Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963) Movie Script

[music] (orchestra: "Dixie")
(no audible dialogue)
(no audible dialogue)
[music] (orchestra: "Battle
Hymn of the Republic")
MAN (narrating): Not in the 100 years
since Abraham Lincoln
had the power of the American presidency
been completely committed
to the equality of the Negro race
in the United States.
Nor had it been on this day,
June 10, 1963.
In the next 30 hours, John F. Kennedy
will have to make a chain of decisions
deeply affecting millions of Americans
and the future of his own presidency.
His decisions will also affect
the immediate actions of four people...
George Wallace,
governor of the state of Alabama,
determined to defy a federal court order
by personally blocking the entrance
of two Negro students
to the University of Alabama,
Robert Kennedy,
Attorney General of the United States,
responsible for enforcing the federal court
order to gain admission of the two students,
Vivian Malone and James Hood,
Negro students determined
to enter the university
in spite of the governor's opposition.
Finally, a more far-reaching decision of
historic consequence for the president
is whether or not to
commit the presidency,
in a speech before
the United States and the world,
behind racial equality as a moral issue.
This is the account of a crisis,
and the story behind
a presidential commitment.
NARRATOR: McLean, Virginia, home
of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
One for Michael.
One for Ena. One for Grandpa.
And one more for Michael because...
All right. One more for Michael.
You're out. Gee.
And one for Ena. Ena, Ena, Ena.
- Okay, Joe.
- And one for Grandpa. He feels better.
(phone rings)
In view of Wallace's
public statement now
that he's gonna stand in the door
in any case, perhaps it would be...
Montgomery, Alabama,
the home of Governor George Wallace.
GIRL: Mm-mmm. Mm-mmm!
Be careful.
[music] (piano notes)
- (girl shrieks)
- Hi, sweetie.
Yes. You've been off, ain't ya?
Huh? Mmm, I'm glad to see you.
I'm glad to see you.
Kiss me. Give me one kiss.
Have you all looked around?
The portraits.
Course that's
William Lowndes Yancey there.
I read a profound statement he made
the other day,
that to live is not all of life,
and to die is not all of death.
I'd rather live a short life of
standing for principle
than live a long life of compromise.
Of course that may not
mean much to you folks,
but when William C. Oates was the governor
of this state, he was a real fighter.
He was at Gettysburg,
and he lost an arm.
I hope we'll never see another war
of any sort in the world, but, uh,
I think it does us good to reflect
and draw on the courage of people who do
fight and stand for what they believe in.
And there were brave folks
on both sides of that combat.
There were just a lot more of them
than there were of us.
See you later.
Yeah, hurry up though now. Quickly.
You sure have.
I'll see y'all.
Y'all look after the little teeny one.
- All right.
- Bye.
Hi, fellas. How y'all today?
Those are convicts.
I'm getting too old to do this.
That's enough.
Fellas, good to see y'all.
- Good morning.
- Good morning. How you feelin'?
Hey, gentlemen. How are y'all?
This is a moral issue.
A moral issue comes from
your heart in the first place.
If I thought it was sinful
and irreligious and immoral
to separate myself socially
and educationally from Negro citizens,
then I would commit a sin
when I did so, I suppose.
But I... I believe that separation is good
for the Negro citizen and the white citizen.
- MAN: In their best interest.
- And in their best interest.
And if I do something that my heart
tells me is good for both groups,
there's not anything that runs counter
to any religion or any law of morality.
Uh, it's not sinful.
NARRATOR: The attorney general
is head of the Department of Justice.
He is responsible for enforcing
the federal court order
for the entrance of the two students
in the University of Alabama.
He's also responsible for
working out a strategy for Alabama
and for advising the president,
who must make the final decisions.
- WOMAN (on intercom): Yes, sir.
- Susan, the meeting at the White House is not till 5:30, so...
- 5:30?
- Yeah.
So I wonder if we should move...
Hello, General?
Burke Marshall. The attorney general
wanted to talk to you.
Hey, uh, General?
Uh, um... I told you you could
try to develop a plan
about what's gonna happen
when General Graham gets there.
