Wallace and other political opportunists stoked their constituents with rage. Mr. Hood, who died Jan. 17 at 70, endured physical threats and the coarsest of verbal intimidation. He was a gregarious Alabama native, 20 years old, and a provocative target of a governor who had vowed in his inaugural address: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.”
In 1956, Autherine Lucy had been the first black student to register at the University of Alabama. But the college suspended her after three days, purportedly because it could not ensure her safety amid violent mobs on and around campus.
On the day of his registration in Tuscaloosa — June 11, 1963 — Mr. Hood was surrounded by federal guards. He described himself as a virtual prisoner in a government sedan as he sweated in a four-button suit and a hat with a red feather.
According to histories of the showdown, which was captured on national television and documentary films, President John F. Kennedy and his Justice Department team had worked out the details in advance with Wallace’s staff.
The governor would protest federal intrusion on state sovereignty but then yield to the students. In the end, Kennedy was forced to federalize the Alabama national guard, and Wallace gave way only under threat of arrest in front of a towering national guard commander.
“It is my sad duty to inform you that the National Guard has been federalized,” Brig. Gen. Henry V. Graham told Wallace before saluting. “Please stand aside so that the order of the court may be accomplished.”
That evening, Kennedy made a televised national address to frame his actions as a “moral issue . . . as old as the scriptures and as clear as the American Constitution.” A third black student subsequently — and quietly — registered at the University of Alabama campus in Huntsville.
As much as Mr. Hood tried to merge into campus life after his enrollment, he faced grim and often-vicious reminders of opposition to his presence. A dead black cat was mailed to him. Harassing phone calls arrived at all hours. On June 12, Medgar Evers, who had helped overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi as a field secretary of the NAACP, was assassinated by bullet in his front yard in Jackson, Miss.
In a sad denouement to his enrollment, Mr. Hood withdrew from school that August “to avoid a complete mental and physical breakdown” and prevent his possible expulsion. He had become entangled in several politically charged battles, including a commentary he wrote for a student publication that appeared to criticize civil rights protests.