The University of Alabama

The Autherine Lucy Clock Tower and the Malone-Hood Plaza to be Dedicated Nov. 3

The Malone-Hood Plaza and the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower

Foster Auditorium stands as the location of one of the most important, historic events at The University of Alabama, representing the beginning of our steady progress toward the diverse campus community we celebrate today. The dedication of the Malone-Hood Plaza and the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower, scheduled for Nov. 3, will pay tribute to the three individuals whose determination and courage became the catalyst for that progress.

Autherine Lucy

Events throughout the day will honor Autherine Lucy Foster, James Hood and the late Vivian Malone Jones, the three African-American students whose enrollment repre- sented the University’s first steps toward desegregation. A panel discussion at 9 a.m. in Ferguson Center will feature Foster and Hood and a member of Vivian Malone Jones’ family. Dr. E. Culpepper Clark, former dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences and author of the book “The Schoolhouse Door: Segregation’s Last Stand at The University of Alabama,” will moderate. Students, faculty and staff are invited to attend the panel discussion, and to hear history discussed by the people who made it.

The University’s students, faculty and staff will join Autherine Lucy Foster and James Hood and their families, and the family of Vivian Malone Jones for the dedication ceremony, which will be held at 1 p.m. in the Malone-Hood Plaza. Coresa Nancy Hogan, president of UA’s Black Student Union, and James Fowler, SGA president, will co-host the event. The community at large is invited to a 2 p.m. celebration at the plaza, hosted by the Black Faculty and Staff Association and including musical performances every half hour through 3 p.m.

Vivian Malone

In 1956, Autherine Lucy took the first steps toward the desegration of the University, becoming the first African-American student to be accepted and enrolled. Because of significant unrest on campus, her initial enrollment lasted only three days. After UA administration told her that the school could no longer protect her, she was suspended and later expelled.

Successful desegregation at UA did not happen until June 11, 1963, the day Malone and Hood were to enroll. Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace stationed himself in the doorway of Foster Auditorium in an unsuccessful attempt to block them from gaining entry. Acting on the authority of President John F. Kennedy, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, accompanied by federal marshals and the Alabama National Guard, confronted Wallace and asked him to allow Malone and Hood to enter. Wallace refused.

When Attorney General Robert Kennedy learned of Wallace’s refusal to allow the students inside Foster Auditorium, he authorized sending the National Guard to remove Wallace. In the face of these officers, Wallace complied and stepped aside from the auditorium door- way. Malone and Hood enrolled without further incident. Although Hood transferred to another university shortly afterward, Malone became the first African-American student to earn a degree from UA in 1965.

James Hood

The Board of Trustees overturned Autherine Lucy Foster’s expulsion in 1988. A year later, she again enrolled at the University, joining her daughter, Grazia Foster, who was also a student at the Capstone at the time. They graduated together in 1992 with Autherine earning a master’s degree in elementary education and Grazia earning a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance.

The University has continued to make significant progress in diversity since that time. Minority undergraduate enrollment has risen 70 percent in the past two decades, and minority graduate enrollment has climbed 140 percent.

At present African-American students represent 12.4 percent of UA’s student body. In developing plans to commemorate and honor the legacy of Foster, Jones and Hood, the University invited feedback from faculty, staff, students and the community. The thoughtful and heartfelt responses that were received, both from open forums and written messages, provided many excellent ideas and were responsible for revisions to the original plans for Malone-Hood Plaza, including the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower. The 40-foot-tall brick tower, with open arches and four large bronze plaques at its base, tells the story of Autherine Lucy Foster, James Hood and Vivian Malone Jones and the courage they displayed in breaking down barriers and in opening doors.

For more information about Malone-Hood Plaza, Foster Auditorium and the key individuals who played a role in its history, please visit malonehoodplaza.ua.edu.

The ceremony will be streamed live over the UA home page. To view it, go to ua.edu.