James Hood

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James Alexander Hood (born November 10, 1942 in Gadsden; died January 17, 2013 in Gadsden) was one of the first African American students to enroll at the University of Alabama.

Hood was one of eight children born to Octavie and Margaret Hughs Hood of Gadsden. He was educated in the Gadsden Public School System and graduated from Gadsden's Carver High School in 1961. He began his undergraduate studies at Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia before making the decision to enroll at the previously all-White University of Alabama.

On June 11, 1963, Governor George Wallace made his infamous "stand in the schoolhouse door." He stood in the front entrance of Foster Auditorium in an attempt to stop the enrollment of Hood and Vivian Malone. When confronted by U.S. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and federal marshals sent in by U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Wallace stepped aside. Later in his life, Wallace apologized to Hood for his opposition to racial integration.

As a member of the school's committee for desegregation, Melford Espey, the first "Big Al", was asked by the administration to help welcome Malone and Hood to the campus. Nevertheless, in the charged climate, Hood dropped out of school after two months. He moved to Michigan and enrolled at Wayne State University, where he completed his bachelor's degree. While working at the Ford Motor Company he earned a Master's in criminal justice at Michigan State University in 1972, then entered the Detroit Police Department where he was eventually promoted to Deputy Chief. He also served as pastor of Boulevard Temple Methodist Episcopal Church.

Hood studied at the University of London, and returned to Tuscaloosa to complete a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1997. He later moved to Madison, Wisconsin where he joined the staff of the Madison Area Technical College. He trained police, fire and rescue personnel there and retired as chair of the public safety department in 2002.

Hood died in January 2013. He was survived by five siblings, five children and nine grandchildren. He is buried at Pleasant Gap Cemetery in Gadsden.


  • Clark, E. Culpepper (1993) The Schoolhouse Door: Segregation's Last Stand at the University of Alabama. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195074173
  • "Hood, one of first African-Americans to enroll at UA, dies." (January 17, 2013) Gadsden Times
  • "Dr. James Alexander Hood" obituary. Adams-Buggs Funeral Service - accessed January 22, 2013