The Schoolhouse Door
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The Schoolhouse Door : Segregation's Last Stand at the University of Alabama

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On June 11, 1963, in a dramatic gesture that caught the nation's attention, Governor George Wallace physically blocked the entrance to Foster Auditorium on the University of Alabama's campus. His intent was to defy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, sent on behalf of the Kennedy administration to force Alabama to accept court-ordered desegregation. After a tense confrontation, President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard and Wallace backed down, allowing Vivian Malone and James Hood to become the first African Americans to enroll successfully at their state's flagship university. That night, John F. Kennedy went on television to declare civil rights a "moral issue" and to commit his administration to this cause. That same night, Medgar Evers was shot dead. In The Schoolhouse Door, E. Culpepper Clark provides a riveting account of the events that led to Wallace's historic stand, tracing a tangle of intrigue and resistance that stretched from the 1940s, when the university rejected black applicants outright, to the post-Brown v. Board of Education era. In these pages, full of courageous black applicants, fist-shaking demonstrators, and powerful politicians, Clark captures the dramatic confrontations that transformed the University of Alabama into a proving ground for the civil rights movement and gave the nation unforgettable symbols for its struggle to achieve racial justice.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 156 x 234.4 x 27.4mm | 612.11g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195096584
  • 9780195096583

Back cover copy

This is the story of how the University of Alabama experienced the end of segregation and how events on that campus influenced both the civil rights movement and massive resistance to the changes it promised. It is the story of two confrontations, the Autherine Lucy episode and the stand in the schoolhouse door, confrontations that transformed Tuscaloosa into an international dateline and gave the nation symbols for an age of moral struggle. It is the story of courageous black applicants and reactionary trustees, lawyers and judges, of cautious university officials, fist-shaking demonstrators and fiery crosses; of brave, bewildered students and their worried parents; of powerful men and their low cunning, also of high-minded men and women struggling almost without hope; and, in the end, of George Wallace, whose confrontation with the Kennedys changed America's political landscape. For all its drama, no one dies in this story. Behind these scenes violence simmers, but no one dies.show more

Review quote

This is a book about threats, intimidation, courage, perseverance, and the morality of an old and rotten way of life finally giving way. The story moves from the national politics of the Kennedy's confrontations with George Wallace to Wallace's artfully orchestrated public surrender and the impact of the transformation of the base of the Democratic Party in the Southern states as a result. This is a story of high drama about the human spirit and how Lucy's religious faith sustained her through the turmoil and racist threats. The author's research is carefully documented and his access to Lucy is evident. More important, the author clearly identifies the forces of racism, anti-democracy and ignorance. He names names, he discloses the betrayals, and he pierces the hypocrisies of the politicians and leaders who failed. * Nashville Banner *show more

About E.Culpepper Clark

E. Culpepper Clark is Executive Assistant to the President at the University of Alabama, where he is also Professor with appointments in Speech Communication and History. He is the author of Francis Warrington Dawson and the Politics of Restoration: South Carolina, 1874-1889.show more

Rating details

6 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 17% (1)
4 67% (4)
3 17% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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