Now I'm not very much in favor of picking the
governor up and moving him out of the way.
I think it would be much better
if we could develop some system...
you have enough people
just to push him aside or something.
I don't want to
pick the governor up very much.
Y'all probably have to tell me.
The capitol of the state of Alabama.
Governor Wallace's staff is assembled
to discuss his showdown
with the federal government.
These are familiar surroundings.
- Is that the old auditorium?
- No.
It's a beautiful university.
It's peaceful and serene, and it's gonna
be peaceful and serene on Tuesday.
Tuesday and every other day.
That's right.
I just want you all to be sure
that not one rock is thrown,
or one brickbat,
not one overt act of violence
in any manner,
Tuesday or any day thereafter.
We're not going to let anybody
desecrate this university.
Because we've got agitators and
provocateurs who come from other...
outside this state...
who themselves will want
to stir up some violence
in order to, uh, hurt our cause.
And to further their cause.
And to further their cause.
Because they thrive
and raise money on disorder.
And so you people who are working under me, I
just want you to know that that's my orders.
We're going to keep the peace.
To manage his strategy
on the scene in Alabama,
Robert Kennedy is sending his
deputy attorney general,
Nicholas Katzenbach,
to Tuscaloosa.
We're sending down, uh, two marshals.
One's already down there, Vandagriff,
who's good.
We're sending down Haislip,
who's one of the others.
They've both had experience.
They've been commanding marshals.
NARRATOR: Burke Marshall, an assistant
attorney general to Robert Kennedy
and head of the Justice Department's
Civil Rights Division.
Well, I'm about to go over to the
White House with the attorney general
to discuss all this with the president.
Yeah, well...
Listen, will you get over to...
You're late.
Can you... Can you get...
We're about half an hour...
What are we gonna do?
The president has called Robert Kennedy
to confer on Alabama and civil rights.
Across the United States,
pressures are rising
for the president to speak out
for racial equality as a moral issue.
But a strong speech could cost
the president Southern support
for new civil rights legislation
he would like to have.
Let's, uh, get started now.
NARRATOR: The president must decide
whether or not to speak out anyway
in a nationwide TV address.
MAN: The next question, which you can
take up now if you want, Mr. President,
is whether you're going to make
a nationwide TV address.
Well, I didn't think so.
It just really depends on whether we have
something on the university, then I would,
but otherwise, I didn't think that
we would at this point.
I think it'd be helpful.
I think it's a reason to do it.
I think you have to talk about the
legislation and talk about employment
and talk about education.
To do it for 15 minutes I think
would alleviate a lot of problems.
Well, I suppose we could do it. I don't
think we want to do it in a half hour.
I think it would take away a lot of the
problems that we're having at the present time.
- Is it going to be helpful to legislate?
- You mean in the legislature?
Is it going to be helpful to bring about
enactment of this legislation?
Because I think he's gonna come across
reasonable and understanding and...
He's gonna make a speech and nothings
going to happen, I would presume.
But he's gonna introduce the
legislation. I think he can say that.
We're going to have some difficulties.
And then describe the fact that we're
going to have problems during the summer.
We hope that the fact that we're making
this kind of effort at the federal level,
that Negroes would understand
their responsibilities.
- I don't...
- Legislative's gonna hurt much more...
I think you get to the real nugget
of this thing on the Hill,
and that's when
you may want to do this.
That's not gonna be
till September or October or November.
I don't think you can get by now
without having an address on television,
at least during this period of time,
giving some direction,
having it in the hands of the president.
Anyway, we'll...
Let's pass on now.
I think we're gonna...
We're gonna get something ready anyway
because it may be that tomorrow...
We got a draft, which doesn't fit
all these points,
but it's something to work with.
And there's some pretty good
sentences and paragraphs.
All right.
It will help us get ready anyway,
because we may want to do it tomorrow.
NARRATOR: The president is still undecided,
but the speech will be prepared.
The president is relying on
Robert Kennedy
to plan a strategy for gaining
the admission of the two students.
Alabama is the last state still holding out
against integration in its university system,
and feelings on both sides
are running high.
