UGA’s first Black graduate releases autobiography


By Camie Williams/UGA Today

The Mary Frances Early College of Education and the University of Georgia Libraries invite the community to celebrate the launch of Mary Frances Early’s autobiography, “The Quiet Trailblazer: My Journey as the First Black Graduate of the University of Georgia.”

Early will participate in a virtual book discussion, in conversation with UGA women’s basketball coach Joni Taylor, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 28. Visit the registration page to sign up for the livestream event, which is part of the UGA Signature Lecture Series and is co-sponsored by the Office of the President and the Office of Alumni Relations.

For the celebration, 500 copies of “The Quiet Trailblazer” will be distributed to students as part of a community reading program created by the Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community earlier this year.

“I know how much this book means to Ms. Early and the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I also appreciate the work of the Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community for creating a fund to make this book available to members of the UGA community.”

Mary Frances Early

In “The Quiet Trailblazer,” Early recounts her firsthand experience coming to campus in the summer of 1961, joining Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes, the first Black students to enroll at UGA, and making history with her graduation with a master’s degree in music education in August 1962. She chronicles her career as a music educator, first teaching in segregated schools before blazing trails to lead the Atlanta City Schools music education department and become the first African American elected president of the Georgia Music Educators Association.

On Feb. 25, 2020, the university celebrated the naming of the College of Education in honor of Early, who also taught at Morehouse College and Spelman College and served as chair of the music department at Clark Atlanta University.

“Although Ms. Early’s story has been told by others and she has been interviewed many times in the last 20 years, it is wonderful that we now have her version of that story in writing to preserve for future generations,” said Denise Spangler, dean of the Mary Frances Early College of Education.

For the community reading program, students will be encouraged to pick up a free copy of the book during the week of Sept. 20-24. The giveaways will be held at four library locations: the Main Library, the Miller Learning Center, the Music Library, and the Curriculum Materials Library, located at the Mary Frances Early College of Education’s Aderhold Hall. For details, follow the UGA Libraries social media accounts at @ugalibs.

Other members of the UGA community, including faculty, staff, and alumni, are invited to purchase “The Quiet Trailblazer,” published by the Mary Frances Early College of Education and the UGA Libraries and distributed by the UGA Press. Use the code 08TRBLAZ21 by Oct. 15 to receive a 40 percent discount on the book and free shipping.

“We are grateful to Ms. Early for the many hours that she invested in writing her autobiography,” said Toby Graham, university librarian and associate provost. “What a gift it is to the UGA community and all who read this book to learn from Ms. Early’s experience and from her example.”

The UGA Libraries hold the Mary Frances Early papers, along with many other resources documenting the university’s desegregation in 1961.

312 views0 comments