ONE morning during my second week in Athens, I met Charlayne and Hamilton outside their philosophy class, which, as it happened, was the first course they had taken together since enrolling at Georgia. They were both reading the new issue of the Red and Black. Three letters from graduate students and instructors had been published in reply to the column calling Hamilton an alien, and all the letter-writers took sarcastic exception to the columnist’s complaints that Hamilton was merely a serious student and took no part in extracurricular activities. “Look at this one here,” Hamilton said. “I think this guy is our philosophy lecturer.” The last sentence of that letter said, “To be a Negro is bad enough, but to be an intelligent Negro is unpardonable.” Both Hamilton and Charlayne seemed greatly cheered by the letters.
The casualness with which they had applied for admission to a university that was likely to treat them as aliens—a casualness that still amazes Jesse Hill—was explained to me by Hamilton a few days later. “I guess being first, the novelty of it, had something to do with it,” Hamilton said. “But it was just something to do. If anybody had told me I would ever be here, I would have laughed. I didn’t have the slightest idea I would ever come down here. They hadn’t done anything like that in the South.” After all, Horace Ward, the first Negro to apply to Georgia, had spent years in court without ever seeing the Georgia campus. Although the University of Georgia had seemed like a tempting challenge to both Charlayne and Hamilton, not even Hamilton, who brought up the idea, had seriously believed that all the commotion would end up in their attendance there.
When they did consider the realities of being at Georgia, both had underestimated how long the unfriendliness would last. Neither had ever experienced constant hostility. Although Charlayne spent her early childhood in her mother’s home town of Covington, not far from Athens, she had often lived on or near an Army base, and had sometimes spent summers with relatives in New York. Hamilton had faced the limitations of a Negro in the South, it is true, but nowhere are those limitations better camouflaged than in the nearly self-sufficient Negro community of Atlanta—especially for an outstanding member of a prominent family. In Atlanta, Hamilton had indeed said hello to everybody he saw on the street, because almost everybody he saw on the street was a Negro who knew him. Both he and Charlayne had been remarkably successful at Turner High School, and at graduation they had had the optimism of seventeen-year-olds who had just conquered their world. Could any students fail to be charmed sooner or later by the engaging girl who had been named Miss Turner? Could people fail to respect Hamilton’s abilities as an athlete and a student? “I really thought it would be broken down after two and a half years,” Hamilton admitted. “It was nice to see those letters in the Red and Black, and several people came up to me in class about it. It was nice to see people speaking out. But it’s a little late. We’re about ready to leave.”
Charlayne had been even more optimistic than Hamilton. “I thought there would be a coolness for a couple of weeks,” she told me, “but I never thought it would last forever, and in some ways it has.” It amazed me to discover that the warnings that Charlayne and Hamilton had received from Carl Holman and Whitney Young as to what a Negro could expect at Georgia had failed to puncture their teen-age euphoria. Most of the other Negro students I had met in the South had been in sit-in movements; they had had a fierce consciousness of their role, and a knowledge that they would get no better treatment from whites than they demanded. Moreover, the report of Dr. Coles, the Boston psychiatrist, stressed the fact that the nine Negro teen-agers who integrated the Atlanta public schools in the fall of 1961—while they were relatively uninformed on other aspects of current affairs—had a detailed and graphic knowledge of race incidents; for example, they had a vivid recollection of watching the Little Rock mobs on television, even though they were only about eleven at the time.
But the burning interest in civil rights among Negro students, Charlayne told me, had started quite suddenly in February 1960, after the first sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina. She reminded me that there had been no previous indications of student unrest, and that students had certainly not always been in the forefront of the integration movement. Negro students in the South might have increasingly resented not being able to have a Coke in a place where they were spending their money for other goods, but before 1960 they showed no sign of believing they could do anything about the situation themselves. That was the period when Jesse Hill, looking for a breakthrough at Georgia State, could find no candidates of college age and had to confine himself to older people who might be able to go to the night school.
