James Hood Dies: Defied Wallace; Integrated U of Alabama

by: Aji

Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 16:32:40 PM EST



A hero left us yesterday Thursday.

 photo JamesHood2_zps389b7614.jpg
Photo credit:  The Birmingham News/Tamika Moore

James Hood, one of two African American students determined to attend the whites-only University of Alabama, has died at age 70.

 photo Vivian_Malone_zps44a7e670.jpg

In 1963, Mr. Hood and Vivian Malone defied Alabama's racist governor George Wallace, and a racist power structure and populace, to avail themselves of the right to a public college education.

Aji :: James Hood Dies: Defied Wallace; Integrated U of Alabama
It was a time that people growing up today can't even begin to imagine. It was the year of George Wallace's rancid speech pledging fealty to "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

 photo GeorgeWallace_zpsc5bf57a4.jpg

Five months later, Mr. Hood and Ms. Malone would force Wallace to eat those words in a very public way. But their decision, on June 11, 1963, to stand up for their rights by registering for classes, sparked Wallace's infamous declaration the he would "stand in the schoolhouse door" before he would allow African American students to enter.

As with Rosa Parks's ultimate refusal to surrender her seat on the bus, this was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It was carefully planned, and Mr, Hood and Ms. Malone were accompanied to the University by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, in an effort to ensure both their success and their safety.

When Katzenbach confronted him, Wallace refused to budge and began filibustering with all the racist rhetorical bluster he could summon. President Kennedy, in another act of heroism, federalized and then mobilized the Alabama National Guard, led by General Henry Graham, to escort Mr. Hood and Ms. Malone to register for classes.  Upon finding Wallace still blocking the door, General Graham advised him:  "Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under the orders of the President of the United States." Wallace filibustered a while longer, but eventually stepped aside.

Mr. Hood and Ms. Malone crossed the threshold of the University of Alabama auditorium . . . and the rest is history.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, James Hood wound up leaving the university after two months, transferring to another university to earn his degree. The pressure must have been lethal.

However, he wound up proving that determination and moral justice are not bound by any schedule, and returned to the university in the late 1990s to earn a doctorate. Reportedly, George Wallace had planned to be the one to award that degree to Mr. Hood, but his ill health prevented him from doing so. Mr. Hood, however, made publicly clear that he was convinced of the truth and honesty of Wallace's conversion - and publicly forgave Wallace for his earlier actions, even attending his funeral.

On November 3, 2010, a dedication ceremony took place at the University of Alabama: the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower and Malone-Hood Plaza at the Foster Auditorium. At the dedication, a photojournalist captured the meeting of Mr. Hood and Attorney General Eric Holder:

 photo HoodandHolder_zps09472975.jpg
Photo credit:  The Birmingham News file photo.

Today, on the wall of that auditorium, there hangs a plaque. Quoting James Hood, it says:  

"One person can make a difference if that one person is committed to making a difference."

James Hood was an ordinary man, and a great man; he epitomized what it means to be a hero. His life was a testament to courage, and strength, and honor, and forgiveness. We are all poorer today for his loss . . . but we are all richer for having had him make such a seminal difference in our country and our society.

Diarist's Note: Oh, the irony: The first link I opened was from a Tennessee news site, News Channel 9.  Prominently displayed in bright red and white on the left-hand sidebar next to the top of the main story, where it cannot be missed, is the title "Petition to Secede," followed by a link to "Tennessee" (asking that Tennessee be allowed to secede from the union and create its own government), and then a link to the main White House petition site. The more things change . . . .

Time for the people of Tennessee - and all the rest of us - to be committed to making a difference . . . and then to make that difference.

Cross-posted from the GOS, where it was posted Friday evening.

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Tips for a hero, a role model, a great man. (2.00 / 30)
May we all be so committed to making a difference.

[I'll be in and out this afternoon.  Someone has demanded sweetly requested blue-corn frybread, so I'll be periodically covered in dough.]

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Amen, Aji, amen. (2.00 / 17)


"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

Thanks, hon. n/t (2.00 / 17)


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[ Parent ]
Your diary look lovely in purple {{{Aji}}} (2.00 / 20)
I read it the other day - and was saddened to learn of James Hood's death. His courage and tenacity helped change history.

Blue-corn frybread? At your convenience, may we have the recipe? :)

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu


Thanks, darlin'. And, yes, he did change history. (2.00 / 18)
WRT the recipe, of course!  Do you already have a regular frybread recipe?  Because it's just a partial substitution, although the execution can sometimes get a bit tricky.

