Vivian Malone Jones

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Vivian Malone Jones

Vivian Juanita Malone Jones (born July 15, 1942 in Mobile; died October 13, 2005 in Atlanta, Georgia) was one of the first two African Americans to enroll at the University of Alabama in 1963, made famous when Governor George Wallace blocked them from enrolling at the all-white university. She was later the Director of Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and Director of Environmental Justice for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jones, already a student at Alabama A&M University, wanted to transfer to the University of Alabama to study accounting. She and James Hood won permission to enroll by order District Court Judge Harlan Grooms. Their intention provided Wallace with an opportunity to make a symbolic "stand" to prevent integration. The standoff was orchestrated in advance through negotiations between the governor's office and the office of the Attorney General of the United States.

Malone registering for classes at University of Alabama

On June 11, 1963 Wallace stood in front of the university's Foster Auditorium and delivered a short speech in support of state sovereignty. Malone arrived to pay her fees, accompanied by James Hood and U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach. As he had promised in his campaign, Wallace, backed by Alabama State Troopers, refused them entry. Katzenbach asked him to step aside, and Wallace refused, citing the constitutional right of states to control the operations of their public universities.

After a telephone call from Katzenbach, President Kennedy nationalized the Alabama National Guard the same day. Guardsmen escorted Malone and Hood back to the auditorium, and this time Wallace moved aside at the request of General Henry Graham. Malone and Hood then entered the building, albeit through another door.

As a student, Malone experienced shunning and disrespect, but no physical violence. Two years later, she became the first African American to graduate from the University. She received a bachelor of arts in business management and joined the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice, working on voter education. Not long afterward she moved to Atlanta to take a position with the Environmental Protection Agency, and was named director of civil rights and urban affairs for her regional office. She helped pioneer the concept of environmental justice in the agency before she retired in 1996.

In October 1996, she was chosen by the George Wallace Family Foundation to be the first recipient of its "Lurleen B. Wallace Award of Courage". At the ceremony, Wallace said, "Vivian Malone Jones was at the center of the fight over states' rights and conducted herself with grace, strength and, above all, courage."1. In 2000, the University of Alabama bestowed on her a doctorate of humane letters. The University funds a "Vivian Malone Jones Scholarship" and a portrait of her hangs in the College of Commerce and Business Administration.

Jones died at the age of 63 of complications from a stroke. Her funeral services were held at the Martin Luther King, Jr International Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta. She was married to Mack Jones, a physician, who died in 2004. She was survived by a son, a daughter, three grandchildren, four sisters and three brothers. She was a faithful member of From the Heart Church Ministries of Atlanta where she served as an usher. She was the sister-in-law of Eric Holder, the current U.S. Attorney General.

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