MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — WKRG News 5 is honoring trailblazers throughout the month for Black History Month.
News 5 recognizes the first Black person to graduate from the University of Alabama, Mobile-native Vivian Malone Jones.
She graduated from the university in 1965, after becoming one of the first two Black students to enroll two years earlier.
Jones previously earned a bachelor’s degree at Alabama A&M, but the school wasn’t accredited at the time, so she went to Alabama.
She and fellow Black student James Hood became known for being blocked from entering the school by then-Governor George Wallace, despite a court ruling they could attend.
The moment was known as the infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” event.
The students finally entered four and half hours later after the National Guard arrived.
She went on to work for the Environmental Protection Agency before her 1996 retirement.
That year, she also was chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Lurleen B. Wallace Award of Courage and the former Governor later apologized for his actions.
Jones died in 2005 from complications following a stroke.
Her family runs the non-profit hub Vivian’s Door in Mobile that provides resources to Black-owned businesses in the area.