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Zachary Faison: The Millennial President

Zachary Faison At A Glance

Getting Started

This summer, Zachary Faison was named one of the UGA Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40 honorees. He was selected for his impressive accomplishments and commitment to his alma mater. A 2006 graduate, Zachary attended law school at the University of Georgia. After graduation, Zachary earned his Certificate of Fundraising Management from Indiana University. In 2015,  he joined a small group of higher education administrators at Harvard’s Institute for Educational Management. “It was a very intensive institute that gave us expanded insight on being leading administrators at colleges and universities around the country,” says Zachary. “It really helped to support my trajectory as an academic administrator and leader in higher education.”

Making an Impact

Zachary serves as president and CEO of Florida’s first historically black college or university, making him the youngest HBCU president in America. “It’s inspiring work. Every day I get to see the impact upon the lives of students, particularly students of color.”

While at Edward Waters College, Zachary has established an honors college, a center for undergraduate research and is in the process of launching an online degree program. Looking forward, Zachary wants to see the institution grow, not only in enrollment numbers, but “in the expansion of academic profiles and offerings.” Edward Waters College has plans to offer graduate-level programs and become more engaged in the local Jacksonville community.

About 90% of EWC’s students, while academically successful, are eligible for Pell Grants and struggle to pay tuition. Last year, Zachary established a program to help meet this need. If students have an outstanding balance of up to $3,500, EWC will match the balance. “We wanted to do whatever we possibly could to ensure students wouldn’t get this close to the finish line and not finish.” Because of this new program, a significant number of students are able to return to school and continue earning their degree.

Proud to be a Dawg

When asked about the first time he set foot on UGA’s campus, Zachary recalls a feeling of awe. “My eyes were wide open at how expansive the campus was … how beautiful it was … the amazing history that goes along with it. It was incredible.”

During his time at UGA, Zachary was involved in the law school’s Moot Court, a mock trial team that competes nationally. “For me to have the chance to compete with students that have gone on to do such extraordinary things is something I will always remember and cherish,” says Zachary.

Zachary Faison will be honored during the ninth annual 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon in Athens on September 13.

Be sure to check out the other impressive 40 Under 40 honorees.

Meet Black Alumni Council President Dr. Ericka Davis (AB ’93)

Dr. Ericka Davis (AB ’93) became the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council president on July 1. We invited her to share a few words with you, our alumni family, as she enters this role:

Ericka Davis (AB '93)When I first stepped onto UGA’s campus in the spring of 1988, I never imagined that the experience would be so life changing. When my parents drove off, and I walked through the doors of Brumby Hall to explore my new home, one student, Cameo “Cami” Garrett (AB ’92), approached me and asked if I was new to UGA and did I know anyone. I said yes that I was new, and no that I didn’t know anyone. She immediately said that I could come with her and that was the beginning of my meeting many other students who became more than just classmates but family both during my time at UGA and through the years since graduation.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was joining more than an institution of higher learning, but a family and a nation at the same time. The Black Alumni UGA family and Bulldog Nation has served as a great source of love, support, development and encouragement to me since that day in 1988. The people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had and the memories that were made are priceless to me.

That’s also why I wanted my daughter, Jessica Davis ’20, to attend UGA and after completing her first year, she’s just as passionate about “Her UGA” as I am about mine. I’m even more proud of being a part of the rich legacy of courage and determination that belongs to all African American alumni. That legacy began on January 9, 1961, with our founders, Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63), Hamilton Holmes (BS ’63), and Mary Frances Early (MMED ’62, EDS ’71). The doors they opened for us is a debt that I feel I could never repay and am morally obligated to do my part to pay it forward. That’s how the 1961 Club began. It’s a tribute to the sacrifice those three made and a reminder that the sacrifice, nor the purpose behind it, should be forgotten or taken lightly. We have one unifying goal: to keep the Arch open to all.

As the incoming president of the Black Alumni Leadership Council (BALC), I am committed to that goal and to being an advocate for UGA. I have been honored to work with the “Originals,” the pioneering members of the BALC during the last 3 years. The strides we made have been phenomenal, but there is still work to be done. This council is committed and passionate. Within their first week of service, they took immediate action to fund an additional student scholarship, bringing our total to nine students receiving scholarship funding for four years while attending UGA.

