Holmes and Hunter did. She recalls when she arrived, there were just over 19,000 students but only ten black students who entered UGA that same year.

The legacy of such a project does not fall lightly on Carter, and she is grateful for the personal awareness the project has brought her.

“Being involved with this project has helped me grow personally. Hearing these stories has made me a lot of more enlightened, more awakened.” — Ashley Carter

“It’s something special to sit in a room with someone else who had it so much harder. It makes you realize you are exactly where you need to be, and that others worked hard to make sure that I am here,” Carter said.

Pastor Nawanna Lewis Miller is a 1973 graduate of Grady College and was interviewed for the UGA Black Alumni Oral History Project. (Photo: submitted)

Carter graduates in May 2020, but she plans to conduct a few more interviews this semester before handing off the baton to someone else to continue.

She continues: “This is something that I hope lives on forever. These are stories that deserve to be told.”

In the meantime, the voices and lessons continue playing in Carter’s ears and she is grateful for the path these black students paved for her 40 and 50 years ago.

Carter thanks Miller for making UGA a better place for her and asks what kept her at UGA despite the early turmoil and strife. Miller considers the question and said she is thankful for everything she went through and has no regrets.

Miller responds: “You don’t have a choice to quit. You have a choice to succeed. And, you don’t just succeed, you succeed extremely well. There is a host of people coming behind you who need the wind of your wings to drag them forward. So, press, press, press toward the mark of the higher calling.”

And, fortunately for projects like the Black Alumni Oral History Project, these voices will keep moving forward.

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