Friday, October 14, 2005

John Kerry on the Passing of Vivian Malone Jones

Senator John Kerry issued the following statement on the passing of Vivian Malone Jones:

"Today we live in an America where we can take it for granted when millions of African Americans register for college classes without facing death threats. It's too easy for some to forget a very different time in America when two extraordinary two high school graduates named Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood had to put their lives on the line and help break the backbone of segregation just to register for college classes. Today we each need to take a moment to remember that in 1963 at the University of Alabama, two African-American students' simple wish to earn a college degree from an accredited, whites-only institution was unthinkable -- almost.

"On the morning of June 11 of that year, Vivian Malone Jones, who passed away yesterday, and James Hood walked up to Foster Auditorium to register for their first classes at UA. There they were confronted by none other than the Governor George C. Wallace, who blocked them from entering with his infamous promise to 'stand in the schoolhouse door'. "Fortunately, the federal government demonstrated courage rare for that period in our history, and intervened to allow these students to register. For Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood the fight was just beginning. Their academic years were not always pleasant. They stood up to racism and bigotry with quiet, steely resolve every day, and Vivian Malone Jones defied those who sought to deny her equal opportunity and graduated in 1965 with a degree in business management. "In her life that followed, she was a shining example of the power and endurance of the human spirit. She went on to work for the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and served as director of civil rights and urban affairs and director of environmental justice for the Environmental Protection Agency. Most poignantly, many years after she faced its namesake at the schoolhouse door, the George Wallace Family Foundation chose Jones to be the first recipient of its Lurleen B. Wallace Award of Courage.

"Remembering and reflecting on the courage of those we have lost is important to maintaining and furthering the progress of the Civil Rights Movement. We mourn the loss of Vivian Malone Jones today with great sympathy for her family and all those whose lives she touched. Her legacy is alive every time -- without controversy, without threats of violence, without fear -- a young African American can walk through those schoolhouse doors and realize the promise of the American Dream and the real meaning of equal opportunity."


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