A man who helped integrate the University of Alabama has died. James Hood passed away yesterday in his hometown of Gadsden at the age of 70.
Hood wasn't the first black student to enroll or graduate from the University of Alabama, but his contributions helped open doors of opportunities for other minorities at the Capstone. He and Vivian Malone tried to enroll at the university in June of 1963.
Former Alabama governor George Wallace stopped them in what became known as the "stand in the school house door." Hood, who was 20 at the time, left a few months later and moved out of state. He returned to Alabama years later and earned his Ph.D. in 1997.
Several years ago, the school honored Hood, Malone and Autherine Lucy, the first black student to enroll at Alabama, with an honorary plaza next to Foster Auditorium, where Hood and the others ushered Alabama into the era of integration.
"Very few people are willing to risk their lives and their careers to do something that might benefit someone else," UA VP of Community Affairs Dr. Samory Pruitt said.
"At the same time, history is kinder now, but everyone wasn't pleased with the idea of integrating this institution. But as we look back 50 years, you can see that it actually made this university better," Pruitt said.
Funeral arrangements for Hood have not yet been finalized. The AP reports that Adams-Buggs Funeral Home in Gadsden will handle the arrangements.
Pruitt says at some point this year, the university will likely have a ceremony to mark the contributions and passing of James Hood.
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