If the president has to order in troops,
a carefully timed strategy
might avoid the riots
that marked the integration of the
University of Mississippi at Oxford.
...and would, comma...
WOMAN: ...and would, comma...
(intercom buzzing)
[music] (whistling)
- Yeah?
- WOMAN: General Abrams on three.
Hello? Oh.
Is this General Abrams?
Oh, all right. Hello? Hi, General.
Army General Abrams is in Alabama
to help plan any federal troop moves.
RFK: Remember at Oxford
when the troops came in,
people started throwing things at them, even
though they were their own National Guard,
and I just don't want to have...
We nationalize this
and that rouses everybody
and then they start
turning on the soldiers.
And then we have a big battle out
even before we get on the campus.
With just a hundred men, it might...
I just want to make
sure nothing happens.
I got a map here in front of me.
Is this the university?
Yeah. Now I got Foster Auditorium. Yeah.
University Avenue.
I got University Avenue.
NARRATOR: In Birmingham, another
Robert Kennedy deputy, John Doar,
briefs Vivian Malone and Jimmy Hood
on the government's plan
to enroll them at the university.
We will enter the campus on University
Avenue right here where the "X" is,
drive down to this corner,
drive up 6th Street,
come out in front of Foster Auditorium,
park here and go up these steps.
And whatever meeting
that's held with the governor
will be held in this particular area.
And you should dress as if you
were going to church, for example.
Modestly, neatly, or like you're
going to school the first day.
Just... And you should remember that
it's a very dignified,
orderly procedure,
and, uh, it won't take very long.
And Mr. Katzenbach will be there
and I'll be there.
Undoubtedly the governor of the state
will be there.
And we've got to see
that the court order is enforced
and that you people enjoy the fruits
of the successful litigation
that you've gone through.
And we're going to do that.
There's just no doubt about it.
Thanks very much coming.
Glad to see you.
NARRATOR: Vivian is the daughter
of a retired maintenance man,
one of eight children in the family.
Twenty years old, she has spent
the last two at an all-Negro college.
Vivian's admittance has already been
approved by the University of Alabama
where student and business groups have been
trying to prepare for peaceful integration.
Now, brought into the public eye
by the governor's stand,
Vivian goes to offices of the NAACP
to rehearse answers she may have to give
to public questions about
the Negro drive for equality.
The Negro has come a long way,
but he still has a long way to go.
I think that's quite evident
because of all the movements
and protests and demonstrations that are
going on throughout the country now.
You know, every time
you read something...
They're trying... They're not, um,
willing to sit and wait
- and say, "Well, it's coming eventually."
- MAN: Right.
With adviser Jack Greenberg,
Vivian discusses the governor's chances of
preventing her admission to the university.
You said there's a possibility
that we might not be enrolled tomorrow?
Oh, yeah. I think there's
a good possibility.
I think if the governor starts some
confusion, you'll be brought back.
Then they'll clean that place out, and the
next time you go up, that'll be the end of it.
- ...clear it up.
- Oh, okay.
So that's it, right?
And so if you come back,
we'll see you tomorrow afternoon.
And if you don't, then we'll see you
at the end of the semester.
Study hard. And if you don't flunk out,
we'll see you again.
Vivian is already a cover subject
for Newsweek magazine.
Now she's being photographed for Time.
MAN: Let's see that smile.
Think of the governor. Nice smile.
We'll do a few more here.
Why do you want to go to
the University of Alabama specifically,
and not some other university?
The school that I was previously attending
became unaccredited in December of 1961.
And the University of
Alabama is accredited.
Also, being a resident of the state, I feel that
I'm entitled to an education in this state.
I've seen it happen myself. Here in
Alabama, no Negro is ever embarrassed.
He knows the cafes he goes to.
He knows the ones that the whites go to.
Uh, and that the United States government and
the United States people are committed to it.
Uh, it's unfortunate
that these pictures go abroad.
I don't think there's any question that it
affects our position throughout the world.
But that's only a secondary reason
for doing what we have to do.
The first reason is because
it's the right thing to do.
And as President Kennedy has said,
we're going to do this because
it's the right thing to do.
I'm for you 100% and 1,000%.
