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Charlayne Hunter-Gault Keynote Address and Master Class Highlight UNC Asheville’s 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration

January 21

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UNC Asheville’s annual commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. will feature a keynote address by the award-winning journalist, author and civil rights pioneer Charlayne Hunter-Gault, free and open to everyone, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21, in the Highsmith Student Union Blue Ridge Room on campus. She also will lead a master class at 4 p.m. the same day, in Highsmith Room 228.

Master classes, workshops on social justice, documentary film, music, dance, and spoken word from blues-based poet Arthur Flowers will also be featured as part of the University commemoration of Dr. King.

Tuesday, Jan. 21 – Charlayne Hunter Gault – A veteran journalist who gained fame as longtime national and international correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, Charlayne Hunter-Gault has also reported for CNN, NPR, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. She is the author of four books, and a pioneer of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement who successfully challenged segregation in court, and was the first black woman to attend the University of Georgia. (a more complete bio follows below)

  • Master Class: Up Close and Personal: A Chat with Charlayne Hunter-Gault, moderated by UNC Asheville Assistant Professor of English Mildred Barya – 4 p.m., Highsmith Student Union Room 228.
  • Keynote Address: From Jim Crow America to Apartheid South Africa and Beyond – An Activist Journalist’s Journey – 7 p.m., Highsmith Student Union Blue Ridge Room.

Support for Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s visit to UNC Asheville comes from Biltmore Farms Hotels, Blue Ridge Public Radio, and Our State

Wednesday, Jan. 22 – Documentary Film on the History of Lynching in America

  • Always in SeasonThis 2019 film, produced and directed by Jacqueline Olive, won the Special Jury Prize for Moral Urgency at the Sundance Film Festival. Reporting on four American communities where descendants of victims and perpetrators are working together to heal, the film explores the lingering impact of more than a century of lynching African Americans and connects this form of historic racial terrorism to racial violence today – 7 p.m., Highsmith Student Union Grotto.

Thursday, Jan. 23 – Social Justice in Action Workshop

  • Why We March. How We March: The Culture of Organizing and Community Building – This workshop will be led by Cortina Caldwell, founder and creative director for Artists Designing Evolution, LLC (adé PROJECT) – 5:30 p.m., Highsmith Student Union Mountain Suites.

Tuesday, Jan. 28 – Master Class on the Intersection of the Arts and Global Citizenship

  • Shared Poetics Across Disciplines: Cultivating Global Citizenship – UNC Asheville faculty, staff and students from many different departments and programs will join for a conversation on the intersection of music, performance, creative writing, activism, civic engagement and global citizenship. Moderators will be Assistant Professor of Music Jonathan King, and Assistant Professor of English Mildred Barya – 1:20 p.m., Lipinsky Hall, Room 018.

Tuesday, Jan. 28 – Arthur Flowers – Memphis-born blues-based poet, novelist, essayist, and practitioner of literary hoodoo, Arthur Flowers is an associate professor of English at Syracuse University and is former director of the Harlem Writers Guild. His books include Another Good Loving Blues, Mojo Rising: Confessions of a 21st Century Conjureman, and Brer Rabbit Retold.

  • Literary Blues and the Hoodoo Way – In the Footsteps of MLK – This performance and lecture by Arthur Flowers will also feature opening music by UNC Asheville’s Afro Music and Dance Ensemble – 7 p.m., Highsmith Student Union Blue Ridge Room.

For more information, contact Cori Anderson, UNC Asheville associate director of cultural events and engaged citizenship, ceander2@unca.edu or 828.258.7727.

Visitor Parking on the UNC Asheville Campus – Visitors may park in faculty/staff and non-resident lots from 5:00 p.m. until 7:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, and on weekends, holidays, and campus breaks. Visitors are not permitted to park in resident student lots at any time.

Building accessibility information is available here.

Accessibility Contact: Highsmith Student Union, highsmithunion@unca.edu or 828.251.6990.


Charlayne Hunter-Gault is an award-winning journalist of national and international stature, the author of four books, and a pioneer of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement who successfully challenged segregation in court and gained entrance to the University of Georgia.

As a journalist, Hunter-Gault is best known for her 20 years with the PBS NewsHour as a national and international correspondent and anchor. She later became NPR’s Africa correspondent and then Johannesburg Bureau chief for Cable News Network. Hunter-Gault has won two Emmy awards and two Peabody awards—the first for her work on Apartheid’s People, a NewsHour series about South African life during apartheid; the second for her work in Africa for NPR.

She began her journalism career at The New Yorker, and then reported for The New York Times from 1968-1977, where she headed the Harlem bureau. She is credited with convincing the editors at that newspaper to stop referring to African Americans as Negroes.

Hunter-Gault’s most recent book, published online, is Corrective Rape, which details the devastating way some men in South Africa attempt to “correct” gay women’s sexual identity. She also is the author of New News Out of Africa: Uncovering the African Renaissance. Hunter-Gault continues to live in South Africa.

Her two books about life in the U.S. are, To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement, a historical narrative for high school students and In My Place, a memoir of the Civil Rights Movement, relating her experiences as the first black woman to attend the University of Georgia, in 1961.

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January 21


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