June 11th 1963: The Stand in the Schoolhouse Door

On this day in 1963, segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace stood at the door of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama to prevent two black students (Vivian Malone and James Hood) from attending. Around the United States, following the Supreme Court declaring school segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), schools were being desegregated. Wallace became well known nationwide for his opposition to desegregation, famously saying in his inaugural speech “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”. As Wallace stood in the door, he was confronted by Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach who, when Wallace refused to move, called President John F. Kennedy who federalised the Alabama National Guard. General Henry Graham of the National Guard then asked him to step aside on the President’s orders, which Wallace reluctantly did, thus allowing Malone and Hood to register.