Always have been.
I haven't talked to a single person yet
that condemns you.
- And everybody's praying.
- Well, I'm glad to hear that.
This is Miss Whiteman. I saw you here about two
months ago and had a little chat with you.
I just want to tell you we think you're
wonderful and hope you'll be successful.
Thank you very much.
Where you all from?
- Uh, Alabama.
- Alabama.
Yeah. Good old Blount County.
Hi, partner. Glad to see you.
- It's an honor to meet you.
- Well, thank you.
We're proud of our governor
and what you're doing for Alabama.
Thank you very much, dear.
[music] For he's a jolly
good fellow [music]
What do you want to do most in life?
Become the governor
of the state of Alabama.
You think it would change things any?
No, no.
I just want to become the governor.
A man said the other day, "You give these
Negroes an inch, they'll take a mile."
I just don't know what in the world's gonna
happen. Hell's just poppin' all over the place.
So if you give me an inch and let me in
your university, I'll become the governor.
That's what they're saying.
Sure, I love it.
Sure, I love the red, white and blue.
Oh, Nick? Where's Nick, Sean?
Hey, Nick? Oh, I talked to General
Abrams about getting these people...
I thought that we'd come up with a plan
about how we're gonna handle the governor.
I don't like the idea of picking him up.
And perhaps you'd work that out with him as
to pushing the governor aside, et cetera,
and how many people would be...
It is so fantastic in this day and time
to even be trying to handle
a governor of a sovereign state
just like a...
(clears throat)
a common lawbreaker.
According to the federal court order,
Governor Wallace would
be breaking the law
if he were to stand in the door
and block the students.
Robert Kennedy has been
trying to work out a strategy
that would avoid jailing the governor or
backing down in the face of his defiance.
The governor has indicated
that he might back down
if the federal government
were to send in troops,
a move the government will try to avoid
unless a clear necessity
is made apparent.
The attorney general is about to suggest
his strategy to the president.
Its first step would be to prevent
actual lawbreaking by the governor
through a technicality,
by keeping the students in a car
while Nicholas Katzenbach
confronts the governor.
Then if he still refuses,
Nick Katzenbach will say that we got this
court order and we have to go through.
On a legal basis, he's made the test.
This matter should be
determined in the courts.
It shouldn't be determined out here.
He's had his opportunity
and should let them go through.
Otherwise we're gonna have to
take other steps
because these students are going
to attend the University of Alabama.
Then if he still doesn't move,
then we'll try to get by him.
- Pushing?
- By pushing a little bit.
Just having somebody stand in front
of him and try to walk through.
There are three doors.
We're gonna try to have somebody inside
who will open up one of the other doors.
He can't cover all three doors.
And just have the girl and boy
just try to go through another door.
Anyway, that's gonna be up to Nick
Katzenbach as to how far we can go on that.
If he's able to keep the doors locked
and actually keep them out,
and if it's gonna require knocking him
down, or some real forceful action,
then they will pull away.
What we think then is that
they'll go to their dormitories
and say, "Well, we'll work out
the registration sometime else."
- They'll go to their dormitories and...
- Have they got an assigned dormitory?
NARRATOR: By going to dormitories,
the students would remain on campus,
and the federal government
would not have retreated.
But having failed to pass a governor armed with
his own state troopers and National Guard,
the federal government would have to return
for a second try armed with greater force.
The president could take over the governor's
troops by nationalizing the Alabama Guard,
but that could take
another day, 24 hours,
that would be an embarrassing delay
for the federal government.
Mr. President, I think our being
turned back by the governor,
letting that situation exist throughout the
country and the world for even 24 hours...
JFK: All right. Well, I don't mind...
Let's go with the Guard.
Well, it's a step.
Because what we tried to do, of course,
is to put it on his back completely, that
we're trying to get this worked out.
Of course he called up the Guard,
which means he might try to tie it back.
He continues to say
that he's called up the Guard,
which indicates that he thinks
the situation is very critical.
After all, he call up the Guard.
I didn't.
They produced a situation which has
necessitated calling up 600 Guardsmen.
