Remembering June 11, 1963

To the left an African American young man wearing a hat, suit and tie and to the right an African American young woman neatly dressed
James Hood and Vivian Malone Jones

On this date in history, Black students Vivian Malone and James Hood registered for classes at The University of Alabama despite then-Gov. George C. Wallace’s unsuccessful attempt to block their enrollment. That day changed Alabama and the nation when Malone and Hood walked through the doors of Foster Auditorium to enroll as students at The University of Alabama — marking the beginning of school desegregation in the state and moving forward a comprehensive federal civil rights act.

On the morning of June 11, acting on the authority of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, accompanied by federal marshals and the Alabama National Guard, confronted Wallace and asked him to allow Malone and Hood to enter Foster Auditorium to register for classes. Wallace refused and delivered a speech denouncing the federal government and advocating for states’ rights. Upon hearing of Wallace’s refusal, Kennedy then authorized the National Guard to remove him. That afternoon, Wallace made a statement and complied with the President’s order. Malone and Hood enrolled without further incident.

That evening in a televised address to the nation, President Kennedy declared civil rights no longer simply a legal issue but a moral issue. One week later, he submitted a civil rights bill that became the foundation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Learn more about the desegregation of The University of Alabama and the courageous students who made it happen with the resources below.

African American woman flanked by two caucasan men
Vivian Malone escorted by Deputy Attorney Gen. Nicholas Katzenbach (left) on June 11, 1963

This Day in History | June 11: University of Alabama Desegregated (History.com)

Stand in the Schoolhouse Door (Encyclopedia of Alabama)

University of Alabama Integration (Civil Rights Digital Library)

Acknowledging UA’s Past (UA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion)

A trip to the archives: Here’s how three CW editors covered segregation on campus (The Crimson White, 2019)

2010 Panel Discussion of UA’s Desegregation (The University of Alabama/YouTube)
In November 2010, before the dedication of the Autherine Lucy Foster Clock Tower and the Malone-Hood Plaza, Autherine Lucy Foster, Dr. James Hood, Dr. Sharon Malone Holder and Elvin Malone, the sister and brother of Vivian Malone Jones, participated in a discussion facilitated by Dr. Culpepper Clark to talk about the events of June 1963.

Dedication of Malone-Hood Plaza and Autherine Lucy Clock Tower (The University of Alabama/Vimeo)


Vivian Malone Jones


Vivian Malone Jones interview at 40th anniversary event

“There will come a day in your life when you must act for others, your family, perhaps your community, and you must be ready! So, take from all the books you have read, all the lessons you have learned, the certain knowledge that one day, any day, you must be bold, have courage and walk through a door that leads to opportunity for others.”

Vivian Malone Jones, commencement address, The University of Alabama, 2000

In 1963, Vivian Juanita Malone, a native of Mobile, Alabama, stepped through the doors at Foster Auditorium to register for classes at The University of Alabama and never looked back. She became the University’s first African American graduate on May 30, 1965, when she received a bachelor’s degree in commerce and business administration. She received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from UA on Aug. 12, 2000, and served as commencement speaker that year. In 2013, the University dedicated the Malone-Hood Plaza in front of Foster Auditorium to honor Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood and their courage to break barriers. Also, Jones was named to the UA Division of Student Life Hall of Fame, and in 2021 was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2022, the UA Culverhouse Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the UA Black Alumni Association established The Malone Awards to celebrate alumni excellence and support student success. Jones died Oct. 13, 2005.

40th Anniversary: Vivian Malone Jones and the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door (The University of Alabama/YouTube)

A Daughter’s Struggle to Overcome a Legacy of Segregation
(NPR 2013: audio and transcript of an interview with Peggy Wallace Kennedy, George Wallace’s daughter who was 13 at the time of these events)

Vivian Malone Jones – Through the Doors (The University of Alabama: brief bio, 2000 commencement address and hooding)

Commencement Address to The University of Alabama Graduating Class of 2000 (transcript)


James Hood


Older man seated in wheelchair on right and younger man standing to his left as they look to the left of the photo frame
James Hood and family member at 50th anniversary of UA’s desegregation

“One person can make a difference if that one person is committed to making a difference.”

Dr. James Hood

James Alexander Hood, a native of Gadsden, Alabama, was an activist at a young age and was active in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was persuaded by civil rights leaders to apply for admission to UA and initially was denied because of his race. A federal judge ordered Hood’s admission to UA. He registered for classes on June 11, 1963, with Vivian Malone; however, he left the University after two months, saying he wanted to avoid “a complete mental and physical breakdown.” He transferred to Wayne State University in Detroit where he studied political science and police administration and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. He earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University in 1972. After a career in law enforcement and education, he returned to The University of Alabama and earned a doctorate in higher education in 1997. Hood died Jan. 17, 2013.

James Hood – Through the Doors (The University of Alabama: brief bio)

James Hood, who integrated University of Alabama, dies at 70 (The Washington Post)

James Hood Dies at 70; Integrated University of Alabama (The New York Times)

James Hood/Malone-Hood Plaza (The University of Alabama)

A New Beginning: A Tribute to Courage and Progress
(The University of Alabama: 2013 website for the Malone-Hood Plaza and Autherine Lucy Clock Tower)


Autherine Lucy Foster


Elderly Black woman seated in a wheelchair waving at crowd
Autherine Lucy Foster at 2019 UA Commencement

“My response to fear is: do it anyway. Let nothing stop you. You have to push forward.”