Please know that we can’t do this great work alone. Your help is critical to continuing the legacy. We need your gifts, your time, and your talent. We look forward to having you join us in our goal to keep the Arch open. Charlayne, Hamilton, and Mary would expect no less of us.

Go Dawgs,

Ericka

ABC’s Deborah Roberts pledges $100K to UGA

Deborah Roberts

ABC’s Deborah Roberts pledges $100K to UGA for scholarship

Award-winning correspondent and University of Georgia alumna Deborah Roberts has committed $100,000, matched by the UGA Foundation, to establish a need-based scholarship through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program.

“We are thrilled that such a distinguished alumna has committed to supporting need-based aid at UGA,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Her generosity is an example of the tremendous alumni support that continues to move our university into the future. Deborah’s gift will open the door to higher education for students today, tomorrow and in perpetuity.”

Roberts has risen through the ranks of television news, received numerous awards and been a regular reporter and contributor for programs such as “Dateline NBC,” “20/20,” “Nightline” and “Good Morning America” to name a few.

“I feel honored, privileged and, indeed, blessed to be able to offer a student who’s dreaming of success the opportunity to make those dreams come true,” said Roberts. “Growing up in small-town Georgia, I know the value of education and embrace this opportunity to change lives and futures.”

Roberts’ scholarship will provide aid to graduates of Perry High School, which she attended, as well as other high schools in middle Georgia.

Through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program, the UGA Foundation matches—dollar for dollar—any gift in the amount of $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000 to establish an endowed, need-based scholarship for undergraduate students. The scholarship is awarded within a year of the donor making their gift, and from that point forward, the endowment grows—increasing the size of the scholarship award over time and helping student after student earn a UGA degree.

Since the matching program’s creation in 2017, over $54 million has been dedicated to new need-based scholarships, with over 265 donors giving to the program. Scholarship recipients also benefit from academic support in the form of tutoring, workshops, academic coaching and more.

Born in Perry, Georgia, Roberts began her post-UGA career at WTVM-TV in Columbus, Georgia, and her connection to the university has remained through her many positions since then. In 1993, she received the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication’s John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award, presented annually to high-achieving young alumni.

In 2006, Roberts delivered UGA’s Holmes-Hunter lecture, and in 2016 she presented an Alumni Seminar. Earlier this year, she participated in a panel discussion entitled “Grady Greats: A Conversation on the Enduring Values and Power of Journalism.” She will deliver UGA’s spring undergraduate Commencement address on May 10.

As a major component of the Commit to Georgia Campaign’s effort to remove barriers for students, the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program has been a critical element of UGA’s fundraising success over the past two years. To find out how you can contribute to that success, visit give.uga.edu/georgia-commitment.

Father, daughter share in graduation celebrations

Jacksons

Jenna Jackson has a law degree from UGA. Her father John Jackson has a business degree from UGA. (Photo by Chad Osburn/UGA)

Originally posted on UGA Today on May 2, 2019. Written by Sara Freeland.

When John W. Jackson gives the address at Terry College of Business Convocation May 10, it will be an event almost 50 years in the making.

Jackson first stepped onto campus in 1972. He was one of the first 10 African Americans to play football for the University of Georgia. He walked on to the football team as a free safety the year after the team was desegregated (in 1971) when UGA was a different place.

The same day he is giving his convocation speech, Jackson’s daughter, Jenna Jackson, will be graduating with a Master of Public Administration and Policy in the Graduate Commencement ceremony.

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for people like my dad,” Jenna Jackson said. “There’s no me getting a degree if there’s no John Jackson in the ’70s who will brave hostile conditions.”

John Jackson

John Jackson, front row, third from left, played J.V. football for UGA in 1972. (Photo from 1973 Pandora)

1972-1976

John Jackson was one of around 600 African American students who earned UGA degrees between 1972 and 1976. “I had an incredible learning experience,” he said. “There were so many acts of kindness from professors.”

When there was a fire in his residence hall, Payne Hall, and his books were water damaged, one of his professors offered up his own book for Jackson to use to study.

“The environment at Georgia was very encouraging to me. More people wanted me to succeed than fail,” he said. “The problems I had at Georgia were so insignificant I discarded them. It prepared me for life after college—the barriers you had to overcome, that you had to be prepared. I left Georgia ready to compete in the corporate world.”

Why UGA?