Charlayne and Hamilton were twelve when the Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional, fourteen when Autherine Lucy briefly attended the University of Alabama, fifteen when United States paratroopers were ordered into Little Rock. Charlayne said that when she and Hamilton first applied to Georgia in 1959—before the Greenboro sit-in—they had no strong recollection of those events. “What people don’t realize,” she went on, “is that the sit-ins happened all of a sudden and nobody talked about the problem before then. For instance, after we applied, people said, ‘Keep your mouth shut; that’s how they got Autherine Lucy.’ So I thought, Okay, I’ll keep my mouth shut and I won’t end up like Autherine Lucy. Negro kids in Atlanta don’t read the papers. Kids in Detroit were more interested in civil rights than we were; at least they talked about it more. I never thought much about a commitment to civil rights until the summer of 1960, when I got back from my freshman year at Wayne and all my buddies were going to jail. That’s when I started writing for the Inquirer. I wanted to go to jail too. I thought that what I was doing, even if it might be just as important eventually, was not active enough. But I told Wilma at the time, ‘Isn’t it funny that things like this never really mattered to us until now?’ Not one tenth of one per cent of those kids in the sit-ins gave a rap about the whole business before then.” Wilma Long, one of Charlayne’s closest friends in Atlanta, is the daughter of the high-school principal Mrs. Washington had mentioned—the man who occasionally had to leave school during the sit-ins to bail his daughters out of jail.
“For that brief period of time, I got interested in the Cause,” Charlayne said. “But now I’m fed up with causes. I’m not here for any cause. I can’t even say it’s my contribution, as some people say. I’m just here because I’m here. It was an interesting thing to do, and, after Wayne, I figured I’d started it so I’d finish it. Maybe it would have been better if Hamp and I had just come to Georgia cold instead of going somewhere else first. We wouldn’t have known what we were missing. But this way I guess we got a little bit of college life we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
There was little evidence that Charlayne was really fed up with the Cause. She had continued to write articles for the Inquirer, often on such subjects as overcrowded conditions in segregated schools; she had met with Negro high-school students in Atlanta to encourage them to apply for transfers to white schools; and she often expressed her admiration of what was being done by people like Constance Motley. But she was fed up with talking about the Cause, or being considered its personification. She disliked conversations that dwelt on her role as one of the first Negroes at Georgia, and anybody who offered her advice on how one of the first Negroes should act or presented her with a careful plan for desegregating a university facility was almost certain of being put down in her book as a “goody-goody.”
By the start of her last quarter at Georgia, Charlayne’s closest friend on the faculty was Joseph Schwarz, a young art professor who, the day after the riot, had been one of the organizers of the faculty resolution that called for the reinstatement of Charlayne and Hamilton. “Out of all the people who prepared that resolution, Joe Schwarz was the only one who didn’t have tenure,” she said. “That took a lot of guts. But he didn’t make a big thing out of it. Some of these people have been living on that resolution ever since they passed it. But he just did it. He doesn’t talk about it as if he were a hero.” Schwarz and Charlayne, both perhaps wary of being a goody-goody, did not come to know each other until Charlayne had been at Georgia for a year and a half. Then one of her friends, a graduate art student who had been in the Students for Constructive Action, told Charlayne that Schwarz would like to do her portrait, and eventually they met. “We had more fun the first day I sat,” Charlayne said. “We both felt we had to talk about the Issue, but we just wanted to get it out of the way, so we could talk about other things. And I didn’t mind talking about it. He told me a lot of things I hadn’t known about how the professors got up the resolution and everything, and he didn’t make a big thing out of it. It’s funny. My mother had kept mentioning this gray-haired lady who was at the trial and was so nice and had said she was a professor’s wife. And I didn’t find out until last month, when I went over there for dinner, that the lady was Mrs. Schwarz, who is prematurely gray.”
