US civil rights activist passes away

MONTGOMERY:  A US civil rights pioneer who confronted racial segregation in Alabama in the 1960s has died aged 70.

James Hood died in his hometown of Gadsden in Alabama, BBC News reported quoting a local funeral home’s obituary notice.

Mr Hood was one of two black students to enter the all-white University of Alabama in June 1963. Their path was blocked by then Alabama Governor George Wallace and his state troopers until President John F Kennedy intervened.

President Kennedy ordered the Alabama National Guard to escort Mr Hood and Vivian Malone into the building so that they could register for classes and pay their fees.

Mr Hood attended the university for a few months but then moved to Michigan to complete his education in order to, as he once put it, “avoid a complete mental and physical breakdown”.

He returned to the university in the mid-1990s to complete a doctorate in education. On becoming governor of Alabama in January 1963, George Wallace had promised “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”.

In later years he underwent a complete political transformation and apologised to James Hood and Vivian Malone for his actions that day, saying he had made a mistake.

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