Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was founded in 1816 on the site of a former
village of the Creek, and was the state capital from 1826 to 1846.
The city is also the home of The University of Alabama. In 1963,
the University was under court order to admit an African American
student named Vivian Malone. Earlier in the year George Wallace
had been elected governor of the state of Alabama after taking a
pro-segregation stance. During the campaign he declared, “Segregation
now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” When the
federal government attempted to force the admittance of Malone,
Governor Wallace sought to keep his promise of segregation. On June
11, his famous “stand in the
schoolhouse door” was made at the University of Alabama.
With television cameras rolling, Wallace blocked the entrance of
African American students attempting to register. U.S. Attorney
General Nicholas Katzenbach, backed by federal officers, forced
the governor to step aside and accepted his dramatic surrender.
That evening President John F. Kennedy pledged to create a strong
civil rights bill.