When I graduated from Phillips, I went to the University of Alabama as a Chemistry Major. I was madly in love at the time and determined to graduate as quickly as possible, so we could get married as soon as I graduated. Freshmen were not allowed to have cars on campus at that time, and I didn't have a car, anyway, so I rode the bus home every weekend to date. That meant I really didn't have a social life on campus. I went to class, studied my head off from a full class load, and slept. That was about it. I took classes in the summer at UAB and Samford in Birmingham, and even one by correspondence, so that I graduated in 3 years, instead of 4.
But integration caught up with me again in college. I was there when Governor Wallace made his famous Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, in an attempt to bar two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from entering the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963. I watched as Governor Wallace made his speech, then stepped aside, as the National Guard escorted them into Foster Auditorium to register. I could see the steps of Foster Auditorium from the windows of my dorm, which has long since been torn down.
I was supposed to go to classes on campus that summer, but Mama and Daddy remembered how much trouble there had been when Autherine Lucy had tried to enroll in 1956. So I went to Samford that summer, instead.
The University had made every effort to see to it that they would both be safe. James Hood was housed in the Athletic dorm, where the staff would be able to provide close supervision, and the athletes had every reason to follow the rules. Vivian was given a dorm monitor's suite, usually used by graduate students, so she would have her own bathroom. Both students were followed by guards everywhere on campus until it was no longer considered to be necessary.
There may have been some incidents on campus, but I don't remember any. The time was ripe for them to be there. All the girls who lived in dorms ate in the cafeteria in the dorm that Vivian lived in, so I did see her from time to time. I knew a few girls who were friends with her, but mostly I was too busy studying and going to classes and lots of labs to be involved with the whole deal. I do remember being in an elevator with her once on campus and feeling strange, like I should say something, but stupid, like why should I speak to a total stranger, black or white.
So my life continued to cross paths with the Civil Rights Movement, as it would again several more times.