John Jackson, who graduated from UGA with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1976, was the youngest of eight children. His father had a sixth-grade education and worked in the mailroom of a prominent Atlanta law firm staffed by many UGA-educated attorneys. His father saw the value of an education and encouraged his children to attend college.

“When you’re growing up, parents want you to be the very best that you can. They want you to be far better than them,” he said. “The best way to do that was to become educated.”

Two of John Jackson’s older brothers attended Morris Brown College, and Jackson was the first to attend the University of Georgia.

After his first year of college, his father encouraged him to give up football in order to more fully focus on his education. He even received a scholarship from his father’s law firm.

For extra spending money, Jackson worked the morning shift at McDonald’s. He’d come in at 4 a.m. and then go to his 8 a.m. business policy class with William Tate, now namesake of UGA’s Tate Student Center. Tate was a notoriously tough professor who took an interest in Jackson. He remembers Tate asking him, “Have you thought about going to banking? I would give you a recommendation.”

John Jackson went on to raise $60 million to co-found Bank of Atlanta. It’s the accomplishment he’s most proud of—founding the bank and keeping it profitable during the Great Recession.

Second-generation Bulldog

Jenna Jackson attended law school at UGA not because of her father’s influence, but partly because of her mom. She was looking at area law schools and wanted to stay close enough to check on her mother, who was battling breast cancer in Atlanta. She went on to work in football recruitment for UGA during and after law school and was named Miss UGA in 2013. In 2015, she was named Miss Georgia, but said Miss UGA was her favorite title.

Jenna Jackson

Jenna Jackson at the School of Law. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

“I got to see how the University of Georgia makes positive changes for all different types of people,” she said.

Jenna Jackson was also the third black Miss UGA. She said that like her father before her, there was some pressure that came with the role.“He was very quietly in the background,” she said.

“He had been through it. He was under immense pressure. You have to be twice as good to go half as far—he taught me that so subtly that it wasn’t a burden.”

Now, she’s finishing her second UGA degree—this time from the School of Public and International Affairs. “I really want to help people be the best version of themselves, and I thought the Master of Public Administration would help me to do that.

“It’s an honor to be graduating the same day he speaks. To hear him, to see him,” she said. “I understand the sacrifice he made for his family.”

Convocation speech

Jackson has spent more than 30 years working in banking, including 15 years at Bank South. At SunTrust, he had an $800 million loan portfolio. He co-founded Bank of Atlanta in 2004, which was acquired for $3 billion by State Bank and Trust in 2014. He currently serves on the UGA Terry College of Business’ Dean’s Advisory Council.

He also started the Emerson W. Jackson Scholarship Foundation to honor his father. He’s given out 10 or 11 small grants to students who embrace some of his father’s core values of respect, integrity and kindness.

When he received the offer to be the Terry Convocationn speaker, the timing was right.

“Sometimes you wonder if you’ve made a difference,” he said. “My name is not widely known outside the banking arena. But it reenergized me, reaffirmed that what I was doing was right, that I was making difference.”

Meet Shontel Solomon, Outreach Chair of the Black Alumni Leadership Council

In October 2015, the UGA Alumni Association launched the UGA Black Alumni Affinity Group, which is led by the Black Alumni Leadership Council. The council seeks to connect with black alumni and students through shared experiences, and to continue building a welcoming and supporting campus community. Shontel Solomon (BS ’10) is outreach chair of the Black Alumni Leadership Council, and we recently interviewed her to learn more about her UGA experience and what drives her to stay connected to the university.

Shontel SolomonWhen did you graduate from UGA and what did you do after graduation?

I graduated from UGA in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology. I knew that I wanted to become a therapist, so I ended up attending Valdosta State University for 3 years in their American family therapy program. I received my Master of Science in marriage and family therapy from there and went on to become a licensed MFT. I am currently working as the Clinical Supervisor at the Walk of Life Counseling Center, LLC with a fellow UGA alumnus, Damaris Solomon Johnson (BS ’08).

How did you get involved with the UGA Alumni Association?

I had been working with the Black Alumni Affinity Group before they were official in 2015. In 2014, I helped with homecoming.  We wanted homecoming to be a staple. We wanted it to be something where black alumni could really feel connected to UGA. We wanted students to see the alumni and be like, “They look like me, and we can connect that way to the university.” Ambré Reed (BSFCS ’09) another member of the Black Alumni Leadership Council, helped me get involved and get connected with the Black Alumni Affinity Group.

