James Hood Dies: Man Who Defied Segregation In Alabama Passes At 70

One of the first black students at the University of Alabama, James Hood, has died. Hood, 70, was one of the students who entered the school in defiance of racial segregation 50 years ago.

Hood, along with Vivian Malone, made headlines in 1963 when the entered the university accompanied by Deputy US Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach.

Yahoo! News reports that then-Alabama Governor George Wallace attempted to stop the pair by making his “stand in the schoolhouse door.” The effort failed and Hood and Malone walked in the university’s Foster Auditorium later that day to register for classes and pay their fees.

Hood was remembered by US President Judy Bonner as a man of “courage and conviction.” Bonner added:

“His connection to the university continued decades later when he returned to UA to earn his doctorate in 1997. He was a valued member of The University of Alabama community, and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

Before he died on Thursday, James Hood was the last survivor among the major figures of the schoolhouse door incident. Wallace passed away in 1998, while Vivian Malone Jones lost her life in 2005. Katzenbach died in 2012.

ABC News notes that Hood stayed at UA for a few months before he moved to Michigan and transferred to Wayne State University, where he earned his bachelor’s.

Culpepper Clark, author of The Schoolhouse Door: Segregation’s Last Stand at the University of Alabama, called Hood a man with a lot of “intellectual integrity” who understood how important his stand at UA was. Clark added, “He didn’t try to make it into more than what it was.”

Samory Pruitt, vice president of community affairs at UA, applauded Hood’s work in Alabama. Pruitt, who is black, stated:

“Because of what he did, people like me were afforded the opportunity to go to the University of Alabama. I think it’s about people having the opportunity to be the best they can be.”

James Hood died on Thursday in Gadsden, Alabama. Funeral arrangement are being handled by Adams-Buggs Funeral Home in Gadsden.