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Shortly before their graduation in 1963, Trillin came back to Georgia to determine what their college lives had been like. He interviewed not only Holmes and Hunter but also their families, friends, and fellow students, professors, and university administrators. The result was this book--a sharply detailed portrait of how these two young people faced coldness, hostility, and occasional understanding on a southern campus in the midst of a great social change.
In retrospect, the success of Hamilton Homes as a leading physician and Charlayne Humter-Gault as a nationally known journalist makes the irrationality of the state's higher education segregation policy even more evident-these indeed would have been terrible minds to waste. Times do change; in 1990 this reviewer watched and listened as the distinguished Dr. Holmes delivered an eloquent commencement address to the graduates, white and black, of Clayton State College in suburban Atlanta.
Calvin Trillin, then a young reporter for Time magazine, covered the 1961 integration episode and conducted several follow-up interviews with the two yountg students who broke the color line. Trillin's work was serialized in the New Yorker in 1963 and published as a book the following year. Although written as journalism, An Education in Georgia still stands as good history three decades later. This new reprint should be read not only as a document of how far the South has come in race relations but also as a reminder that even a generation later, all too many remnants of racism and inequality still linger on campus and in society. Clayton State College Atlanta History Fall 92
Calvin Trillin was present in 1961 when Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes enrolled in Athens. Then reporting for Time, he covered the events and went on to other assignments. But he never left that one behind. As the two neared graduation, the reporter returned to write a history of their student experience.
"Student Heroes of a strange new kind," he observes early in his work, "they were famed for no achievements in athletics of scholarship but merely showing up to attend classes." However, with an eye for detail, an ear for conversation, and unflagging fairness to all, Trillin chronicles what those two endured and surely did achieve at Georgia.
Charlayne Hunter-Gault, now national correspondent for PBS's "MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour", penned the new foreword for An Education in Georgia, originally published in 1964. "Bud Trillin", she writes, "had told a story that captured a turning point in the history of the South. And he had told it through the people who had lived it, black and white, good, bad, and in between." Yes, this paperback reprint seems dated in some places, but to their day it remains a complete example of solid journalism. -Southern Living May 1992
If the two students had not come to such prominence, would the book have been re-published? Hopefully, yes. The issues covered serve as a reminder to readers in the '90's that only a scant 30 years separate us from the trying times of the 60's and the long continuing struggle for civil rights. Libn., Queen Anne School, Upper Marlboro, MD as seen in KLIATT June 1992
"The stereotypes are swept away, and Holmes and Miss Hunter emerge as people rather than as Heroes of the Cause. . . . We are left with an acutely perceptive approximation of what those 30 months at Athens, Georgia must have meant to the two who lived them and to those who came in their wake."--Hodding Carter III, Book Week
"[This book] comes closer to the essential social truths of the problem than do some works of greater scope. . . . Trillin brings to the task a greater knowledge of his subjects than most reporters. . . .This knowledge is reinforced by a keen eye, a sensitive ear and respect for fact."--New York Times Book Review