What excites you the most about serving on the Black Alumni Leadership Council?

Everything about it excites me. I get to connect with alumni. There are thousands of UGA graduates around the United States. Homecoming is my favorite event, and I look forward to it every year. I’m on the Black Alumni Retention and Engagement Committee, which hosts the homecoming every year. I get so excited to see alumni come back, support and link up with their friends. You get to see the “old school” people coming back, sororities, fraternities and everyone gets to see each other. It’s that ultimate black experience. It’s such a beautiful thing to see at the University of Georgia. The Black Alumni Leadership Council has such a great vision for the black alumni council. We are a minority at this institution, but our alumni need to be highlighted.  It just excites me every year to be more involved and help create more events that our black alumni can participate in.

What was the most important experience you had as a student?

Being part of Pamoja Dance Company my freshman year really helped connect me with other black students. I was one of the only black students from my high school to attend UGA in my class. Pamoja not only helped me get connect with other students, but black students in particular. That was a really important experience for me because I was able to speak with them [other black students], get connected with them, foster relationships with different people, join black organizations on campus and just network with people like me who were interested in doing what I wanted to do. It was helpful for me to feel connected and make friends. It helped me join organizations such as Black Affairs Council, NCNW and the NAACP.

Black Alumni Leadership Council

What is your favorite thing to do when you visit Athens?

When I come with my friends for Homecoming, we enjoy moments that remind of when we were students. We really love to go eat and have a great time. Last year, we went to Choo Choo just to have some nostalgia. Another time we went to Kelly’s on Lumpkin Street. We also go downtown to the bars. Those nostalgic moments remind us of the great times that we had at UGA.

What advice would you give to a current student?

Join the amazing organizations on campus. Whatever your niche is, you should join and do something to give back, get connected and network. I think too many people assume that you only network to get a job, but that’s not true. You can network with your peers on campus and get to know them. It helps you feel like you’re not by yourself. There are people out there who want to help you, but to do that you have to have some type of hub in the form of those organizations. But, don’t overdo it because you are still a student. Joining organizations is part of the experience of college, and it’s a resume builder.

Finish this statement. I am most proud to be a Bulldog when_______?

I am most proud to be a Bulldog when I can help students or a fellow alumni get connected to the institution, help them to launch their careers or be a mentor to them. I love helping them to feel proud of being a student at UGA and encouraging them to remain involved with the institution after graduation.

Have you heard about the 1961 Club?

The 1961 Club is a giving society for donors who support the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund. The 1961 Club was created to engage more than 14,000 living African-American alumni from UGA. The name of the society comes from the year when Hamilton E. Holmes (AB ’63) and Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63) arrived on campus. Click here to learn more.

Groundbreaking broadcaster Monica Kaufman Pearson delivers 2019 Holmes-Hunter Lecture

Monica Kaufman Pearson

Monica Kaufman Pearson delivers the 2019 Holmes-Hunter Lecture in the Chapel. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

The UGA Chapel was filled with joy, anger, sadness, and, ultimately, hope when the University of Georgia welcomed back alumna Monica Kaufman Pearson (MA ’14) to deliver the annual Holmes-Hunter Signature Lecture on Thursday, Feb. 7.

Named for Dr. Hamilton Holmes (BS ’63) and Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63), UGA’s first African-American students, the lecture series began in 1985 and, each year, invites a distinguished scholar or public figure to speak on race relations, aspects of higher education with implications for race relations and black history.

“We recognize that our collective backgrounds and experiences unite us and they enrich the living and learning environment for our students and for the entire campus community,” said Arthur Tripp, Assistant to the President, introducing Pearson.

“It is our goal to continue to foster a vibrant exchange of ideas by bringing speakers to campus who champion a diversity of thought, ideas and who challenge us to think critically about the pressing issues of the day.”

Pearson’s illustrious career includes being Atlanta’s first woman and first minority to anchor daily news programs. Her reporting has garnered over 30 local and regional Emmys, her long-running “Close-Ups” series has profiled national celebrities and world leaders and she was named a UGA Distinguished Alumni last year, having graduated magna cum laude following her retirement in 2012.

Pearson opened the lecture with several bars of an old spiritual song, then laid bare the history of black oppression in no uncertain terms—a history that stretches into the present day.

