Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Reviews -- the Schoolhouse Door: Segregation's Last Stand at the University of Alabama by E. Culpepper Clark

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Reviews -- the Schoolhouse Door: Segregation's Last Stand at the University of Alabama by E. Culpepper Clark

Article excerpt

The author's primary objective in The Schoolhouse Door is to provide a detailed report of an incident that took place on June 11, 1963. On that date, Alabama Governor George C. Wallace physically blocked the entrance to Foster Auditorium on the campus of the University of Alabama (UA) to prevent Vivian Malone and James Hood from becoming the first Black students to enroll successfully at that institution. Wallace personally resisted their entry in direct defiance of Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, who, along with federal troops, was sent on behalf of the Kennedy Administration to force Alabama to accept court-ordered desegregation. While this particular episode, as a civil rights activity, was somewhat less dramatic than similar conflicts in other places in the South, the memory of "segregation's last stand" lingers in the minds of most Americans. It was an event that marked a particularly salient moment in modem American history, and one that gave the nation an unforgettable and powerful symbol of the struggle for racial justice. It also huned the University of Alabama into a proving ground for the civil rights movement.

Clark's efforts to relate the direness of the racial situation in the segregated South during the period leading up to the incident at the schoolhouse door, specifically that from 1952 to 1963, are laudable. Drawing upon both interviews and official records, he describes several events that preceded that fateful day in June 1963. He revives the stories of the many brave Black applicants who preceded Malone and Hood and of the hateful demonstrators and powerful politicians who defied their efforts. This includes, for example, the unsung and poorly organized attempt by civil rights workers to facilitate the cases of Autherine Lucy and Pollie Anne Myers, who applied for admission to UA in 1952. …

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