Although many of Charlayne’s friends were active at Westminster House, she was not attracted by the race-relations discussions that were held there during her first year by the Reverend Hardin W. (Corky) King. “Everybody over there talked as if everything was all good or all bad,” she said. “They kept making statements that started with ‘you people.’ There is a lot of Cause talk that I don’t believe in, and I just never felt I could be a human being over there. I told them I get tired of causes, and they were shocked. They always have to have these elaborate plans of attack; nothing is dramatic enough otherwise. I didn’t figure I was adding much to the discussion and I felt much better when I left. As long as people make you out to be a perfect person, it’s hard to be a perfect person. Our being here is a great thing; it must be. But some things about it aren’t great, and it’s silly to pretend they are.”
Charlayne’s experience with the Newman Club, the campus Catholic organization, was also unsatisfactory. “It was kind of phony,” she said. “Well, not phony, but there was nothing for me to do. For one thing, a lot of people were there to find a girl friend or a boy friend, and they kind of paired off. I danced with white boys a couple of times at parties, and it wasn’t exactly a hit. They were going to have another party, and it was at a private club, and there was talk about whether I would want to go. I wasn’t going to go, and cause them any trouble, but I do think they could have had the party someplace where I could go. Then, the first fall, there was this boy from New York who was running for secretary—one of the food-technology boys—and he asked would I be his campaign manager. I asked the priest did he think I would hurt the boy’s chances, and he said no, so I did it. I spoke more on the principles of Newmanism than on the boy’s qualifications, because he didn’t really have any. But anyway, he won. I’d told him I would have to meet with him before the speech, to learn something about him, so he said, ‘Let’s meet in the dining hall for dinner.’ He started eating dinner with me every night; I would come in about six o’clock and he would come over to my table. One day my adviser in the dean’s office called me and said she’d heard I was dating a white boy and she didn’t think it was a good idea. I told her I wasn’t dating any white boys, but he stopped having dinner with me anyway. I think he was under a lot of pressure—threats and things. I got the impression he’d been looking for trouble. For instance, he would make smart remarks to the other boys as we left the dining hall. He left a note in my car one day apologizing for not being able to see me any more. I saw him later and told him I thought the note was childish. Maybe that wasn’t fair; I couldn’t really blame him. But I just don’t have any sympathy for people who ask for trouble and then can’t take it.”
Charlayne, unlike Hamilton, had a few white friends at Georgia from the beginning. Mostly journalism or graduate students, some of them were from Atlanta or the North, but some of them were from rural Georgia. By and large, they were students who were not greatly concerned with the social pressure exerted by fraternities and sororities. The more overt forms of pressure, such as the threats received by her friend in the Newman Club, were not common, especially after the first year or so. None of Charlayne’s friends hesitated to have lunch with her on the campus or go with her to a university play, and the fact that Charlayne and a white boy often ate lunch together and rode around the campus together late in her senior year caused no serious commotion among the students. “It’s hard to tell whether they’re just more used to it or there’s a degree of acceptance,” one of Charlayne’s friends, Joan Zitzelman, told me. “People are a little more polite this year, maybe. Maybe fewer remarks are made. I think more people are willing to know her on a personal basis. Last year, she was still the Negro Student. And I think people who associate with her do not have as much to lose as they did last year. But it’s really hard to tell.” Many of Charlayne’s friends were students who, like Joan Zitzelman, had belonged to the Students for Constructive Action, were active in Westminster House, and had been friendly from the start. Although some well-connected fraternity and sorority people were perfectly civil to Charlayne in class and on the campus, most of the people who ate lunch with her or rode around Athens with her or visited her in Atlanta were, in the words of one professor, “not the people in the mainstream.”