“The seed planted was slavery, fertilized by the Civil War, watered during Reconstruction with Jim Crow laws, then pruned and reshaped after the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Pearson. “And then finally, with the election of the first black president in 2008, some claimed the roots of racism were uprooted and destroyed. That was a lie.”

Monica Kauffman Pearson with Mary Frances Early

Monica Kaufman Pearson (center) speaks with Mary Frances Early prior to the lecture (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

Pearson documented abuse after abuse, asking “how do the roots of racism continue to grow like kudzu and how do we change that?” At the heart of her solution was action rooted in honesty.

“We must educate people, awaken their sensibilities,” said Pearson. “Speak up, ladies and gentlemen, when you see racism and when you hear racist conversations and you hear horrible jokes from your coworkers, your family and your friends. Speak up.”

Pearson noted that although conversations around race can be uncomfortable, they are necessary. Those in positions of power must examine their prejudices, Pearson said, and those who have been victim to oppression can’t let their ambitions suffer as a result.

“Don’t be afraid to be the first person in your family to do anything,” said Pearson. “Don’t be afraid of being the best you can be. Don’t let other people define you. You define you. Build up your self-esteem. Be the first in your family to go to college, to get a master’s degree, to get a doctorate. Become the first woman president of the University of Georgia.”

Pearson closed with a message of hope, quoting from remarks made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and positing that prosperity for all relies on intersection, cooperation and communication.

Honored guests at the event included family members of the late Dr. Holmes, UGA’s first African-American graduate, Mary Frances Early, and students from Athens-area and metro Atlanta middle and high schools.

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The hope in Pearson’s message lives at the heart of the Holmes-Hunter Lecture and was the driving force in the creation of the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund. Give today to honor the memory of trailblazers like Early, Holmes, Hunter-Gault and Pearson by opening doors for tomorrow’s scholars.

Holmes and Hunter-Gault: They followed their dreams

Original article posted on Feb. 4, 2019 by Krista Richmond on UGA Today.

This story is part of a series, called Georgia Groundbreakers, that celebrates innovative and visionary faculty, students, alumni and leaders throughout the history of the University of Georgia—and their profound, enduring impact on our state, our nation and the world.

Hamilton Holmes simply wanted to become a doctor. Charlayne Hunter simply wanted to become a journalist. And in doing so, they also became inspirations.

Both agreed that the University of Georgia had the classes they needed to reach those goals. But when they graduated from Henry McNeal Turner High School in Atlanta in 1959—Holmes as valedictorian and Hunter (now Hunter-Gault) as third in their class—it wasn’t quite that simple.

“Pursue your dreams—whatever it takes. Don’t give up despite what might be in your way,” Hunter-Gault said in a recent interview. “It was our determination—mine and Hamilton’s—to follow our dreams at the place that was best suited to help us fulfill them.”

Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes walk up Broad Street in Athens on Jan. 9, 1961, to enter the UGA campus to become the first African Americans to attend the university.

Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes walk up Broad Street in Athens on Jan. 9, 1961, to enter the UGA campus to become the first African Americans to attend the university.

Eventually Hunter and Holmes became the first African American students to attend UGA, but that is just the beginning of their stories. Both went on to have a lasting impact in their chosen career fields and on generations of students.

Their latest legacy: a new endowment, launched by Hunter-Gault and her husband, that inspires UGA students to pursue a more just society.

Desegregating UGA

Both Hunter and Holmes applied to UGA for the fall 1959 quarter but were denied. Holmes was accepted to Morehouse College, and Hunter enrolled at Wayne State University in Detroit, but they continued to submit applications to UGA each quarter.

“You can’t ever take your eyes off the prizes of freedom, justice and equality,” she said.

In September 1960, their legal team filed for an injunction seeking to prohibit UGA from “refusing to consider [Holmes’ and Hunter’s] applications and those of other Negro residents of Georgia for admission to the University.” Their request was refused, but a full trial was later held in Athens in December 1960.

On Jan. 6, 1961, Judge William Bootle issued his ruling, stating that Holmes and Hunter “would have already been admitted had it not been for their race and color,” and they were immediately admitted to UGA. Three days later, they became the first African American students to enroll in classes.

Creating a legacy

Their first steps into the Academic Building left a lasting footprint on the UGA landscape.