And therefore to meet my response,
be prepared for any situation,
we are gonna federalize this Guard
and so on and so forth.
Now, he may announce that in that case he
won't be responsible for law and order.
But that could come any day.
That's the fact of the matter.
Then we would have the Guard ready,
and then we would use them...
Then you'd say to him that you would hope
that none of this would be necessary,
that he would stay at home, and in
your judgment if he does stay at home,
the local police department
could handle it.
It might possibly avoid
this problem of arrest.
The disadvantages
of your calling up the Guard...
Let me just call Cy Vance and see if there's
anything that we could do before 24 hours.
Hey, Cy, assuming that we get turned back
at 10:30 tomorrow morning, their time,
is there any way that you could get
the Guard in there,
the Tuscaloosa Guard in there
by 4:00 that afternoon?
NARRATOR: Unless Robert Kennedy can work
out a faster way to nationalize the Guard,
the president will have
only two alternatives...
Send in troops at the outset before a need
for them could be publicly demonstrated,
or else, wait until after being turned
back and suffer a 24-hour delay
at the hands of the governor.
RFK: Could you get them there
by 4:00 that afternoon?
So I would think that probably,
unless we change,
that probably the best thing to do
would be to go as scheduled.
Just put up with the 24 hours between the
nationalizing the Guard in that period...
We can make a speech on television,
taking other action
which would indicate that we are not
permitting him to get away with defiance.
It's inevitable that we're going to
be successful.
So I would think that
we'll go with that.
State troopers.
The schoolhouse door
at the University of Alabama.
Nearby, Nicholas Katzenbach
is briefing federal marshals
who will be guarding
the students tomorrow.
If you're gonna have guns,
it's gonna pretty hard not to...
I'd rather not have them visible.
I think that's the problem.
And therefore I think...
I don't think we need any armbands,
because they...
The word "marshal," since Oxford,
is kind of a dirty word down here.
I hate to say it, but it is.
And if we can be unostentatious
about what we do,
we're in a much better position to afford
protection to these people if it's needed.
And, uh, not that I want any shooting
or anything of that kind,
but if you're in an escort of that kind,
you've got to take whatever force is necessary
to protect the lives
of those two students.
They're our responsibility.
NARRATOR: 11:00, the night
before the confrontation,
and Vivian is still concerned about what
to do if the governor turns her back.
If we aren't accepted,
then we'll just come on back here.
- I mean, we won't say anything to reporters.
- No, no.
No, no, no. We'll discuss...
Particularly if you're turned away,
don't talk to reporters.
(chattering continues)
- Good night.
- Good night.
- Okay, good night.
- Good luck.
- See you tomorrow.
- Okay, then.
NARRATOR: Early morning, the
day of the confrontation.
General, uh, if the president signed
that proclamation in another hour or so,
whether you could get the Guard together
by 10:30 your time...
Ready and in place
and under the proper direction
by three hours later,
which would be 10:30?
Now, the problem... the biggest problem
in this is General Graham.
Even if you notified General Graham now
and got a plane there,
you couldn't get him into Tuscaloosa
in five hours?
(exhales, coughs)
Abrams here.
Uh, do you know where
the attorney general called for?
If I wanted to talk to him right now,
would you know where to get ahold of him?
Uh, all right.
Uh, would you do that?
(phone rings)
Uh, just a minute, Burke.
How you doing?
We're still considering
what we ought to do this morning
and whether or not we should call up the
Guard and just have them already there.
Go in with you.
What do you think of that?
He won't step aside
under it in the first place.
He'll be carried off by soldiers.
And I think you ought to...
Well, I have every indication
he's not gonna step aside up there,
and I have every indication he will dramatize
to that group of reporters and that crowd
the fact that he has
been forcibly removed.
I don't see what the
third alternative is.
The third alternative
is the one that I indicated, Burke.
Uh, everybody else can see it.
That is, simply, that we just reduce
the going-through-that-door to nothing.
And they start attending classes.
Now the governor cannot block
all those classes.
You mean, and not bring
the National Guard out at all?
Ah... I mean, he won't put up with it,
and it won't work in that sense.