Dr. Autherine Lucy Foster

Before June 11, 1963, there was Feb. 6, 1956.

Autherine Lucy, a native of Shiloh, Alabama, became the first African American student to enroll at UA on Feb. 3, 1956. She initially applied to UA in 1952 after earning a degree in English from Miles College that same year. However, her acceptance was rescinded because she was not white. A federal court order later reversed that decision, and Foster enrolled at UA in 1956. However, she attended classes for only three days and was suspended and later expelled from campus due to riots and threats against her life. In 1988, the UA Board of Trustees overturned her expulsion. A year later she again enrolled at UA, joining her daughter, Grazia Foster, who was also a student at UA. Autherine Lucy Foster earned a master’s degree in elementary education in August 1991, and Grazia Foster earned a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance. They crossed the commencement stage together in 1992. Upon her graduation, the University honored Autherine Lucy Foster with a portrait of her that hangs in the Student Center’s Hall of Fame.

Autherine Lucy Foster leaves a long legacy at UA. Her valiant role in desegregating the University is also recognized with a pair of endowed scholarships and three landmarks on campus – a historic marker in front of what is now Autherine Lucy Hall and the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower. She is listed as a UA Legend, was inducted into the UA Student Life Hall of Fame and has numerous campus awards and honors named for her. The University dedicated Autherine Lucy Hall Feb. 25, 2022. The following month, Foster died and a memorial service was held on campus on March 9.

Historic Marker Honors Civil Rights Hero (The University of Alabama)

Autherine Lucy Hall Dedication (The University of Alabama/YouTube)

The Story of Autherine Lucy Foster (The University of Alabama/YouTube)

Remembering Autherine Lucy Foster (The University of Alabama/website)

Autherine Lucy: Forgotten Hero (an Alternative Campus Tour on Race & Memory at UA
(webpage created by Dr. Meredith M. Bagley, former professor in UA Communication Studies)

50th Anniversary of Autherine Lucy Foster’s Enrollment at UA – Part One (The University of Alabama/YouTube)

50th Anniversary of Autherine Lucy Foster’s Enrollment at UA – Part Two (The University of Alabama/YouTube)

50th Anniversary of Autherine Lucy Foster’s Enrollment at UA – Part Three (The University of Alabama/YouTube)

Autherine Lucy (Encyclopedia of Alabama)


Recommended Viewing

CBS Special Report – June 11, 1963

  • John F. Kennedy’s 1963 Televised Address to the Nation on Civil Rights – transcript of the speech (The JFK Library)
  • A report from Roger Mudd, a broadcast journalist who was a correspondent and anchor for CBS News
  • Dan Rather, CBS news correspondent, interview with CBS newsman Nelson Benton, who was in Tuscaloosa and gave a description of events on June 11.
  • Interview with Atlanta Constitution editor Ralph McGill in Washington with Charles Von Friend, CBS News Washington correspondent
  • Interview with Gunnar Myrdal, Swedish Nobel laureate, economist and sociologist, whose book “An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy,” is considered a classic in sociology.

A Confrontation for Integration at The University of Alabama (The Grio/YouTube)


Recommended Reading

Books

  • “Opening the Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa” by B.J. Hollars
  • “The Schoolhouse Door: Segregation’s Last Stand at the University of Alabama” by E. Culpepper Clark

The Tuscaloosa News Archives

June 11, 1963

  • University Showdown at Hand
  • Price of Peace Major Concern of Businessmen (AP Jack Stillman)
  • Wallace Prepares to Stand in Door (TNews Dick Looser)
  • No Legal Leg to Stand on, Wallace Told
  • By Student Leaders Negroes Described as ‘Stoic,’ Congenial
  • UA Newspaper Supports Mixing on Moral Grounds
  • JFK Federalizes State Guard After Governor Blocks Mixing
  • Wallace’s Statement at Foster
  • Will be Enrolled, Says U.S. Official
  • This is the Text of Proclamation (President John F. Kennedy’)
  • Don’t Have Any Legal Legs to Stand on, Wallace Told
  • For Negroes, Marshals It was a Quiet Trip into Tuscaloosa

June 12, 1963

  • Talks to Nation, President Outlines Rights Proposals
  • 2 Negroes Begin Capstone Classes
  • Classes Started, UA Quiet
  • Local Guardsmen Assigned UA Duty
  • No Guns Fired, No Rocks Thrown, But Old Flavor to Federal Victory at UA
  • Some Officers Leaving Duty at UA Campus
  • No Arrests
  • City Returns to ‘Normal’ After Mixing
  • Violence Absent from UA Scene
  • Wallace’s Stand not Likely to Bring Prosecution by U.S.
  • Governor’s Stand at UA Labeled a Political Blunder
  • A Crisis Passes Peacefully
  • Registration Takes Only 15 Minutes
  • Tuscaloosa Keeping Quiet About Situation
  • Students Mildly Surprised by Gov. Wallace’s Action

June 13, 1963

  • Solons Praise Wallace Stand at University
  • UA Atmosphere Friendlier, Report 2 Negro Students
  • Shelton Says Klan to Fight Mixing on Economic Front
  • Roadblocks Gone from UA Campus
  • Kennedy Praises City in UA Case

Sept. 20, 1963

  • Negro Enrolls at University; Quiet Reported

May 30, 1965

  • Commencement 1965 (Editorial)
  • Grads Told Solutions Lie With Majority in Middle