of the United States if all of those people going back generations had not fought for equality and justice.”
How much progress have we made in race relations since a young Charlayne Hunter fought through that angry mob of White students to get to class?
“We’ve made progress in the advancement of Black people to positions that they might never have been in before and wouldn’t have access to prior to the ’60s,” Hunter-Gault says. “But we still have challenges that revolve around race, that revolve around class, and that revolve around gender. It doesn’t serve us to say that we haven’t made any progress, because we have. But, there are new challenges out there and we need all hands on deck to meet those challenges.
“I think we should be encouraged by the progress that we’ve made in this country, yet when you look at the Gallup polls that show people’s reaction to race since the Obama election, Blacks are more pessimistic than anybody else about race,” she adds. “You have a rise in hate crimes, you’ve got airwaves that are populated with vicious, venomous racism that isn’t even muffled. You have a resurgence in the kind of things that can get very bad unless good people do the right thing. So that’s what I hope to see.”