If not, I can send you both.

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[ Parent ]
Now you've scared me. (2.00 / 9)
the execution can sometimes get a bit tricky

I've never made frybread; in fact, I stopped baking when I moved to high altitude and realized how scary it is. I used to test recipes for America's Test Kitchen, but after an experience with raspberry filled brownies I turned in my apron.

Frybread, however, might be something I can do if I have sufficient direction. When can you come up here and teach me? Will you send me the recipe? :)

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu


[ Parent ]
LOL - maybe summer, if fire season cooperates? (2.00 / 9)
No, seriously - I can send it to you.  Or, if you think there's interest here, maybe I could do an occasional diary series on traditional recipes?  Never seemed like a good fit for the GOS, but I love cooking, and I like sharing our foods, too.  It also occurs to me that that would give room for explaining differences in, say, using a cast-iron skillet v. something else, and give people an easy way to ask questions.

And don't be scared.  I probably should've phrased it differently.  The trick with blue corn (or yellow corn) frybread is all in the proportions, because corn flour doesn't hold together as well as wheat flour, and is therefore both less manipulable and less stable.  So a lot depends on the effect you're trying to achieve.  What I did today was two parts blue corn flour to one part unbleached wheat flour, which comes out as a form of blue corn pah'wen, as his people call it.  Sort of like gorditas in Mexican restaurants - kind of a thicker, chewy corn tortilla, almost.  If you want just the flavor of the corn flour, you can use as little as a half-cup, to 2.5 cups of wheat flour.  That's much easier to work with.

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[ Parent ]
That's a great idea, Aji! (1.80 / 10)
They We talk about all kinds of things here - food, music, healthcare - whatever floats your boat. Do it!

And yes, please send me the recipe.

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu


[ Parent ]
Okay, will do. On both counts. :-) n/t (2.00 / 8)


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[ Parent ]
recipe? (2.00 / 7)
can you post it? Those of us at lower altitudes are interested, as well.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous

[ Parent ]
Probably tomorrow. (2.00 / 4)
Altitude isn't really an issue for this.  Just practice.  

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[ Parent ]
Second that idea! eom (2.00 / 7)


[ Parent ]
lots of foodies here (2.00 / 9)
I'd be interested and I'm sure they will be too.  

[ Parent ]
YES, YES, YES, Please. __!!_waves wildly over here on the sideline_!!__ (2.00 / 7)


[ Parent ]
Okay, will do. (2.00 / 5)
Probably tomorrow sometime.

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[ Parent ]
Thank you for posting in purple. (2.00 / 15)
Back to read later ...

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.


Thanks, Jan. n/t (2.00 / 14)


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[ Parent ]
Great diary. (2.00 / 17)
And a brave, heroic soul indeed.

RIP.

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.


Thanks, sricki. And yes, he was. n/t (2.00 / 16)


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[ Parent ]
Your note is where my heart breaks a little. It seemed, at the (2.00 / 17)
time, that we were going to actually make some progress. That someday with enough men and women willing to commit to making a difference we would learn to live together.

James Hood was a man of rare courage, thank you for your diary.

Only in the darkness can you see the stars - Martin Luther King, Jr


Mine did, too. (2.00 / 11)
But, you know, it was always going to be a VERY long-haul process.  That's the nature of fundamental shifts in human perception.  And we have changed a lot; just not nearly as much as we like to think (congratulate ourselves that) we have.

I won't live to see it get to that point.  But I can try to keep doing my part to ensure that, for some future generation, they WILL actually live to see it.

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[ Parent ]
Thank you for honoring this gracious and great man, Aji. (2.00 / 16)
Love the way you summed up Mr. Hood's life:

James Hood was an ordinary man, and a great man; he epitomized what it means to be a hero. His life was a testament to courage, and strength, and honor, and forgiveness.

And thanks for giving me an excuse to re-read your diary today.

One person can make a difference if that one person is committed to making a difference. - James Hood


You wear that sig line well, is it new? :P But in all seriousness, (2.00 / 13)
it's a wonderful tribute to a humble hero.

Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.
                       - Bertolt Brecht


[ Parent ]
Oh, wow - I completely missed that! (2.00 / 11)
Wouldn't it be cool if we could all make that our RL sigs?  And then act upon it accordingly, of course.

