UA commemorates 60th anniversary of desegregation

Zara Morgan, Staff Reporter

Starting this weekend from June 11 to 12, the University will host a series of events to commemorate the anniversary of the historic events, including the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, that began the process of school desegregation in Alabama. 

On June 11, 1963, Gov. George Wallace symbolically stood in the doors of Foster Auditorium to try to stop Black students Vivian Malone and James Hood from enrolling at The University of Alabama in what came to be known as the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door. Malone and Hood were not the first Black students to attend classes at the University, as Autherine Lucy had attended for three days in 1956 but was expelled due to mob violence. However, Malone and Hood’s attendance marked the beginning of desegregation at the University. 

Christine Taylor, the vice president and associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion, said that it is important to remember June 11, 1963, as a milestone in improving inclusion in higher education.

“Ultimately, I hope [students] begin to understand one’s history, the history of our institution, that they can perhaps really think about the importance of courage and persistence, and that they have a moment of reflecting on the responsibility that each of us has to continue to persist,” Taylor said. “Be courageous around things that positively impact the human good.” 

The University will hold an observance on June 11 at 11:30 a.m. at in room 213 of Bryant Conference Center that will feature music, the laying of a wreath, and photo opportunities with the original Foster Auditorium doors in which Wallace stood.  

A concert planned for the evening of June 11 in front of Denny Chimes is being rescheduled for another date. 

On June 12 at 1:30 p.m., “Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment,” a 1963 documentary showcasing the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door from the perspectives of Malone and Hood, will be shown in Foster Auditorium, followed by a discussion led by John Giggie, an associate professor of history and the director of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South. The University will provide refreshments. 

The events happening over the weekend are just the beginning. According to Taylor, events will be held to celebrate all year long.  

“This is going to be a yearlong celebration. This is because it’s important,” Taylor said. “If you look at most civil rights movies that talk about the Civil Rights Movement, you’re bound to see something that relates to the history of this campus and its contribution within the context of all that was happening in the nation. It’s important that we’re aware of that and we don’t lose sight of that.”