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This Week in Universal News: The University of Alabama is Desegregated, 1963

by on June 9, 2014


On June 11, 1963, Vivian Malone and James Hood arrived at the University of Alabama to register for summer classes. Instead of a helpful low-level administrator guiding them through the process, it took the National Guard to ensure their enrollment– George Wallace, the governor of their state, was blocking the door. Wallace’s “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” was the fulfillment of a campaign promise to prevent the desegregation of schools in Alabama. After hundreds of other qualified African-American applicants were denied admission, Hood and Malone were carefully selected to be the first break the color barrier. They were fully aware of the risk they were taking, but courageously showed up on that June day anyway to forge a path for other African-Americans to pursue an equal education. Vivian Malone graduated from the University of Alabama in 1965 and went on to a long career in public service. James Hood moved on to another school to finish his bachelor’s degree, but returned to the University of Alabama in 1995 to complete a doctorate.

From the release sheet:

ALABAMA STORY: NEGROES ENROLLED AS GOVERNOR YIELDS: The University of Alabama campus is under tight security guard as Governor George Wallace confronts a deputy U.S. Attorney. The Federal officers are armed with a proclamation urging the Governor to end his efforts to prevent two Negro students from registering. He stands firm and President Kennedy Federalizes the National Guard. When they move in, the Governor bows to Presidential authority and James Hood and Vivian Malone become the first two Negroes to be registered at the University. That night the President appealed to the Nation, saying the United States is facing a “moral crisis” and that it is the duty of all to uphold the law.

You may view the complete newsreel, which also includes a French airshow and a look back to D-Day, here.

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Vivian Malone walks past a throng of reporters to register for summer classes at the University of Alabama.

About the Universal Newsreel Collection at NARA:

The Universal Newsreel Collection is one of the most used motion picture collections at the National Archives and Records Administration. Universal Newsreels were shown in movie theaters twice a week, from 1929 until 1967, and covered a wide range of American life and history during that time period. Each release usually contained five to seven stories averaging two minutes in length.

In 1974, Universal deeded its edited newsreel and outtake collection to the United States through the National Archives (NARA), and did not place any copyright restrictions on its use (some stories may contain other underlying intellectual property or proprietary use rights).

While Universal disposed of many of the soundtracks, leaving the newsreels incomplete, supplementary material like scripts, shot lists, and event programs can be found in the production files, available for research at Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

Learn more about the Universal Newsreel Collection in this post and in this Prologue article. Watch other Universal Newsreels in our research room, in OPA, and on this playlist.


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