In The News

American civil rights pioneer James Hood passes away

American civil rights pioneer James Hood passes away

THE death has taken place of American civil rights pioneer James Hood. He was 70.

Mr. Hood had earned his place in the history of civil rights activism when on June 11, 1963, he and Vivian Malone walked up to the entrance of the University of Alabama intending to become the first black students at the institution.

In the doorway stood the then State Governor George Wallace accompanied by a number of State Troopers (see below). Mr. Wallace, who had been elected on his promise of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”, refused to let the would-be students pass.

The Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach then told Wallace to step aside, but the Governor refused. Mr. Katzenbach telephoned President John F. Kennedy who ordered the National Guard to clear the doorway.

Governor Wallace left the area after the arrival of the Guardsmen and Mr. Hood and Miss Malone were then allowed to register for classes.

Mr. Hood attended the university for only a few months before moving to Michigan to complete his studies. However, he returned to the University of Alabama in the mid-1990s to complete a doctorate in education. He had worked for many years at a technical college in Wisconsin.

The events of that day in June, 1963, are regarded as having been symbolically important in the campaign to sweep away racial segregation in the American south. Mr. Hood said he felt he had no choice but to make his stand (see below).

George Wallace would live to regret his actions on that infamous day. The former governor, who was left paralysed after surviving an assassination attempt in 1972, eventually apologised to Mr. Hood. In 1996 the pair met again when they shook hands in an act of reconciliation.

Mr. Hood, who passed away in his hometown of Gadsden in Alabama, had been the last surviving figure from the so-called ‘Stand In The Schoolhouse Door’ incident — George Wallace died in 1998 and Vivian Malone in 2005.

To view archive footage of the ‘Stand In The Schoolhouse Door’ incident, click here.

To see excerpts from an interview given by Mr. Hood, click here.

View previous In the News items: Tributes are paid to actress Sophiya Haque, Actor Conrad Bain passes away, Tributes are paid to teacher saved by Oskar Schindler, Crossword setter uses puzzle to reveal he is dying, Broadcaster and historian Robert Kee passes away, Tributes are paid to former fast food executive Fred Turner, Oldest man in Britain Reg Dean passes away, Listen with Mother presenter Daphne Oxenford passes away, Former British prisoner of war passes away, Singer Patti Page passes away, Actor Harry Carey Jnr passes away, Tributes are paid to soul singer Fontella Bass, Former England cricket captain Tony Greig passes away, Gulf War general Norman Schwarzkopf passes away, Tributes are paid to the creator of Thunderbirds, Record holding woman dies aged 115, Tributes are paid to former newsreader Kenneth Kendall, Inventor of the barcode passes away, Indian musician Ravi Shankar passes away, Tributes are paid to the inspirational engineer Alex Moulton, Astronomer and broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore passes away, Tributes are paid to former Hawkwind guitarist Huw Lloyd Langton, People pay last respects to hero of the Blitz, Jazz great Dave Brubeck passes away, Former Liverpool manager and player passes away, Death rate continues to fall in Northern Ireland, Tributes are paid to the man who put colour into digital photography, Organ transplant pioneer Joseph Murray passes away, Tributes are paid to TV star Larry Hagman, Australian author Bryce Courtenay passes away, Westminster Abbey honour announced for writer C S Lewis, Influential church musician Sir Philip Ledger passes away, Tributes are paid to the painter and sculptor William Turnbull, Retailer who helped Elvis with fashion advice passes away, Tributes are paid to photographer Alf Kumalo, Widow of poet TS Eliot passes away, Former governor of the Falkland Islands Sir Rex Hunt passes away, Former Coronation Street star Bill Tarmey passes away, Headstone is erected 94 years after burial of Portadown soldier, Tributes are paid to actor Clive Dunn, Funeral of Comber soldier Channing Day to take place, Funeral of murdered prison officer David Black takes place, Former racing driver John Fitch passes away, Tributes are paid to songwriter Bill Dees, Tributes are paid to musician Jo Dunne, Composer Hans Werner Henze passes away, Battle of Britain pilot William Walker passes away, Veteran US politician George McGovern passes away, Genius inventor Stanford Ovshinsky passes away, Former footballer Helmut Haller passes away or Tributes are paid to veteran MP Sir Stuart Bell


If you have a relative or a friend who has passed away and feel they should be mentioned in our In the News section, then please email us.