The only danger with that plan that I see,
and it's one that ought to be weighed,
is that the governor's resentment
at being made a fool of will be such
that he will move way over
to the segregationist side
and make life much more difficult
and more dangerous in the future.
Of course he might do that anyhow.
NARRATOR: Robert Kennedy
has managed to reduce the time
for getting the Guard to the campus
to five hours, and maybe four.
Now he suggests a new plan...
allow Katzenbach
to be turned back by the governor.
Then nationalize the Guard fast enough to
return for a second try that same afternoon.
Coming back... That he won't get
any satisfactory answer coming back,
nationalizing the guard,
then coming back with them then.
Uh, now I don't know what he will do.
He may say, "Bring
them up and find out."
But I think that can be handled.
You can just say, "We're not making
a stage production out of this."
"Uh, and now is the time,
and I want to know your intentions."
Then the choice is with him.
RFK: You want to think about that
for a few minutes?
This is to have the confrontation
with I and Macon and Peyton Norville,
the students remaining in the car.
Saying I want to know
what you're gonna do.
I would propose to take them
to their dormitories,
then have them talk to the troops.
Keep 'em on the campus.
So there's no retreat.
This is with you going down there
and no federalization.
That's right.
Federalize. Then you bring 'em.
Then we got about an hour.
- Yeah.
- We could probably do it in an hour.
I could take the students
to their dormitory.
We can't get General Graham here
in that time.
I would say two hours,
and I stay on the campus.
Why should those students
leave the campus?
- Why don't they go to their rooms?
- It's just a matter of-
If they could go to their rooms,
that would be a good solution.
That way we haven't retreated anywhere
because it's perfectly obvious
to every one of those newspaper people
that they're going to their rooms.
Three of Robert Kennedy's children
have stopped by to see their father.
ABRAMS: It does seem to me that it makes it
clearer the basis for federalizing the troops.
I mean, I don't know the...
I'm no legal man.
But just to a layman it makes it clear
that federalization is necessary.
KATZENBACH: I think his unwillingness to state
what he's going to do can be regarded...
And I simply put that on him.
I'm gonna say, "If you will not
assure me at this point that ..."
"I... I'm required assurance from you
at this point"
"that you will stand aside
and not defy this court order."
"I can make no other assumption
under these circumstances,"
"if you fail to give me that assurance."
"The ball is with you."
(phone ringing)
Line one.
Is General Abrams there with you?
Yes, he is. He was one second ago.
He likes it.
You want him back?
I can put him on, Bob.
No, he says he likes this.
It makes clearer the basis that...
of... of calling up the Guard
and he thinks ifs a good scheme.
He prefers it.
- Want to say hello to Kerry?
- Yeah!
- KERRY: Hi, Nick.
- Hi, Kerry. How are you, dear?
What are you doing?
Are you at... Are you at our house?
- What?
- Are you at our house?
No, I'm not out at your house.
I'm way down in the southland.
Way down south. And you know what
the temperature is down here?
The temperature down here is 98 degrees.
You tell your father that.
- Tell him we're all going to get hardship pay.
- (laughing)
- Got Kerry on here.
- Kerry.
We're all going to get hardship today.
- We're all going to get what?
- Hardship today.
Okay. Say good-bye.
- Ninety-eight degrees.
- Say good-bye.
Good-bye. Good-bye.
Listen, Nick, why don't we plan that?
And, uh, uh... and, uh, I think...
What do you think, Burke?
I'll take the students on,
I will leave them in the car
and they will go to
their dormitories thereafter.
And then the students will come back
and register in the afternoon?
Nick, now, what are you
going to say to him again, now?
I know. You're gonna have to play it
a little by ear. But I wouldn't take...
I wouldn't take him too s...
I mean, almost dismiss him as being
rather a second-rate figure for you.
He's wasting your time,
he's wasting the student's time
and he's caused a big scene up there.
You know, I'd have that sort of
tone of voice. Don't you think?
Yeah. All right.
Good luck. You'll do well.
You know, it'll work well.
Okay, Nick. Bye-bye.
- Bless your heart. Bless your heart.
- Thank you.
Bless your heart.
We're all with you.
Thank you very much, dear.
