1963 September 10

Alabama Fights School Integration; JFK Mobilizes National Guard


Alabama Gov. George Wallace on this day said he would obey a federal court restraining order forbidding him from interfering with the racial integration of Alabama public schools, but nonetheless pledged to continue to fight court-ordered desegregation of Alabama public schools with his “bare hands.” President John F. Kennedy had mobilized the Alabama National Guard to enforce integration. Wallace denounced the move as “another long step toward a military dictatorship.” For the moment, however, he said he would obey court orders and continue to fight integration in the courts.

Earlier in the year, Wallace had pledged to “stand on the school house door” to fight the integration of the University of Alabama. On June 11, 1963, he staged a symbolic protest by briefly blocking the integration of the university before stepping aside; in anticipation of that event, President Kennedy had also mobilized the Alabama National Guard.

Learn more: Dan T. Carter, The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics (1995)

Watch Wallace’s famous “segregation forever” speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMDWov-kGcQ

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