Racial Integration of Public Schools
Nearly a decade after the Supreme Court’s seminal ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which mandated racial integration of public schools across the nation, Southern universities remained largely racially segregated. Southern lawmakers defiantly upheld policies and practices designed to maintain all-white universities, ranging from outright exclusion of qualified black students, to paying them to attend historically black colleges and universities and out of state schools. In what year and by what governor were Federal officials blocked from enrolling two black students at this storied Southern university?
In January of 1963, following his election as Governor of Alabama, George Wallace famously stated in his inaugural address: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” The staunch conservative demonstrated his loyalty to the cause on June 11, 1963, when black students Vivian Malone and James A. Hood showed up at the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa to attend class. In what historians often refer to as the “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” the governor literally stood in the doorway as Federal authorities tried to allow the students to enter. When Wallace refused to budge, President John F. Kennedy called for 100 troops from the Alabama National Guard to assist Federal officials. Wallace chose to step down rather than incite violence.