That same building now bears their names. It was renamed the Holmes-Hunter Academic Building in their honor to mark the 40th anniversary of UGA’s desegregation. And as part of UGA’s bicentennial in 1985, the university created the annual Holmes-Hunter Lecture, which is sponsored by the Office of the President and focuses on race relations, civil rights and education.

Their influence was felt early on during their time in Athens. Mary Frances Early, a fellow Turner High alumna who knew both Holmes and Hunter, was so inspired by what she saw that she decided to transfer from the University of Michigan to UGA to help them integrate the university. In August 1962, Early became the first African American to graduate from UGA.

A year later, it was their turn to walk across the stage.

Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter after they received their diplomas from UGA.

Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter after they received their diplomas from UGA.

“He opened the doors not only for African Americans to attend UGA, but also for everyone who wanted to attend,” said Holmes’ son, Hamilton Holmes Jr., who graduated from UGA in 1990. “My father was an excellent student and graduated cum laude while dealing with all of the distractions related to being one of the first two black students to integrate the university. He wasn’t looking for fame. He simply wanted to get the best public education from the flagship university in Georgia.”

In the fall of 1963, Holmes became the first African American student admitted to the Emory University School of Medicine. After starting a residency at Detroit General Hospital and serving in the military, he returned to Emory to complete his residency. Later, he became an assistant professor of orthopedics and served as an associate dean at Emory.

In addition, Holmes also worked as chief of orthopedics at the Veterans Administration hospital in Atlanta, opened a private practice and became medical director and eventually head of orthopedic surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Holmes passed away at his home in Atlanta on Oct. 26, 1995.

As Holmes Jr. pointed out, the path toward their degrees wasn’t always smooth.

On Jan. 11, 1961, two days after they registered for classes, a crowd gathered outside Hunter’s dorm after a basketball game, smashing windows with bottles and bricks. Holmes and Hunter were suspended, and the Georgia State Patrol escorted them back to their homes in Atlanta that night. A new court order was issued, and they returned to campus and resumed their classes.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault in her office at the PBS “MacNeil/Lehrer Report” in 1983.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault in her office at the PBS “MacNeil/Lehrer Report” in 1983.

After Hunter’s graduation in 1963, she took a job as an editorial assistant at The New Yorker, where she eventually became the first African American staff writer. She then worked as a television reporter and evening anchor for the local NBC station in Washington, D.C. She returned to print media in 1968, establishing The New York Times’ Harlem bureau. From 1978 until 1997, she worked for the MacNeil/Lehrer Report, which became PBS NewsHour. In 1997, she became chief correspondent in Africa for National Public Radio. She left NPR in 1999 to join CNN, where she served as bureau chief and correspondent, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, until 2005.

During her career, Hunter received numerous awards, including two National News and Documentary Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards.

“The view of the world that I developed and refined as a student at UGA helped me become a successful journalist and person,” Hunter-Gault said.

But for both Holmes and Hunter, their legacies go far beyond their time at UGA and their distinguished careers.

“I’m calling for a coalition of generations so that the things that were important achievements in my generation are looked at so that they can be built upon in the next generation,” Hunter-Gault said.

Giving Voice to the Voiceless

At the 2018 Holmes-Hunter Lecture, Hunter-Gault passed the proverbial baton to the next generation.

“It’s truly time for every citizen, no matter your age, to get woke,” she told the crowd. “And that means helping keep our democracy safe, and it means doing the hard work of digging for good information with a variety of sources.”

She spoke about her time at UGA and what students today can learn from it.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault meets with students from Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central high schools outside of the Chapel before delivering the Holmes-Hunter Lecture in February 2018. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Alumna Charlayne Hunter-Gault meaning with a group of local high school students from Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central High School outside of the Chapel before delivering the Holmes-Hunter Lecture.

“I want to share a little of my life with you today in the hope that you will be inspired, or further inspired, to make sure that your armor is fitted and polished so that you can help bind wounds and defeat the kind of divisions that are tearing at the fabric of our nation,” she said to those in attendance, including members of Holmes’ family.

To that end, she and her husband, Ronald Gault, started the Giving Voice to the Voiceless endowment, which provides grants to university students to promote social justice and global understanding.

“I wanted to do something that would help inspire young people,” she said.

The first grant recipients were announced recently, and their projects reflect Hunter-Gault’s legacy of courage, bravery and fearlessness.

