Because of what he did, African-American people were given the opportunity to go to the University of Alabama.
James Hood, of Gadsen, Alabama, one of the first black students to enroll at the University of Alabama in defiance of racial segregation over a half a century ago, has died at 70-years-old. The Associated Press reports,
UA President Judy Bonner remembered Hood as a man of “courage and conviction” for being one of the first black students to enroll at the university.
“His connection to the university continued decades later when he returned to UA to earn his doctorate in 1997. He was a valued member of The University of Alabama community, and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
In 1963 then-Alabama Governor George Wallace made his famous “stand in the schoolhouse door” in what would become a failed attempt to keep Hood and another black student, Vivian Malone from registering for classes.
Hood and Malone, accompanied by then-Deputy US Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach were confronted by Gov. Wallace at the door to the university’s Foster Auditorium when they attempted to enter to register for classes and pay their fees. Wallace was forced to back down later that day and they were both able to register for classes, making them the first black students at the University of Alabama.
The infamous schoolhouse door incident has been called an “iconic moment” in the Civil Rights Movement. Culpepper Clark who wrote The Schoolhouse Door: Segregation’s Last Stand at the University of Alabama, said it provided a “confrontation between Wallace and the Kennedy administration.” He describes the incident as being “symbolically important” because it helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.