Friday, October 14, 2005

Vivian Malone Jones, 63, integration pioneer

ATLANTA (AP) — Vivian Malone Jones, one of two black students whose effort to enroll at the University of Alabama led to Gov. George Wallace’s infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door” in 1963, died of a stroke Oct. 13 at Atlanta Medical Center, her sister said. She was 63.

Mrs. Jones was taken to the hospital two days earlier after suffering a sudden stroke.

“She was absolutely fine Monday,” said her sister, Sharon Malone, who lives in the District.

Mrs. Jones grew up in Mobile, Ala., and had enrolled at historically black Alabama A&M University in Huntsville when she transferred to the University of Alabama in 1963. The move led to Mr. Wallace’s infamous stand in defiance of orders to admit black students. Mrs. Jones and James Hood, accompanied by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, enrolled after Mr. Wallace finished his statement and left.

At an appearance last year in Mobile, she recalled meeting with Mr. Wallace in 1996, when the former governor was in frail health. He died in 1998.

“I asked him why did he do it,” she said. “He said he did what he felt needed to be done at that point in time, but he would not do that today. At that point, we spoke — I spoke — of forgiveness.”

She recalled that she and Mr. Hood waited in a car until Mr. Wallace read his proclamation. Finally, when he stepped aside, she said, that allowed them to enter the university.

“I was never afraid. I did have some apprehensions in my mind, though, especially having gone to segregated, ‘separate, but equal’ schools,” she said.

Mrs. Jones graduated in 1965. Mr. Hood left after a few months but returned to receive his doctorate in 1997.

After graduating from Alabama, Mrs. Jones went on to work for the U.S. Justice Department in Washington and for the Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta, where she retired.

“She will be remembered for her courage and grace that inspired young people throughout the world,” University of Alabama President Robert E. Witt said.

Mrs. Jones’ husband, Mack Jones, died last year. Survivors include two children, Monica Jones-Sharis and Michael Jones, both of Atlanta; one grandchild; three brothers, Elvin Malone Sr. of Macon, Ga.; Clinton Malone Sr. of Dallas and Charles Malone of Mobile; and four sisters, Joyce Phillips of Atlanta, Margie Tuckson of Minneapolis, Sharon Malone of the District and Gwendolyn Moseby of Mobile.

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