Abha Rai, a doctoral candidate in the School of Social Work, received a grant to study domestic violence within South Asian immigrant communities.

“I want to be that voice for my community. I want to understand domestic violence and maybe even someday help end domestic violence,” she said. “This project is the perfect opportunity for my own voice to be heard in an area of research where people are understudied and not much is known about them.”

Steve Armour, an archivist with the University Libraries, received a grant to create an oral history with African American alumni who attended the university in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The interviewer for the project will be a student who will conduct background research on what that time was like at UGA in order to develop the right questions.

“These are students who attended UGA in the years following the desegregation of the university,” Armour said. “We often hear about the experience of Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes, but there are generations of students who followed them that this project is going to focus on.”

For Armour, it’s about continuing the conversation.

“They [Holmes and Hunter-Gault] reached these amazing heights that I think in turn have inspired subsequent generations,” he said.

Kyla Brinkley, who graduated with degrees in public relations and English in May 2018, continues to feel Hunter-Gault’s impact.

“Charlayne Hunter-Gault is a prime example of black excellence and what you can do to have an impact on people around you,” she said. “The fact that she still chooses to give back to students at UGA and continues to fuel minority students to pursue the things that she was able to pursue is really powerful.”

Brinkley was the first Charlayne Hunter-Gault Intern for Chess and Community, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth.

For their part, this generation of students and alumni have been an inspiration to Hunter-Gault.

“They are the giants, now, on whose shoulders the next generations will stand,” she said. “Even though they are quite young, they’ve demonstrated that they have a consciousness about the values in our democratic promise. Everywhere I look, I see them working to ensure that.”

Mary Frances Early honored with official UGA portrait

Original article posted on Oct. 11, 2018 by Heather Skyler on UGA Today.

The University of Georgia celebrated the life and achievements of Mary Frances Early the first African American to earn a degree from the University of Georgia, by unveiling her portrait in the Administration Building at a ceremony on Oct. 10.

The portrait, by artist Richard Wilson, was installed in The Gordon Jones Gallery of the Administration Building to honor Early, who went on to become the director of music for Atlanta Public Schools and the first African American president of the Georgia Music Educators Association in 1981.

“Ms. Early is a distinguished educator, and it is clear that she has made a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals,” President Jere W. Morehead said at the ceremony. “Her portrait will serve as a lasting tribute to her dignified courage and her commitment to educational excellence.”

Ms. Early saw the finished portrait for the first time at the ceremony, and she was obviously pleased. “It’s very beautifully done as you can see, because it looks better than me,” she said, drawing appreciative laughter from the audience. “It always means so much to have the support of so many.

The installation of Early’s portrait is part of a series of accolades celebrating her life and career. In January 2018, Early received one of UGA’s highest honors, the President’s Medal. On Sept. 11, the documentary “Mary Frances Early: The Quiet Trailblazer”premiered in Atlanta.

A native of Atlanta, Early came to UGA in the summer of 1961. Earlier that year, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes became the first African American students to enroll at UGA. Early had started postgraduate work at the University of Michigan when she transferred to UGA to complete her studies. She became the first African American to earn a degree from the University of Georgia when she graduated on Aug. 16, 1962, with a master’s degree in music education. She returned in 1964 to continue her education, earning a Specialist in Education degree in 1967.

Early, who was class valedictorian at Henry McNeal Turner High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Clark Atlanta University in 1957, became a music teacher in the Atlanta Public Schools and was eventually promoted to music director of the entire school system. Early worked with teachers in the system’s 100-plus schools, and was in charge of the music curriculum, budget, textbooks and more.

Early retired in 1994 after working for 37 years in public schools. She has since taught at Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University as head of the music department.

10 questions with filmmaker Malena Cunningham Anderson (ABJ ’80)

This post was contributed by Bridgette Burton (AB ’11, ABJ ’11, MPA ’17), marketing & communications chair, Black Alumni Leadership Council.

Where are you from? Born in Laurens, S.C., but grew up in Gray Court, S.C.

What made you decide to come to school at the University of Georgia? I followed my father, Odell Cunningham (BBA ’72), who was an older student when he graduated from UGA in 1972.

Anderson on her high school graduation day with her father who is also a Georgia alumnus

What was your major? Journalism with an emphasis on public relations

What was your most memorable college experience? There are many but pledging Zeta Psi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority was the best!

