George Wallace tried to curb integration at UA. Now, his name is being removed from a UAB building.

Nearly 60 years after his infamous Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, the former Alabama governor’s namesake will no longer grace UAB’s physical education building

The UA System Board of Trustees unanimously voted to rename the Wallace Physical Education Building on its Birmingham campus during a Feb. 5 meeting. 

George Wallace, the building’s former namesake, was the 45th governor of Alabama who is remembered for his staunch segregationist beliefs. He notoriously attempted to stop the University’s integration by blocking the registration of Vivian Malone and James Hood in 1963.

The building was named after Wallace in 1973, two years after an attempted assassination during his campaign for president paralyzed him. He sought treatment at UAB’s Spain Rehabilitation Center, which was closely connected to the new physical education building. 

“This is simply the right thing to do,” said Trustee John England Jr., committee chair. “The UA System, the Board of Trustees, our working group and our campuses recognize Governor Wallace’s complex legacy, including the well-known acceptance of his apology by civil rights icon John Lewis.”

The Board’s committee concluded that Wallace’s later apologies do not erase the stain of his efforts to sow racial divisiveness. His name, the committee said, “remains an enduring symbol of racial injustice and rekindles memories of one of the State of Alabama’s darkest hours.” 

Wallace’s daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, said she and her husband have confidence in the Board’s decision. 

“It is important to the university to always seek positive and meaningful change for the betterment of students, faculty and the community,” she said. 

In the past six months, the Board has approved the renaming of three buildings with racist namesakes on UA’s flagship campus following the recommendations of its Building Names Review Committee. 

The committee’s formation in June coincided with the relocation of three Confederate monuments previously housed on the Quad, which followed a series of student petitions calling for their removal. 

The group, composed of Trustees John England, Jr., Barbara Humphrey, Vanessa Leonard, Harris Morrissette, Scott Phelps and Stan Starnes, continue to evaluate the names of buildings, structures and spaces on all UA System campuses. 

Read more about the history of UA buildings below:

‘It’s really getting old’: The ongoing reckoning of UA building namesakes