Life on Campus

Cartoon, “Jeepers, I don’t know if he’s the same as he use to be or not!” Clifford Baldowski, Atlanta Constitution, 1961 January 18

Cartoon, “Jeepers, I don’t know if he’s the same as he use to be or not!” Clifford Baldowski, Atlanta Constitution, January 18, 1961

Clifford H. (Baldy) Baldowski Editorial Cartoons, Russell Library

The Riot

On the evening of January 11, 1961, hundreds of students gathered outside Charlayne Hunter’s dormitory following the end of the Georgia v. Georgia Tech basketball game. A white sheet carried by a few participants read “Nigger, Go Home” and the crowd’s chants inlcuded “Two, four, six, eight, we don’t want to integrate.” The mob, a mixture of students and outsiders, threw rocks and bottles, breaking window panes throughout the building. Unable to subdue the crowd, university administrators called on local police, who deployed tear gas and fire hoses to disperse the group.

Article, “Georgia U Suspends Negroes After Rioting Sweeps Campus,” Milwaukee Journal, 1961 January 12

Article, “Georgia U Suspends Negroes After Rioting Sweeps Campus,” Milwaukee Journal, January 12, 1961

William Tate Desegregation Files, Hargrett Library

Letter, Joseph A. Williams, dean of students, to all students at the University of Georgia, 1961 January 14

Letter, Joseph A. Williams, dean of students, to all students at the University of Georgia, January 14, 1961

William Tate Desegregation Files, Hargrett Library

Suspension and Return to Campus

On January 12, 1961, the day after the riot, both Holmes and Hunter received notification from Joseph Williams, Dean of Students, that they were being withdrawn from the University of Georgia. State Police escorted the pair to their homes in Atlanta. On January 14, a federal court overruled the suspension and ordered the two students readmitted. Determined to prevent violence, university administrators pledged to expel any students who participated in further demonstrations.

Photograph, Charlayne Hunter being escorted from campus, 1961 January 11

Photograph, Charlayne Hunter being escorted from campus, January 11, 1961

Courtesy of Georgia State University Archives

Letter, from J.A. Williams, dean of students, to Hamilton Holmes, suspending Holmes from the University of Georgia, 1961 January 12

Letter, from J.A. Williams, dean of students, to Hamilton Holmes, suspending Holmes from the University of Georgia, January 12, 1961

Walter Danner Papers, Hargrett Library

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UGA Faculty patrol map, 1961 January

UGA Faculty patrol map, January, 1961

Walter Danner Papers, Hargrett Library

Signed by more than 300 members of the UGA faculty, this document condemned the actions of the rioters as well as the lack of action by state authorities to quell the violence on campus. It also insisted that the University reinstate Holmes and Hunter. Following the riot, faculty members organized nightly patrols of campus in an effort to keep the peace.

UGA Faculty petition, 1961 January

UGA Faculty petition, January 1961

Walter Danner Papers, Hargrett Library

Mary Frances Early

Photograph, Mary Frances Early, ca. 1964

Photograph, Mary Frances Early, ca. 1964

Mary Frances Early Papers, Russell Library

Arguably the most significant response to the riot was the enrollment of Mary Frances Early. Applying as a graduate student to the College of Education two days after the violent unrest, Early shared her rationale for transferring to UGA, saying, “I thought that since the undergraduate school was open, somebody should go to the graduate school, and when I saw a picture of Charlayne [the night of the riot]...I knew I had to go.” Early became the first Black graduate of the University of Georgia in 1962, earning her master’s degree in education.


In 2020, the University named the College of Education in her honor.

Life on Campus

Article, “Our First Days at the University of Georgia” by Charlayne Hunter, JET, 1961 February 9

Article, “Our First Days at the University of Georgia” by Charlayne Hunter, JET, February 9, 1961.

William Tate Desegregation Files, Hargrett Library

Hamilton Holmes came to UGA for the promise of a high-quality science education and research equipment that would prepare him for medical school. Holmes lived off campus with the Killians, a Black family at the forefront of local civil rights activism, and he focused on studying rather than socializing during his time in Athens. His induction into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society in 1963 honored his academic achievements.

After the riot, Charlayne Hunter continued to live on campus while pursuing her degree in journalism. Hunter used interviews with the media to practice her own journalism skills and joined the staff of the Red & Black, UGA’s student newspaper. She also joined the Newman Club, affiliated with the campus Catholic Center.

On June 1, 1963, Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter graduated from the University of Georgia.

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Article, "Charlayne Finds Friends at U. of GA," Atlanta Inquirer, 1961 January 21

Article, "Charlayne Finds Friends at U. of GA," Atlanta Inquirer, January 21, 1961.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault Papers, Russell Library

Phi Kappa Phi Certificate, inducting Hamilton Holmes into the honor society, 1963 February 14

Phi Kappa Phi Certificate, inducting Hamilton Holmes into the honor society, February 14, 1963.

Courtesy of the Holmes Family