On 11 June 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in the doorway of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama to block integration of the University. The Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 deemed segregated public schools unconstitutional, but authorities at the University of Alabama had continued to deter African American applicants through disqualification or intimidation.
In 1963, three African American students, James Hood, Vivian Malone Jones, and Dave McGlathery, applied to the university. On 16 May, 1963, a federal court ordered that the university admit the students. Wallace, who in his inaugural address earlier that year had promised "Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!" demonstrated his objection to the ruling by standing in the doorway at Foster Auditorium to deny entry to the three students.
When Wallace refused to yield to Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard and ordered Wallace's removal. Wallace obeyed and Jones and Hood then entered and successfully enrolled at the university. McGlathery enrolled the following day without incident.
Wallace's continued efforts to block integration and stymie the Birmingham Campaign of 1963 led Martin Luther King, Jr. to declare him "perhaps the most dangerous racist in America today."
In the years following Wallace's stand, Katzenbach collaborated with Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.