Since the number of places where Charlayne and her friends could go together was limited, they often ended up in the coffee shop of the Continuing Education Center. “Sometimes we just ride around and around because there’s no place to stop,” Charlayne told me. “The social scene is bad. I always have somebody to eat with and talk to, but there are limits. The times I feel most like an ‘alien’ is when they have a journalism conference at C.E. and afterwards the journalism students break up and go to parties and I can’t go. It’s not as if I were an agriculture student; I’m a journalism student. Maybe Hamp’s way is better. He just doesn’t get involved. It’s more frustrating for me, in a way. I get so involved that sometimes I get to thinking I’m human.”
Tommy Johnson, the business manager Charlayne had worked for, briefly, on the Red and Black, was one of the few students in the Journalism School who qualified as a big man on campus, having been the secretary-treasurer of both his junior and his senior class, the president of Sigma Nu, one of the leading fraternities, the commander of the University’s R.O.T.C. battalion, and a member of all the most desirable honor societies. A tall, crew-cut boy from Macon, Johnson was at Georgia on a scholarship from his home-town paper, and I had first met him in the early days of integration, when he was helping the Macon News reporter cover the story. Since he seemed to be in a good position to assess student opinion—which, I realized, was probably a product of the minority at Georgia—I stopped in at his office at the Red and Black one evening to ask him whether the column calling Hamilton an alien was typical of what most students thought.
“I guess it is,” Johnson said. “The students have accepted the fact that the two of them are here—at least they’re not opposing it by physical means—but they’re not one of the group. I don’t think they’ll ever be accepted in the social ring. At every Southern university, there will always be a hard core holding out against them. But, by and large, there’s an apathetic attitude. Besides, people looked at Mississippi and saw that what happened there really brought a lot of discredit on the institution. At the start of the quarter you do hear, ‘How many this quarter?’ People realize that they have the right to come here, but they resent that they’re here. There’s a tendency for students to say, ‘I don’t want to sit beside her,’ because of what their friends might say. I don’t have any hesitation about stopping and talking to Charlayne in the hall; I’ve done it several times. And a lot of people say hello on the campus.”
When I remarked that Charlayne still heard abusive remarks on the campus, Johnson seemed quite surprised. I asked him what would happen if, because of some common interest, he might decide to have lunch with Hamilton Holmes, and he said, “I’d be ostracized pretty much. There would be numerous criticisms. There’s an attitude of apathy toward their being here, but there’s no real acceptance. I guess it’s just the way we were all brought up.”
Johnson nodded when I said I’d gathered that any student—white or Negro—who didn’t belong to a fraternity or sorority was not in the mainstream of the university’s social life. “Your Interfraternity Council dominates the campus here,” he told me. “It’s the most powerful body. Every major officer is a Greek—the president of your senior class, the president of the student body. It seems like your top-quality people are Greeks.”
Later that week I met some of the top-quality people and some of the hard core at the same time, as a result of having suggested to Johnson that it might be instructive for me to spend an hour or two chatting with his fraternity brothers. Sigma Nu is a fraternity with strong small-town domination. When Hamilton spoke of “crackers,” he often mentioned the Sigma Nus just after such fraternities as the dependably hostile A.T.O.s and, of course, the flag-flying Kappa Alphas. (“They don’t even take that flag in when it rains,” Hamilton often said. “What a bunch of crackers!”) The undergraduate who cast the first brick into Charlayne’s room on the night of the riot was a Sigma Nu; he had later been suspended for his part in the riot and had been reinstated after a quarter’s suspension. On the other hand, one of the fraternity’s most famous alumni, Senator Herman Talmadge, had been quite cordial when Charlayne, out of curiosity, dropped in to see him during a visit to Washington the previous fall.
