Local News

Wallace and Jones

Posted October 11, 1996 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Former Alabama Governor George Wallace barred the door to the University of Alabama 33 years ago in an attempt to prevent the admission of the school's first African-American student. Friday, the two met for the first time since that day in 1963 under very different circumstances.

Wallace presented Vivan Malone-Jones with an award for courage at a ceremony in Montgomery. It is the first award from the Wallace Foundation, formed in memory of Wallace's late wife.

Malone-Jones said she has vivid memories of that long-ago day, but has found her way to forgiveness.

Friday, Wallace said he was wrong to do what he did in 1963, but when a Deputy U.S. Attorney General ordered Wallace to allow Malone-Jones and another black student, James Hood, into the school, the then-governor was defiant.

Also in attendance Friday was Robert Kennedy, Jr., whose father was instrumental in bringing about the sort of civil rights legislation that led to Malone-Jones' and Hood's eventual entry into the formerly all-white school. Kennedy said he knew his father would have been happy to see the spirit of this reunion.

Hood also attended Friday's ceremony.

Wallace has been confined to a wheelchair since a would-be assassin's bullet paralyzed him during a run for the presidency.