The Oct. 14 obituary of Vivian Malone Jones brought back memories of 1963, when I attended summer school at the University of Alabama. A friend and I came from a small liberal arts school in Ohio, and we had no idea of the historical significance of that summer. We arrived on campus to find National Guard soldiers opening suitcases and examining bags.
No rooms were available in the new, air-conditioned dorm, so we suffered in the old, stifling dorm across the street. However, the day after the famous confrontation with Alabama Gov. George Wallace, which resulted in Ms. Malone's admission, we were able to move into the air-conditioned dorm because so many white girls had moved off the floor where Ms. Malone had been given a room.
Since she was just down the hall, we grew to know her. When we saw her eating alone in the cafeteria, we would sit with her. Having grown up in the Midwest, we didn't realize we were violating a "code."
One evening we received a visit from girls who were members of the sorority we belonged to in Ohio. They said it would hurt the sorority during rush if it were known that some of its members were friendly with Vivian Malone. We were shocked by their statement and continued our friendship both in the dorm and on campus. How far we have come. My experience knowing Vivian Malone has stayed with me all these years. For me, she always will be a symbol of courage and integrity.