09/10/2013 10:03 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This Day In History: The Desegregation Of Alabama Schools In 1963 (PHOTOS)


On September 10th, in 1963, twenty black students entered previously all white public schools in Birmingham, Mobile and Tuskegee Alabama.

This day came after a major stand off between federal authorities and Gov. George C. Wallace where students were turned away. Eleven other states in 144 school districts began the desegregation process without major incidents, however, in Alabama the federal government was forced to step in because of the actions of Governor Wallace. The Governor ordered state patrolmen to block the doors of schools to prevent black students from entering.

sonnie hereford

The day before on September 9, four black students in Huntsville Alabama entered Fifth Avenue school to become the first children to desegregate schools in that town and the entire state. The first student to take that step was Sonnie Hereford IV, who is credited as the first black student to enroll in school in the state of Alabama. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of that day, Hereford and his father recreated the historic photo of them walking into the school.

sonnie hereford

Check out the slideshow below for a look at what students experienced on September 10 when several towns in Alabama were forced to begin the desegregation process.

Alabama School Desegregation