Twenty-five years after Vivian Malone Jones was refused entry at the University of Alabama, an all white school, she says she would engage in the fight for civil rights all over again.
25 Years Since Racial Integration at University of Alabama
DOUGLAS KIKER, reporting: Today, the wife of an Atlanta doctor and the mother of two college kids, Vivian Malone Jones says, she was a little nervous back then, but she’d do it again.
Ms. VIVIAN MALONE JONES: There’s no doubt in my mind that if I were faced with this same situation in 1988 that I would go through it again.
KIKER: Today she wouldn’t need the National Guard. The University of Alabama is totally integrated, with 1,700 black students, 10 percent.
Dr. JOAB THOMAS: This campus is better integrated, I think, than many campuses in the country, better than most.
KIKER: This weekend at the university, there was a reunion of sorts of the people who played roles in that dramatic event a quarter of a century ago. George Wallace did not attend the symposium on Race Relations in America, his health is not good. But Wallace, long ago, accepted defeat on this issue; he even crowned the first black university homecoming queen.
Mr. GEORGE WALLACE: I believed it was in the best interest of white and black, to be in a segregated school system. But I was wrong, and once we lost the legal battles, I think we all saw we were wrong.
KIKER: Dr. Rose, university president at the time, says the school was caught in the middle of a political confrontation.
Dr. FRANK ROSE: We were caught between a rock and a hard place. Course, as you know, Governor Wallace was pretty stubborn about keeping us segregated. John Kennedy and Bob Kennedy were determined that we were going to integrate that day.
KIKER: Tuscaloosa banker, George Lamayda, organized local businessmen and tried to keep the peace.
Mr. GEORGE LAMAYDA: We had what amounted to a political campaign going, solely for the purpose of asking George to stay away.
KIKER: But George Wallace did not stay away. The man he confronted was Nicholas Katzenbach, the assistant U.S. attorney general sent from Washington to help the black students register for class.
Mr. NICHOLAS KATZENBACH: I was annoyed at the show to get two kids into college, I was annoyed at the fact that Governor Wallace wanted to exploit race on national television the way he did, and I was annoyed that he stood in the shade and I stood in the sun.
KIKER: June 11, 1963.
WASHINGTON — Poor, black and Hispanic children are becoming increasingly isolated from their white, affluent peers in the nation's public schools, according to new federal data released Tuesday, 62 years after the Supreme Court decided that segregated schools are "inherently unequal" and therefore unconstitutional.