In any event, the Sigma Nus who gathered around me in their living room late one night seemed, despite their rush-party kind of friendliness, as firmly determined to prove that they were segregationists as the law students had been two and a half years before. (One of the law students had told me, “The long arm of judicial tyranny is crushing us under the heel of its boot.”) It seemed obvious that they could not always have displayed as much emotion when the subject came up; otherwise they would have worn each other out in a month or two. Their opinions were a menagerie of clichés: there was the conspiracy of the N.A.A.C.P., the disloyalty of the Supreme Court, the equality of the flashy schools that had been constructed for Negroes in their home towns lately, even Scriptural admonitions against mixing with the hewers of wood. Although some of the carefully nurtured prejudices seemed sincere, the opinions themselves were not as strong as the compulsion to make them appear so for my benefit and each other’s. The Ritual, which is gradually dying out among adults in Georgia, appeared to be in full bloom in the younger generation. Still, one involuntary sign of progress kept creeping out. Most of the clichés followed a clause such as “We may not be able to do anything about it, and I’m sure not going to risk my butt trying, but . . .” or “All right, they have a legal right to be here, but . . .” Nobody in the Sigma Nu house had been granting that right in 1961. Although the admission made the clichés sound even feebler, it confirmed Dean Tate’s theory that the boys who thought they could do something about clearing the campus of Negroes were gone. One Sigma Nu actually offered the opinion that if Hamilton Holmes did better on the college boards than he did, Hamilton Holmes deserved to be admitted to Georgia before he was. The speaker was slightly drunk, and his fraternity brothers, having booed him, assured me that he didn’t realize what he was saying.
About the only cliché that the Sigma Nus forgot—that “you can’t legislate morality”—has often been cited by those who maintain that a traditional system of segregation cannot be ended by a court order. In fact, in the South since 1954 the pattern has been exactly the opposite, and the University of Georgia turned out to be no exception. Even the self-conscious chorus of Sigma Nus accepted the right of Charlayne and Hamilton to attend the university—a right that did not, of course, depend on their acceptance. Most of the students had apparently got used to seeing Charlayne and Hamilton on the campus, without caring much one way or the other, just as most people in Atlanta, Savannah, and Macon had got used to seeing Negroes ride in the front of formerly segregated buses and use formerly all-white libraries and lunch counters. Some students at Georgia—the members of Charlayne’s summer session classics course, for example, who were suddenly confronted with a more than equal Negro—were forced to change some of their views by the fact of integration. And a few, at first wanting an open university more than they wanted segregation, then appalled by the riot staged in the name of segregation, then feeling a certain amount of natural sympathy for people in a lonely spot, eventually went beyond the view that Charlayne and Hamilton were at Georgia because of some narrow and unfortunate legal right, and began to believe that they should be there.
Some of the students in the last category were members of the Westminster Disciplined Study Community, a group of about a dozen undergraduates, including Harold Black, who met at Westminster House every weekday morning at seven-fifteen to discuss religion and related subjects. About the only member of the group who was also influential in the Greek establishment was Winston Stephens, a former president of the Women’s Student Government Association, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, and the daughter of Robert Stephens, who represents Athens and the surrounding area in Congress. Winston, a tall, thin, thoughtful girl, was also in Charlayne’s honors seminar, and after the class one day I arranged to meet her for a talk about how the white students had reacted to integration.
She agreed with Tommy Johnson on the attitude of most students. “People don’t notice as much if they see Charlayne or Hamilton on the campus,” she said. “But they’ll remark on it if they have a class with them, especially if they think it will mean some physical contact. One of my sorority sisters has a physical-education class in folk dancing with one of the Negro freshmen, and she’s quite upset about it. I don’t think the attitude has changed in respect to integration. Most people feel they’re here, and nothing can be done. There’s no pressure against being normally friendly. I always say hello to Charlayne. I sat down in the library to study with her the other night and nobody said anything. We’re in that seminar together now, so I’ll probably be seeing her more. Sometimes, when something happens—like when I heard at Westminster this week about a boy who was threatened because he ate with the two freshmen—I’m so shocked, because I get so I think that kind of thing is over.”
I asked Winston what the reaction would be if she had lunch with Charlayne.