Where do you live now? Atlanta

Where do you work and what do you do? I founded my own production company Newslady Productions last year. I’ve reinvented myself utilizing my journalism skills, and I’m a documentary filmmaker. My first film, “Little Music Manchild: The Malik Kofi Story” won Best Documentary at the BronzeLens Film Festival in 2017.

However, I spent 23 years working in television news as a reporter and anchor. I started my career working behind the scenes at CNN; I worked as a reporter in Lexington, Kentucky, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Savannah. I also worked in Birmingham, where I won two Emmy Awards for reporting and was part of the six o’clock news team that won an Emmy for Best Newscast. In 2004, I left TV News and founded Strategic Media Relations, a media consulting firm that I ran until 2014.

What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates? Don’t just search for a job. Instead, look for opportunities to learn and grow in your career so that you can be an owner or employer. We need more African American students to recognize the power in being the person who writes the checks, not just someone who waits to get a check.

Anderson with fellow award-winning journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault

What is the most important lesson you learned in college? I learned that it’s important to network and get involved in campus organizations. This helps prepare you to work and collaborate with others. The more you get to know people on campus, and the more they know you, the more they can serve as connections when you begin your career.

Malena (second from left) with friends on graduation day.

What do you know for sure? What I know for sure is that no one will ever ask ‘What was your GPA?’ Grades matter, but being a reliable, hardworking professional, who also makes a difference and goes the extra mile on the job and in the community is more impactful.

Is there anything else that you would like for people to know? I’m extremely proud to be a second generation African American graduate of UGA. Go DAWGS!

Godfrey Powell takes hold of technology

This post was contributed by Bridgette Burton (ABJ ’11, AB ’11), marketing and communications chair for the Black Alumni Leadership Council.  

Atlanta native Godfrey O. Powell, Jr. (BBA ’00), who leads product strategy for media partnerships at Facebook, delivered a talk at the TEDxUGA event on March 22. Powell majored in finance and management information systems at Georgia, and prior to joining the team at Facebook, he worked in investment banking at JPMorgan Chase, held leadership positions at Samsung and launched a film studio at Marvel Enterprises. His talk, titled “Taking Hold of Our Technophobia,” was about the intersection of media and technology.

Powell spoke about grappling with excitement around new technology and the fear of not being able to control the rate at which we are receiving information. He examines public opinion around technologies of the past, like the printing press and the automobile, to contextualize our fear of and relationships with technologies today. He also offered tips about how Wakanda, the fictional country in Black Panther, can serve as a model for how Americans can use technology as a tool, rather than forming unhealthy dependencies on smartphones.  

We caught up with Powell and asked him a few questions about his favorite things about the University of Georgia.

What made you decide to come to school at the University of Georgia? 

I wanted a large state school with a combo of good brand name, strong academics, and great sports programs. The deciding factor was I got a full HOPE Scholarship.

What did you think you would be when you grew up? Do you still have plans to become that? 

I always loved the idea of being a businessman and entrepreneur growing up.  The specifics I never knew.  Due to the current state of tech, I am fascinated to be in it and feel a high degree of entrepreneurship. At a certain point in the future, I may explore starting my own business.

What did you learn from your TEDx experience? 

I loved, and was quite challenged by, the creating and delivering a TEDx Talk. The basics of this process are obvious but worth mentioning: getting the right topic that matches your credibility and educates the audience, structuring the talk and then being (hopefully) entertaining. UGA was quite impressive in the way they organized the event, making it a large community event, and providing tons of tools and institutional knowledge to guide me in crafting the talk. I know from talking to the other presenters they felt the same way.   

I spent the first six weeks ideating on what topic I wanted to speak on, and how it could resonate. Then, I spent the next three weeks writing an outline, getting feedback from the team and putting together visuals. Then, I spent the last three weeks writing out the full draft and in the process memorizing it. The last week, I practiced it six times a day and each day made slight tweaks. Along the way, I shared it with trusted friends and family for feedback, which was a critical step in mastering the tone of piece and making it my own. I finally felt good the day before after dress rehearsal and getting feedback from the TEDx Talk curator. 

What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates? 

Throughout my career I’ve used this same thesis: I pursue things that just seem interesting and unique to collect experiences. Each step, I thought about the potential for growth and learning. Am I joining an area that has industry growth? When you look at industry growth, it matters less the exact role, but just getting involved.  

 

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