This is the 50th year Anniversary of the Integration of the University of Alabama…
On June 11, 1963, in a ceremonial demonstration, Governor Wallace stood in front of the University of Alabama's Foster Auditorium and delivered a short speech in support of so-called states rights. Vivian Malone, and James Hood arrived at the University accompanied by United States Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, Wallace, backed by state troopers, refused them entry.
President John F. Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard later the same day, which put them under the command of the President, rather than the Governor of Alabama. Guardsmen escorted Malone and Hood back to the auditorium, where Wallace moved aside at the request of General Henry Graham. Malone and Hood then entered the building, albeit through another door.
You will never know the courage it took to integrate a heretofore white university in the Deep South in the early '60's. Isolated with virtually NO ONE to talk to or with, while being subjected to the most vile and vitriolic racism. I knew both James and Vivian. They were both ordinary persons who became extraordinary civil rights and university integration pioneers. Vivian died in 2005 and James Hood passed last week.
Every time I watch the make-up of NCAA Football Champions University of Alabama noting the number of Blacks, I cringe first…and then I ALWAYS think of Vivian and James. I often wonder if Blacks on the football team and at the University of Alabama have a clue as to the bravery and courage 50 years ago to get them where they are today.
God Bless their Spirits, and the sacrifices they made for the Struggle.
The Struggle Continues…RLHSR.