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Minuteman Minute | Maj. Gen. Graham Opens the Door

In 1963, when Alabama Governor George Wallace refused to desegregate the University of Alabama, President Kennedy turned to the Alabama National Guard, federalizing them. Major General Henry Graham, Alabama’s Adjutant General, confronted Wallace, who finally stepped aside and African American students were able to register for classes.

Hi, I’m Will Roulett, Director of the National Guard Memorial Museum, here in DC, and this is YOUR Minuteman Minute! This photograph shows Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach as he confronted Alabama Governor George Wallace in June of 1963 at the schoolhouse door of the University of Alabama. Although the Supreme Court decision in Brown versus Board of Education 9 years earlier deemed racial segregation in schools unconstitutional, the University and Wallace still refused to comply. After this photo was taken, Katzenbach reported to President Kennedy that Wallace would not step aside. Kennedy then federalized the Alabama National Guard and the state’s Adjutant General Henry Graham confronted Wallace. Graham saluted Wallace before saying, “Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under the orders of the President of the United States.” Wallace finally complied and the University’s first two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, registered for classes. Come see this and a whole lot more at the National Guard Memorial Museum. I’m Will Roulett [Look at watch.] and that’s been your Minuteman Minute brought to you by the National Guard Educational Foundation.