In January of 1963, following his election as Governor of Alabama, George Wallace famously stated in his inaugural address: "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
On June 11, Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood pre-registered in the morning at the Birmingham courthouse. They selected their courses and filled out all their forms there. They arrived at Foster Auditorium to have their course loads reviewed by advisors and pay their fees. They remained in their vehicle as Wallace, attempting to uphold his promise as well as for political show, blocked the entrance to Foster Auditorium with the media watching.
When Wallace refused to budge, President John F. Kennedy called for 100 troops from the Alabama National Guard to assist federal officials. Four hours later, Guard General Henry Graham commanded Wallace to step aside, saying, "Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under the orders of the President of the United States." Wallace chose to step down rather than incite violence.
Crisis after crisis plagued America over the next few years, culminating in 1968 with the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, as well as mass rioting at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.
Today, 50 years removed from Wallace's protest, the University of Alabama's student body is 13 percent African American.