In My Place

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

IN MY PLACE offers readers insight into the life of Charlayne Hunter-Gault, award-winning national correspondent for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Her book gives a personal view of the turmoil and rage resulting from the Supreme Court’s famous 1954 decision, rendered in Brown vs. the Board of Education, which ended school segregation. In 1961, Hunter-Gault and Hamilton (“Hamp”) Holmes became the first African Americans to enroll at and attend the University of Georgia.

The book’s early sections are an account of the tightly knit, strong family in which Hunter-Gault was raised. From her descriptions of her parents and grandparents, it is clear that her family taught her the inner strength and endurance she would need in order to withstand the brutally racist treatment she would face at the University of Georgia. It is inspiring to read about Hunter-Gault’s family and formative years, for hers was an upbringing in which the color of one’s skin mattered far less than individual intelligence and determination.

Much of IN MY PLACE is Hunter-Gault’s account of the personal and public events leading up to and surrounding her years at the University of Georgia. This book offers insight into the then-growing Civil Rights movement. Additionally, IN MY PLACE gives a moving account of the deeply painful individual sacrifices people such as Hunter-Gault and Holmes made so that African Americans could enjoy equal rights under the law. The book also offers us a chance to measure the social and political changes that have taken place since Hunter-Gault attended the University of Georgia, and it is especially valuable given events such as the Rodney King beating and subsequent riots in Los Angeles.