Director, Institute for African American Studies
Associate Provost for Institutional Diversity
From the 50th anniversary celebration co-chairs
Co-chairing the committee responsible for orchestrating the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of the University of Georgia has been exciting, inspiring and challenging. Our goal from the outset has been to honor the incredible courage shown by Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter, who broke the color barrier when they enrolled for classes on January 9, 1961, as well as Mary Francis Early, who joined them that summer and became the first African American graduate of UGA when she earned her master’s degree in 1962. These three began the journey – one that continues today – to change this institution into a place where students’ dreams are nurtured and supported regardless of their race or ethnicity.
This anniversary is also about celebrating the courage of those who followed in their path and broke barriers of their own, and the courage of all those who supported them along the way. For Holmes and Hunter, that included not only their families, but also the legal team who fought the court battle to secure their admission. Additionally it included faculty members who came forward to sign a petition supporting their right to be at the university and a few fellow students who made efforts to reach out when most did not.
Just as these pioneers had help along the way, so have we in organizing the events marking this 50-year anniversary. We are indebted to the members of the planning committee and to the hard-working steering committee that included Tommy Altman, Sharron Hannon, Cynthia Hoke and Matt Winston. We also appreciate the efforts of staff in the Office of Public Affairs, particularly Mary Andrews, who designed the 50th anniversary logo and print materials, and Jan Beckley, Mark Spurlock and Tanya DiClemente, who constructed the 50th anniversary web site in record time. Additional thanks goes to staff in the Office of Institutional Diversity and the Institute for African American Studies and to Arthur Horne, dean of the College of Education; Ronald Cervero, COE’s associate dean of outreach and engagement, and Suzanne Hall for their support in helping us with the planning and execution of this celebration.
But what really makes this anniversary special is all the work being done by student organizations and units across campus to put together events that span a 50-day period beginning with our January 9 kickoff and continuing through the end of Black History Month on February 28. There is so much to see and do and we encourage all members of the university community – students, faculty, staff and alumni – to take part in this incredible celebration. The events listed on this web site are open to the public, so this invitation is also extended to the local community and anyone who wants to join us in marking this landmark anniversary for the University of Georgia.