James A. Hood, a University Of Alabama alumni who fought against segregation during one of the most violent summers of the civil rights movement, has died at the age of 70, according to a report by The Los Angeles Times.
Hood became one of two black students—the other being Vivian Malone, the first black graduate of the university—whose effort to enroll at the U Alabama in June 1963 led to Governor George Wallace’s segregationist “stand in the schoolhouse door.”
Get schooled on the history behind his plight below, via LA Times:
“Hood was a student at Clark College in Atlanta and already considering applying to the University of Alabama to pursue a psychology degree when he saw a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that pushed him toward a decision. The article, which said it was based on a survey of students at Clark, claimed that blacks were not capable of higher thinking abilities.
Hood wrote a letter to the editor to complain about the article and received a reply printed on toilet tissue, he told the Crimson White, the University of Alabama’s student newspaper, in 2003. He was told he wasn’t smart enough to question the newspaper’s editors, he said.”
On a scorching June day, the first day of registration for the summer term, Hood and Malone waited in a nearby car while Wallace read a proclamation from the steps of the university’s Foster Auditorium. In a series of actions Hood later described as a carefully orchestrated dance, Wallace publicly refused to move away from the building’s door, prompting President Kennedy to call in the National Guard to force him to do so.
Wallace complied, allowing the two students, who were accompanied by a deputy U.S. attorney general and flanked by federal marshals, to enter the building and complete their enrollment.”
Hood died Thursday at his home in Gadsden, Alabama, as confirmed by a funeral home official.
Much respect to James A. Hood for being a leader in the progression of black education. VIBE sends our condolences to his family.