"They were fighting tradition and change. It just
wasn't my time."
"A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation
is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive
John F. Kennedy
The Stand in the Schoolhouse Door was one of two major confrontations
that took place at The University of Alabama that served to "punctuate
dramatic campaigns in the movement for civil rights" (Clark, 1995,
xvii). The first event took place in February, 1957, two
months after the initiation of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This
event dealt with the attempt by an African American woman, Autherine
Lucy, to enroll in classes at The University of Alabama. After
receiving notification that she could enroll in classes at the
university, Ms. Lucy came to Tuscaloosa.
After three days of confrontations, demonstrations, and violence,
she was driven from the campus on February 11 and later
suspended. On February 29, through a court order, Lucy was ordered
to be readmitted to the university. She was later expelled
by the university's Board of Trustees. These events led
to great sympathy for this young woman and gave the university
the "dubious distinction of being the first educational institution
ordered to desegregate under the Brown
v. Board of Education implementation decree and the first
where a course order was effectively flouted by a determined show
of massive resistance" (Clark, 1995, xvii).
The second event, The Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, is known
as a significant event in the struggle for Civil Rights.
This event, the attempt by two other African Americans to attend
The University of Alabama was also a stand off between state and
federal leaders. Vivian Malone and James Hood sought their
right to attend this state university on June 11, 1963.
The governor of Alabama, George C. Wallace, refused to allow the
students to enter. After President John F. Kennedy federalized
the National Guard, Wallace made his famous stand in the School
House Door, read his
proclamation, then stepped aside and allowed the students
to enter and become the first African Americans to attend The
University of Alabama.
This photo is courtesy of the Tuscaloosa News.
To learn more about each of the three pioneers who made such
important contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, click below:
Activity for the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door