George Wallace

Alabama Governor George Wallace - Defiantly standing in the way of history.

June 2, 1963 – George Wallace Meets The Press – Past Daily Reference Room

George Wallace
Alabama Governor George Wallace – Defiantly standing in the way of history.

June 2, 1963 – Governor George Wallace on Meet The Press – NBC Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

1963 would be a pivotal year in the history of the Civil Rights movement in America. At the center of it was a fiery segregationist, Alabama Governor George Wallace, whose defiant blocking of entrance at The University Of Alabama further cast a deep division among the American people especially those in the South.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy’s administration ordered the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Benning, Georgia to be prepared to enforce the racial integration of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. In a vain attempt to halt the enrollment of black students Vivian Malone and James Hood, Governor Wallace stood in front of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963. This became known as the “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door”.

In September 1963, Wallace attempted to stop four black students from enrolling in four separate elementary schools in Huntsville. After intervention by a federal court in Birmingham, the four children were allowed to enter on September 9, becoming the first to integrate a primary or secondary school in Alabama.

Wallace desperately wanted to preserve segregation. In his own words: “The President [John F. Kennedy] wants us to surrender this state to Martin Luther King and his group of pro-communists who have instituted these demonstrations.”

Wallace predicted, during a Milwaukee, Wisconsin speech on September 17, 1964, that the office-holding supporters of a civil rights bill would politically “bite the dust” by 1966 and 1968.

This interview on NBC’s Meet The Press comes right before the much publicized “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” and sums up the majority of the South’s attitudes toward the Civil Rights Movement, a movement that virtually defined (among other things) the turbulent political climate of the 1960s.

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