June 11, 1963
In 1956, Autherine Lucy took the first steps toward the desegregation of the University, becoming the first African-American student to be accepted and enrolled. Because of significant unrest on campus, her initial enrollment lasted only three days. After UA administration told her that the school could no longer protect her, she was suspended and later expelled.
Successful desegregation at UA did not happen until June 11, 1963, the day Malone and Hood were to enroll. Alabama Governor George C. Wallace stationed himself in the doorway of Foster Auditorium in an unsuccessful attempt to block them from gaining entry. Acting on the authority of President John F. Kennedy, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, accompanied by federal marshals and the Alabama National Guard, confronted Wallace and asked him to allow Malone and Hood to enter. Wallace refused.
When Attorney General Robert Kennedy learned of Wallace’s refusal to allow the students inside Foster Auditorium, he authorized sending the National Guard to remove Wallace. In the face of these officers, Wallace complied and stepped aside from the auditorium doorway. Malone and Hood enrolled without further incident. Although Hood transferred to another university shortly afterward, Malone became the first African-American student to earn a degree from UA in 1965.
The Board of Trustees overturned Autherine Lucy Foster’s expulsion in 1988. A year later, she again enrolled at the University, joining her daughter, Grazia Foster, who was also a student at the Capstone at the time. They graduated together in 1992 with Autherine earning a master’s degree in elementary education and Grazia earning a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance.
Progress at UA continues
The University has continued to make significant progress in diversity since that time. Minority undergraduate enrollment has risen 70 percent in the past two decades, and, minority graduate enrollment has climbed 140 percent. At present, minority students represent more than 12.4 percent of UA’s student
In developing plans to commemorate and honor the legacy of Foster, Jones and Hood, the University invited feedback from faculty, staff, students and the community. The thoughtful and heartfelt responses that were received, both from open forums and written messages, provided many excellent ideas and were responsible for revisions to the original plans for Malone-Hood Plaza, including the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower. The 40-foot-tall brick tower, with open arches and four large bronze plaques at its base, tells the story of Autherine Lucy Foster, James Hood and Vivian Malone Jones and the courage they displayed in breaking down barriers and in opening doors.