“It would depend on who saw it,” she said. “A sorority sister of mine, who was head of Women’s Student Government when Charlayne came, was asked to escort her to one or two places—as part of her official duties—and she got a lot of criticism. The sorority members feel that what one member does reflects on the whole sorority. Even if people don’t remember the girl’s name, they can usually identify the group. I’m afraid we classify by groups here.”
I got the impression that whereas Tommy Johnson hadn’t considered the idea of having lunch with Hamilton, Winston would have lunch with Charlayne if she felt like it, and I was curious how she managed to maintain her connection with the slightly suspect Westminster group, which, after all, included a Negro, and still preserve her standing in a society so conscious of the group that the deviation of one sorority member casts a stigma on the whole sorority.
“It doesn’t come up too often,” Winston said. “I avoid talking about it. People know I go there, but nobody says much. I suppose I’m not ready to make a public declaration about it all. It’s a personal thing. I think I don’t say much about it because of my family, but maybe that’s an excuse. I feel good sometimes that Charlayne and Hamilton are here. Everybody raised in the South has to go through a time of getting used to the change in status, and I think the earlier in your life you do it the better off you are.”
White students who did want to see Charlayne and Hamilton socially were handicapped by limited entertainment facilities in Athens, for, even though Athens is one of the most progressive small cities in Georgia, the court order desegregating the university naturally did not desegregate the town. In the South, the normal Chamber of Commerce method of nicknaming a city is to claim that it is the Southern version of some other city, so Atlanta is the New York of the South, Birmingham is the Pittsburgh of the South, New Orleans is the Paris of the South, and Nashville—which has a neo-Greek state capitol, an exact replica of the Parthenon not far away, and a university that is occasionally called the Princeton of the South—is the Athens of the South. Since this method might have left Athens, which actually is the Athens of the South, with a redundant title, headline writers in Georgia long ago settled on “the Classic City” as a sobriquet. But there is little about Athens that is classic, whether the term is taken to apply to ancient Greece or the Old South. The town does not have the traditional town square built around a county courthouse and a Confederate monument. It does have some beautiful ante-bellum houses, a sprinkling of commemorative plaques, and a pleasant history that has always been intermingled with that of the university it was founded to house. Athens, which has a population of about forty thousand, has never been a mill town, and its leaders, who often, through family ties if not actual employment, consider themselves “university people,” have, compared to those in other Georgia towns, usually led wisely. The atmosphere became more cosmopolitan after the Second World War, when three or four northern firms established plants nearby, one of them, a Westinghouse factory, moving in seventy-five families—executives and technical people—from Pennsylvania. In 1959, Athens acquired one of the state’s first active chapters of HOPE (Help Our Public Education), which worked to keep schools open long before that effort was made almost respectable by the report of the Sibley Commission. One of its organizers, a former city attorney and part-time Georgia professor, whose ancestors include a president and a chancellor of the university, was later elected Superior Court judge for the area. Clarke County, which is almost entirely Athens, has always had one of the most liberal voting records in the state. (In fact, the men who control Athens tend to be more enlightened politically than the men who control the university. The University System Board of Regents is composed of one member from each of Georgia’s ten congressional districts and five members from the state at large, all appointed, for staggered terms, by the governor. The best known regent is Roy Harris, who for years has been Georgia’s most vocal racist and who was formerly a political power in the state. Although Harris was discredited throughout most of Georgia even before he made an abusive phone call to President Aderhold the night Charlayne and Hamilton were admitted to the university, he is probably more at home at a meeting of the Board of Regents than he would be in any Athens board room. In the 1962 primary campaign, when Carl Sanders made his bid for the gubernatorial nomination by promising “a new era in Georgia”—he was nominated overwhelmingly—eight of the fifteen regents appeared on the platform at the opening campaign rally for Marvin Griffin, a former governor, whose administration probably set state records for racism and venality. When the Atlanta Constitution criticized the supposedly nonpolitical regents for backing Griffin, their chairman—then Robert O. Arnold, a man who swore during the Athens trial that all he knew about the fund cut-off law was what he read in the papers—asserted that several other regents were also for Griffin but had been unable to be at the rally.)