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[ Parent ]
Thanks :-) (2.00 / 11)
I read Aji's diary on Friday, quoted that line in a comment I posted there, and came on over to make it my 1st sig line here.

I like your characterization of James Hood:

humble hero


One person can make a difference if that one person is committed to making a difference. - James Hood

[ Parent ]
Let us try to follow his example. eom (2.00 / 6)


[ Parent ]
Thanks, honey. (2.00 / 10)
That, to me, said it all.  Especially this weekend, with President Obama's historic inauguration (and the invocation being given by Myrlie Evers-Williams!) and the formal holiday honoring Dr. King.

I can only try, in my small way, to live up to what he (and they) have accomplished for good in this world.

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[ Parent ]
So glad to read this here, I didn't get to it at the other place. So (2.00 / 10)
thanks for posting this. I'm off to bed soon, so g'night everyone.  

Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.
                       - Bertolt Brecht


You're welcome, and good night! n/t (2.00 / 9)


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[ Parent ]
Thank you so much for this wonderful tribute. (2.00 / 11)
One person can change the world. I remember this happening. I was in about 6th or 7th grade at the time.

Thanks, bjm! Good to see you, too. :-) (2.00 / 11)
Yes, one person.  One person who's committed to making a difference.  If there's a better lesson for me at the start of the new year, I don't know what it is.

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[ Parent ]
Lovely eulogy to a great man who... (2.00 / 9)
...until I read your diary I knew shamefully little about.

It seems my comment to you just now was irrelevant

http://www.motleymoose.com/sho...

The pace here is reliant on the community. Diaries have a half life of days rather than hours - so you wouldn't be stepping on anyone's toes. Often diaries get frontpaged by one of the editors, for discussion, or just because they're good and look good.

Major tip for those coveting an FP spot: a nice image above the fold is vital, and if you find one yourself you'll be the apple of the editors' eyes.

You knew what to do implicitly before I'd even commented and... hey presto... you're on the front page.

Great job. I look forward to seeing more of your stuff my fellow Mooz*

*Aji first told us about the native American origins of the name a year or so back.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'


LOL - just went and refreshed the main page, and . . . wait, what? (2.00 / 7)
I thought I clicked the wrong link. :-D

But thank you, Peter.  I'm honored.

And, yeah, I like to use a photo or two at the top, if I have one that fits.

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[ Parent ]
Beautiful tribute, Aji. (2.00 / 8)
And thank you, Mr. Hood, to you and a family who raised and supported you well.

This half-century after the events that led to Mr. Hood's deserved fame mark a quantum in time which - while arbitrary in length - are cause to reflect not only on where we have come from but how far we have traveled.

It was a time that people growing up today can't even begin to imagine.

This is blessedly true. It was, in fact, the hopes of those like Mr. Hood at the time that there would come a day when this statement would be true. That people growing up would not be able to imagine the world they lived in, then.

While the struggle for equal rights and respect is not over, it is important in any such struggle to note the changing shape of the effort. My brother, my wife and many of my friends were born in that same year that Gov. Wallace stood in a doorway publicly uttering vileness. Those our age were literally the infants born on the days the great moments of the civil rights movement occurred, we were the babies Mr. Hood and so many others hoped would grow up in a world which could not even being to imagine their own.

But, in the fullness of time, even that same Governor came to see the error of his ways. I trust Mr. Hood, being in a much better position than I to judge the veracity of that fact.

Mr. Hood, however, made publicly clear that he was convinced of the truth and honesty of Wallace's conversion - and publicly forgave Wallace for his earlier actions, even attending his funeral.

We have to allow those around us to change if we are to gain our own freedom. We have to let them attain their freedom from the walls they do not see.

"I wear the chain I forged in life....I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it."

Mr. Hood not only freed himself and those who were, like him, barred from equal participation in society. He freed those who stood against him from the cells they had imprisoned themselves in. He freed me, he freed Donna, he freed my brother and all of our peers from being bound into the chains of those who came before us.

Dr. King in his seminal I have a Dream speech in Washington DC only two months later shared that vision. While he brooked no question that the fight for justice was for people of color, he made clear in that most contentious time that the ultimate goal would be the final freedom for all of us.

...for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

Thank you, Mr. Hood, for giving me and my children our freedom.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


Great diary, thanks (2.00 / 6)
Born in 1957, this was all happening when I was a child. We watched it on television. It was frightening to me.  

Humility and courage. That's what always stood out about him. (2.00 / 6)
Thank you for honoring him, Aji.

