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James Hood: 5 Facts About a Civil Rights Hero
Posted By Patrick Kiger On January 22, 2013 @ 4:03 pm In Legacy | Comments Disabled
A half-century ago, George Wallace became famous – some might say infamous – for his pledge, as the governor of Alabama, to “stand in the schoolhouse door” if necessary to prevent African-Americans from getting an education in the same classrooms as whites, even if it meant defying President John F. Kennedy and the federal courts.
While Wallace’s bluster made the headlines and history books, sadly, less attention has been paid to the object of his antipathy: James A. Hood, who, with Vivian Malone Jones, broke the color barrier by attending the University of Alabama in 1963. It took a federal court order and a contingent of National Guard soldiers to compel Wallace to back down and allow the two to enroll in classes.
Hood, who died on Jan. 17 at age 70 in Gadsen, Ala., experienced such vicious harassment at the university – he had to live alone in a dorm with federal marshals guarding him – that the burden, coupled with his worry about his ill father, became too great to bear. He reluctantly had to withdraw after just two months. (Jones did manage to stay and earn her degree.) Nevertheless, Hood’s courage broke down a barrier that allowed others to follow in his footsteps, and he ultimately overcame hatred and prejudice to live a life full of achievements.
Here are five facts about one of the civil rights movement’s unsung heroes:
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