James Hood laid to rest in Gadsden - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

James Hood laid to rest in Gadsden

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Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
The community packed the First United Methodist Church in Gadsden. Source: WBRC video The community packed the First United Methodist Church in Gadsden. Source: WBRC video
L-R: James Hood and Vivian Malone in 1963. Source: WBRC file video L-R: James Hood and Vivian Malone in 1963. Source: WBRC file video
GADSDEN, AL (WBRC) -

James Hood, one of the first black students to enroll at the University of Alabama, was laid to rest today in Gadsden.

Hood passed away nearly a week ago at the age of 70. Thursday afternoon, songs of praise filled the air as hundreds gathered to celebrate Hood's life.

"I am overwhelmed with joy. I have peace in my heart," Hood's son, Darrell Hood, said. "My father was a legend and a legacy."

That legacy began June 11, 1963 when the then 20-year-old Hood joined Vivian Malone and tried to integrate the Capstone. They were met with resistance by then Gov. George Wallace but were finally admitted after President John. F. Kennedy took federal authority over National Guard members and they escorted Hood and Malone inside.

"To me, going into the University together, he and Vivian looked good together, they were neat, he had his tie, his hat on,"

Darrell Hood says his father would mention that historic day from time to time.

"He didn't want people to forget the struggle it took to get where he was and be and he wanted the children after him to continue his legacy," Hood said. "They refused to allow anything to put them in a box."

The Rev. Dedric Cowser remembers hearing stories about Hood as a child only to become his pastor years later. It was a position Hood himself held as a young man.

"It was very interesting to know it was a cross racial appointment so it was a predominately white congregation in the 60s. So he continued to cross barriers even after leaving Alabama."

"He set an example for the whole family and all they need to do is follow in that path,"

Though Hood left the Capstone after a few months, he went on to earn several degrees. He eventually returned to the University of Alabama in 1997 to earn his doctorate in philosophy.

The university ran the Denny Chimes today to honor Hood.

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