56 years ago today on the campus of the University of Alabama located in Tuscaloosa, two African American, Vivian Malone, and James Hood attempted to break the bonds of segregation at Alabama's premier state university. At that time everything about the University of Alabama was white except for the domestic help. All the university's professors were lily-white, every athletic team's coaches were lily-white, every student whether male or female was lily-white, heck all the blossoms on the tree bloomed white. The greatest treasure of the University of Alabama in 1963 as it is the greatest treasure in 2019, the university's collegiate football team lead by then the legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant were comprised of nothing but good old southern white boys.
On the doors of the entrance leading to the campus of the University of Alabama stood one George Corey Wallace who would stage a performance for the white segregationist ages. Wallace, then Governor of the state would stand at the doors forbidding to allow the two African Americans the opportunity to enroll in their home state's university. Of course, Wallace's theatrics were driven specifically for white hate-filled segregationists who reveled in this type of race-baiting. Wallace had already agreed to allow the admission of Hood and Malone but he just couldn't simply open the welcoming doors of the University of Alabama to two of Alabama's black residents. That wasn't acceptable behavior for the man who pronounced when he took the oath of office, segregation today, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever. George Wallace knew how to play to his base. So his base personality on June 11, 1963, was that of a pure white racist who was bent on protecting the honor and prestige of the University of Alabama from being soiled by any person of color, even if those individuals had the right to attend the state's premier university.
Wow, only 56 years ago today the entire dynamics of Alabama's University system was completely and forever changed. Alabama's African-American population in 1962 had numerous HBCU's to choose from starting with Tuskegee Institute, Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Miles College, Talladega College, Stillman College located right in Tuscaloosa among others. So, why George Wallace and his band of segregationist thought should they soil the lily-whiteness of the University of Alabama or Auburn University? The choices were there for the black students but the only thing that was missing in those HBCU's was the equality of resources and the equality of funding. The early years of the 1960s' were the years of a hoped integration of the races, Especially considering that 9 years earlier the United States Supreme Court had ruled that separate but equal was unconstitutional. However, every former Confederate State literally ignored this ruling; and when the court gave those states wiggle room with the 1956 ruling of all deliberate speed, integration of the public schools actually grounded to a halt.
This day is a time to reflect on how things have changed at the University of Alabama, although the percentage of African Americans in Alabama is 25%. There is only a percentage of 10% African American enrolled at the University of Alabama. Although, more than 80% of the starters on the university's football team are African-American, and 12 of the University's men's basketball team are African-American. Still, the state's HBCU's are suffering financially while Auburn and Alabama are still the bastions of consistency in terms of funding and resources. I wonder if George Corey Wallace would've stood at doors blocking integration knowing that he was possibly interfering with future athletic greatness of the University of Alabama's football dynasty? I am sure knowing how Wallace performed for his base. George Wallace would've had Paul "Bear" Bryant and he wearing the houndstooth hat saying roll tide!