Thanks for this post, Aji. (2.00 / 5)
I've started and cancelled comments a number of times...

these are the times and events of my adolescence, and they can even 30-40 years later be tough to face.

When I was in college at Auburn, I saw George Wallace reelected (and I have his signature on a diploma). I went with a friend and school photojournalist to Wallace's reelection party, and I was amazed at the number of African Americans cheering him on.

Educational barriers were tough indeed.  Integration of public schools has helped: the younger generations are clearly more accepting.  On the other hand, that particular event (which sparked hostile protests not only in Nashville but also in Boston) seemed to have provided energy for private fundamentalist Christian schools (in the south at least) for the white suburban kids to avoid interaction with "the other."  I'd like to see data on the growth of Christian education in the south and whether or not it correlates with GOP voting patterns therein.

Just reading this fine tribute makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up a little.


I didn't know you went to Auburn. :-) (2.00 / 4)
I know what you mean about it making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  just seeing the photos again induces all kinds of physical sensations, in a way that a lot of people can't begin to understand.

And Boston!  Yeah, that was ugly.  Still is in a lot of the city and environs, for that matter.  It was present in Michigan, too, although not on the radar of the national media in the same way.  And I think what was most shocking to me was returning to MI as an adult . . . what? 25 years ago, maybe? and finding that, for the entire time I was to continue living there, the attitudes hadn't shifted noticeably (and continued NOT to shift).  Oh, some of it wasn't openly displayed so much anymore, but when folks thought they were alone with what they assumed to be like-minded people, the venom came pouring out like a toxic river.

and I think your point about Xtian fundamentalism is dead-on - in fact, coming from MY family, I KNOW it is.  But not just in the South.  Again, they flew largely below the radar of the culture zeitgeist, but they've been a rock-solid presence since the real uptick in the whole "born again" movement of the '70s (which was simply the po-mo manifestation of the Nazarene/Free Methodist fundy "sinners in the hands of an angry God" movement).

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[ Parent ]
man, these things can be hard to talk about. (2.00 / 3)
In TN, the boom was in Church of Christ (Campellite) and Baptist schools, as I recall. I was yanked from public school and put into Church of Christ school, as my parents feared for my safety in being bussed across town.  Hardest part of that was we were Episcopalian... not exactly a good fit.  That's at least one whole diary in and of itself.

And on the still ugly, yeah.  I go back to TN pretty regularly.  There's a lot to love, and a lot not to.  Racism (like a lot of things) can be very subtle in the South.  Sure, it's easy to round up a few "Larry the Cable Guy" looking hicks and have 'em spew... but many Southerners can be very coy around folks "not from around here."  If they sense you're one of them, though, you may learn things that can't be unlearned.  I do think it's better that when I grew up.  Heck, when I was at Auburn, the first African American got on the cheerleading squad.  It was an enormous controversy as to whether or not he'd have a white female partner.  Gawd.  At least we're over that (which is almost like saying at least we've gotten past cannibalism).


[ Parent ]
Hard to talk about or not, you always manage to make me laugh, bubba. (2.00 / 3)
LMAO @ "gotten past cannibalism."

It's a different kind of funny, though, to see that your experience seems to have been (maybe still is when you go "home?") a lot like mine.  Better, but nowhere near enough, I guess.

So, did they give him a [white] female partner? :-D

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[ Parent ]
the answer to your question is no. (2.00 / 3)
he was the guy without a partner... I guess the wealthy alums who ran the show couldn't bear the thought of a black man putting his hands on a white woman.

better but nowhere near enough indeed.  I was not a fraternity member, but I had several close friends in Beta Theta Pi.  In 2001, they had their charter suspended for some kind of terrible behavior at a halloween party.  One member wore the shirt of an all-black fraternity, painted himself in blackface, and put a noose around his neck. There were posed scenes of lynching.  This was just 10 years ago.  


[ Parent ]
I remember reading about that incident. (2.00 / 2)
And a few others, even more recently.

I also wish I could say I was surprised by the cheerleader decision, but I'm not.  I remember reading of an incident back in '92 (I know the year, because it was the same year as Buchanan's Godwinning of the GOP Convention) involving a high-school wrestling team (Virginia or NC, IIRC). Some of the white parents didn't want their precious snowflakes wrestling with the Black kid on the team, because, as one white mother put it, she had nothing against Black people; she just didn't want his sweat against her son's skin.

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[ Parent ]
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