Trailblazing journalist shares 'hope' with Exeter

Charlayne Hunter-Gault asks assembly audience to 'use this place to prepare to take on the challenges in this world.'

May 9, 2023

Journalism trailblazer and civil rights champion Charlayne Hunter-Gault told an Assembly Hall audience on Tuesday morning that she had come to Exeter armed with "hope" that our country will learn from its history rather than repeat it.

Hunter-Gault, a Peabody- and Emmy-winning TV and radio reporter, is this year's Strickler Fund speaker, a series that has welcomed journalists such as Nicholas Kristof, Jill Abrahamson and Charles Blow to the Assembly Hall stage. The fund was given to The Exonian by Richard Strickler '66, a former editor of Exeter's newspaper.

Hunter-Gault made light of the length of her career, telling the students, “I like to consider my 81-year-old self, dare I say, ‘woke.’ So, let me hasten to quote from LL Cool J, who says ‘Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years.’”

“I’ve been here for 81 years, so I come here today aware of all of our challenges, but I want to share with you, albeit poetically, this: I cope with the news that is not always good, because I believe in hope”

Hunter-Gault told Exeter’s students that a college professor told her that “history tells us we do not learn from history,” but she emphasized that it was “important to look back to assess how far we’ve come … and to keep from going back.”

Watch Hunter-Gault’s assembly address in its entirety.