A picture of Representative Terri A. Sewell
Terri S.
Democrat AL 7

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  • Honoring the Life and Legacy of James Hood: A Civil Rights Pioneer

    by Representative Terri A. Sewell

    Posted on 2013-01-23

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    SEWELL of alabama in the house of representatives Wednesday, January 23, 2013 Ms. SEWELL of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and pay tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. James Hood, one of the first African-Americans to attend The University of Alabama, who passed away Thursday, January 17 at the age of 70. Dr. Hood was a trailblazer in the quest for civil rights and equality. I am deeply saddened by his passing but I am comforted in knowing that his legacy will live on.



    Dr. Hood was born on November 10, 1942 in Gadsden, Alabama. He attended Gadsden public schools and he enrolled at the University of Alabama in 1963.

    On June 11, 1963, Dr. Hood along with fellow student Vivian Malone attempted to enroll at the University of Alabama. Upon his arrival to the Tuscaloosa campus, then Alabama Governor George Wallace physically blocked Dr. Hood from entering Foster Auditorium to register for classes. As the world watched, Gov. Wallace's efforts to block Dr. Hood and Ms. Malone were recorded in our Nation's history as ``The Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.'' Later that day, Dr. Hood, with the support of a federal court order and members of the Alabama National Guard, was eventually allowed to register for classes and pursue his degree.

    However, despite his bravery and courage, Dr. Hood's time as a student at the University of Alabama was short. On August 11, 1963, Dr. Hood left the University after numerous threats and constant harassment. He would later return to the University of Alabama in 1997 to obtain a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies.

    After his short time at the University of Alabama, Dr. Hood went on to obtain a bachelor's degree from Wayne State University and a master's degree from Michigan State. Dr. Hood also studied at the University of London. He later served as deputy police chief in Detroit and as a chairman of the police science program at the Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin before retiring in 2002. During his extraordinary life, Dr. Hood was also a devoted father to five children and nine grandchildren.

    Today, as we mourn the passing of this American hero, we are reminded of his sacrifices for our Nation. Dr. Hood's courage was a testament to his commitment to education and equality. On behalf of a grateful Nation, we honor Dr. Hood's personal sacrifices and commit to sharing his story with future generations.

    Today, ``The Stand in the Schoolhouse Door'' is remembered as a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Hood's quest for educational equality served as a catalyst for the opportunities that many of us enjoy today. As a benefactor of Dr. Hood's contributions, I am humbled by this opportunity to further solidify his place in American history. As the first African-American woman elected to Congress from the state of Alabama, I know that my journey would not be possible without the contributions of foot soldiers like Dr. Hood. Let his life serve as a testament to the courage and strength of one individual's ability to change the trajectory of our Nation. On behalf of the 7th Congressional District, the State of Alabama and this Nation, I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring the life and legacy of Dr. James Hood.

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