University Desegregation

View item information

WSB-TV newsfilm clip of students debating integration at the University of Georgia following the court-ordered admission of African American students Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes in Athens, Georgia, 1961 January

On January 6, 1961, federal Judge W. A. Bootle ordered the admission of Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter to the University of Georgia, creating a crisis since state legislators had forbidden support of integrated schools. Order prevailed until January 11, when an angry mob gathered outside Hunter's dormitory. State officials condemned the rioters and repealed the laws barring support of integrated schools.

On September 30, 1962, riots erupted at the University of Mississippi where segregationists protested the enrollment of African American air force veteran James Meredith. Despite the presence of 120 federal marshals, the crowd turned violent, with two civilians killed and scores injured.  Meredith registered for classes the following morning, and became the first African American graduate in August 1963.

On May 16, 1963, a federal district court ordered the University of Alabama to admit African American students Vivian Malone and James Hood, ensuring a showdown between federal authorities and Governor George Wallace who had promised to prevent integration by standing in the schoolhouse door. On June 11, Wallace temporarily blocked the students' entrance to Foster Auditorium. Although he yielded when President Kennedy federalized Alabama's National Guard, Wallace earned a nationwide reputation for white resistance.