50 Years After George Wallace's Stand

A University of Alabama alumna tells what it was like 15 years after the governor tried to stop integration.

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* When attending college at a majority white institution, blacks can enjoy their greatest success by focusing on the race to succeed, while also remembering who they are and why they are there. I decided to attend Alabama because I knew I wanted to be a lawyer or a journalist. When I studied the backgrounds of successful lawyers and journalists in Alabama, I discovered that a large number had graduated from the University of Alabama. I wanted that same success. I wanted to tap into that network.

There was a lot of hard work involved. In 1979 I went to talk about my grades once with a political science professor who told me that maybe I shouldn't be there. I responded by saying, "You don't know me." I had another professor in the speech department who took issue with my vocal tone. His real concern was that I only did presentations in class on the works of black leaders. We had a conference and I advised him to get over it. That's probably why I got a B in that class.

Although I often regret the fact that I missed the culture and tradition of historically black colleges, I have never regretted my decision to attend the University of Alabama. Years after graduating, I was invited to return in 1996 as a visiting professor. Today I remain as an unofficial recruiter and, of course, a major sports fan. While I realize the university still has much work to do when it comes to race and equality, I am proud of the advancement made since June 11, 1963. The next 50 years should be even greater.

Sherrel Denise Stewart is a freelance writer in Alabama and a 1982 graduate of the University of Alabama.

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