During the time Charlayne and Hamilton were at Georgia, the white leaders of Athens, working with the Negro community, quietly integrated the town’s department-store lunch counters and its bus station, and, I gathered, from what people in Athens said, that the only reason more progress had not been made was that the city lacked a tough and effective Negro leadership to apply the pressure.
Even before any move was made in the direction of desegregation, the attitude of the white community in Athens toward nonwhites had been softened by the presence of foreign students at the university. They had begun coming thirty or forty years earlier, and when Charlayne and Hamilton started their senior year, one hundred and sixteen foreign students, from thirty-seven countries, were enrolled at Georgia. The largest lot—nineteen—was from Cambodia, which has an exchange program with the Agriculture School whereby Cambodian students attend Georgia and Georgia professors teach in Cambodia. The second largest—eleven—was from Syria, the Ford Foundation having established grants for Syrians who wished to study agriculture and rural education in Georgia, since Georgia is very similar to Syria in climate, geography, and soil, not to speak of politics. The university also had four students from India, three from the Philippines, and one or two apiece from Pakistan, Thailand, most of the countries in Europe and South America, and practically everywhere else except black Africa. Foreign students are carefully looked after by the university, which makes a conscious attempt, sometimes successful and sometimes not, to integrate them into normal student life.
As long as the dark-skinned students wear their native costumes, they can count on the hospitality of Athens. I had heard that Indian girls were advised to abandon any thought of switching from saris to American dress, but when I visited the foreign students’ office at Georgia the assistant director said, “We usually don’t have to tell them; they get the word.” There was an uncomfortable situation several years ago when a particularly dark Sikh, moved equally by a natural desire to dress like his fellows and by the difficulty of getting turbans laundered in Athens, Georgia, declared a few weeks after he arrived that he was going to cut his hair and give up his turban. Concerned lest the Sikh be taken for an American, the foreign students’ office prevailed upon another foreign student to remind him of how disappointed his father might be if the old traditions were flouted, and the Sikh decided to postpone his haircut. He finally did give up his turban the following fall, but by then he was known in Athens and everything worked out all right.
There have been few incidents involving the foreign students, but, despite their presence and the generally progressive record of the town, many places are not open to Negroes. Unless they put on a turban or a sari—something that Negroes in the South have done occasionally—the Negro students at Georgia could go to no movie theaters except the one for Negroes, the Harlem Theatre, and to no restaurants and no beer parlors. Hamilton went to the movies at the Harlem Theatre occasionally, but Charlayne and Mary Frances Early quickly decided that it was no place for girls. “We went once, but never again,” Charlayne said. “They were screaming and yelling, and it was a filthy place. A cat and her kittens were wandering around in there. I wouldn’t be surprised if the kittens were born there.”
Because the university is legally desegregated and the town is not, Charlayne and the girls could go to the snack bar in the basement of their dormitory but not to the lunch counter on the ground floor of an apartment building right across the street. When Charlayne and Hamilton went to a football game, they sat in the senior section, while the Negroes from Athens sat segregated in a narrow band of seats called “the crow’s nest.” Still, Athens had not been totally unaffected by the presence of Negroes at the university. For one of her journalism courses, Charlayne observed the local magistrate’s court for a week, sitting with a white boy in the courtroom, and she was treated with friendliness. She also ate occasionally at Woolworth’s with white students after the desegregation of the lunch counter there. All the Negro students at Georgia made a point of using the main waiting room at the bus station. And the First Presbyterian Church, on many Sundays during the school year, included in its distinguished and conservative congregation of university faculty and Athens business leaders Harold Black, a Negro Baptist from Atlanta.