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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) – Remembering the day that changed the world.
Tuesday marked the 50-year anniversary of racial integration at the University of Alabama.
People in Tuscaloosa commemorated the day that marked a turning point in Alabama and the Civil Rights Movement when then-Governor George Wallace tried to physically prevent the University of Alabama from integrating.
The university held a special ceremony to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the stand in the schoolhouse door.
The doors to foster auditorium were wide open for a diverse group of visitors of all backgrounds Tuesday. It was a much different story when George Wallace stood in the doorway in 1963- to try to keep the first two African-American UA students out.
First generation college student Tyler Merriweather credits the courage of Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood with paving the way for him to attend the University of Alabama.
“I know that by being here I’m living the dream of many African-Americans. I know that by being here it shows those who have fought for me who have paved the way for me that their work has not been in vain,” said Merriweather.
Governor Robert Bentley remembers watching the events unfold that day while he was a University of Alabama student.
“Fifty years ago today I was right here, in fact I was a student and I stood across the street. I came, I came and we stood the, the students that were with me, my friends, now they asked me to leave and so we did we moved down the street. They told me I was going to be arrested if we didn’t leave so we moved down the street, but we watched what went on that day,” said Governor Bentley. “We didn’t realize at that time that we were seeing history take place….”
“I think it’s important that a Governor is willing to say I was there 50 years ago and how far we’ve come,” he continued.
Governor Bentley says two future governors were watching when George Wallace stood on the wrong side of history on that fateful day in 1963. He says former Alabama Governor Bob Riley was also a University of Alabama student at the time.