This WSB clip from January 17, 1961 features Hamilton
Holmes and Charlayne
Hunter on the campus of The University of Georgia. Holmes and Hunter became the first two African American
students admitted to the University, one of many segregated southern
When they initially tried to apply
in the Winter Quarter of 1959, they were not accepted because
of “limited space.” Holmes attended Morehouse
College on a full
scholarship, but continued to re-submit applications every quarter
in hopes of gaining access to the University's better science
facilities. Walter Danner, the University Registrar, wrote
a letter to President Aderhold, recommending that Aderhold only
admit transfer students who needed to leave their present school
in order to complete their degrees, or freshman who had never attended
college. Holmes fit neither of these categories and was rejected.
On September 2, 1960, Holmes and Hunter filed
a civil suit against Danner for the repeated refusal of their applications.
At trial, Judge William
Bootle issued a ruling stating that Holmes and Hunter
“would have already been admitted had it not been for their race
and color.” UGA finally accepted them, and they registered for classes
on January 9, 1961. Click here to see that day’s issue of Red
While Holmes and Hunter registered for classes,
over 100 students stood outside the building chanting “2, 4, 6,
8, we don’t want to integrate.” Just three days later, a riot broke
out in front of Myers, Hunter’s dorm (Holmes lived off campus).
The plethora of students that lashed out by throwing rocks, bottles,
and fireworks was so violent that police used tear gas to dispense
the crowd. Click
here to read what Red and Black
columnist Terry Hazelwood said in an editorial after
The riot sparked a mass uproar of varying opinions
on integration. Thomas Brahana, a UGA math professor,
asked his students to write an in-class essay about their feelings
regarding integration; much of their feedback vacillated between
positive and negative. One perplexed student inquired, “What I don’t
understand is why we don’t mind eating with a Negro in the kitchen
but we wouldn’t want to eat with him in our dining room” (Essay
1). Another student pointed out, “The Negroes in the South definitely
live at a lower status than most whites, but the reason for this
is that the whites have kept them at this low level. I can’t see
how people who call themselves citizens of a democracy allow these
conditions to exist” (Essay 24).
students wanted segregation upheld. One who opposed the general
enforcement of equal rights and opportunities for African Americans
wrote, “The Negroid race is mentally and morally inferior to the
Caucasian race” (Essay 8).
The day after the riot, Dean J.A. Williams (Dean of Students) sent a letter suspending
Hunter and Holmes from the University for safety reasons.
Their suspension did not go over well with some faculty, who risked
their jobs by signing a resolution demanding
Hunter and Holmes's immediate readmission.
By January 16, the students had been readmitted to the University.
Perhaps students today will question,
as does the interviewer in this WSB clip, whether the harassment
and social isolation that Holmes and Hunter
endured was worth the effort. Statistics have indicated
that long term, positive change resulted from the students' struggles.
In 1961, only two African American students were enrolled
at The University
of Georgia. In 2006 there were 380 African American
students in the freshman class, and approximately one
in five incoming first-year students
were racially and ethnically diverse.
Resources (click here)
Printable Version (click here)
1. What did your parents and or grandparents think of integration
in their schools? What were their opinions of integration
2. What have you, as a student, personally gained by going to
a school that is now integrated? Is your school truly integrated
or are there still signs of segregation on different levels?
3. What more could be done in both your school and community to
educate its members and citizens on the importance of cultural diversity
and differences between people of different races?
4. Dictionary.com defines affirmative action as “a policy
designed to redress past discrimination against women and minority
groups through measures to improve their economic and educational
opportunities.” Read our story The
NAACP and the Bibb County Commissioners in the Freedom
on Film Macon
pages that discusses the institution of affirmative action practices
in city government. What is your opinion on affirmative
action as a policy to redress discrimination?
it to the Streets!
Divide into two groups. Once the groups have been formed, declare
one group in support of Affirmative
Action, and one group against
it. Spend a week or two researching Affirmative Action cases
in your state. Formulate
a two-page position paper that defends your group’s side of the
case. Conclude with a classroom debate, moderated by your teacher,
on the validity of Affirmative Action.
Adams, Emily Doyle, Ashley Elam, Claire Noonan, Laura Ryan, Christina
Smith, and Bobby Thompson in
Professor Barbara McCaskill's ENGL 2400 (Survey of Multicultural
American Literature) at The University of Georgia, Spring 2007.
Editors and Researchers: Lauren Chambers,
Christina L. Davis, Aggie Ebrahimi, Courtney Thomas, and Professor
Web Site Designer: William Weems
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