I appreciate y'all saying that.
Hi, sweetie. Glad to see y'all.
- We all love you.
- I know you do. Thank you very much.
I'm glad you all feel that way.
MAN (static):
We 're getting a feedback here,
but there is a large crowd of the press
corps around him listening to this.
TV cameras.
The press are here in large numbers.
This is from the governor.
Yeah, but is he talking directly
to the governor, Katzenbach?
And I've come here to ask you now
for an unequivocal assurance
that you will permit these students,
who, after all, merely want an education
at a great university...
Now you make your statement, but we
don't need for you to make a speech.
- You make your statement.
- I will make my statement, Governor.
I was in the process
of making my statement.
And I'm asking from you
an unequivocal assurance
that you will not bar entry
to these students,
to Vivian Malone and to James Hood,
and that you will step aside peacefully
and do your constitutional duty
as governor...
(man on radio, indistinct)
Is he getting to talk to the governor?
I have a statement to read.
"As governor and chief magistrate
of the state of Alabama,"
"I deem it to be my solemn obligation
and duty to stand before you,"
"representing the rights and sovereignty
of this state and its peoples."
"The unwelcomed, unwanted,
unwarranted and force-induced intrusion"
"upon the campus of
the University of Alabama today"
"of the might of the
central government,"
"offers frightful example
of the oppression of the rights,"
"privileges and sovereignty
of this state"
"by officers of the federal government."
Somebody's got a car up in there.
I can hear it.
"Do hereby denounce and forbid
this illegal and unwarranted action
by the central government."
Governor Wallace,
I take it from that statement
that, uh, you are going to
stand in that door
and that you are not going to carry out
the orders of this court,
that you are going to
resist us from doing so.
- Is that correct?
- I stand upon the statement.
You stand upon that statement.
Governor, I'm not interested in a show. I
don't know what the purpose of the show is.
I am interested in
the orders of this court being enforced.
That is my only responsibility here.
I ask you once more.
The choice is yours.
There is no choice that
the United States government has in this
but to see that the lawful orders
of its court are enforced.
Governor George Wallace of Alabama
has stood in the schoolhouse door.
He has refused to permit
Nicholas Katzenbach,
Deputy Attorney General
of the United States,
and Marshal Peyton Norville
escort the two Negro students
and to sign up for summer classes.
Now Nicholas Katzenbach
and Marshal Norville,
flanking Vivian Malone,
are walking down the street.
Apparently they are going to walk
to another door of the schoolhouse.
- (chattering)
- WOMAN: Where do we get by?
You can't come this way.
We have now been informed that
Vivian Malone is being escorted
to a woman's dormitory here on the
campus of the University of Alabama.
Vivian Malone is now out of our view,
but the oar with Jimmy Hood
is leaving the area of the auditorium,
presumably to go to his dormitory.
Can we get hold of Mr. Katzenbach?
Hold on. They have to re...
We can only talk to him through a relay.
We can hear him talk back...
What I'd like to do is go ahead
and issue the proclamation,
nationalize the Guard
and find out what...
- Sir, do you want to talk to Nick?
- Yeah.
Would you mind going back
so I can have some communication?
- Tell us what happens when you go through?
- No.
Will you get back, please?
How far?
Okay, go ahead. They can't hear it.
Ten-four. The message is as follows...
Washington intends to issue the executive
order to federalize the troops.
Also, do you expect any problems?
I do not presently expect any problems,
but they are probably thinking.
He is not expecting any trouble,
but the people here think he is?
- That's not...
- What is that?
His answer was that he was not expecting
trouble, but people here think he is.
That's a complica...
Can you get Nick on the phone?
Why don't we just go ahead and do it?
Because I want to find out what
the governor said. It's silly to...
- WOMAN: Got him on the line, on three.
- Okay.
Hello? Oh, Nick?
Now, did the governor say anything which would
lead us not to issue this proclamation?
Nicholas Katzenbach has agreed
that it is time for the president to sign
the proclamation nationalizing the Guard.
Could I have the president, please?
A call to the president.
So will you issue
the proclamation now and sign it?
The executive order, yeah.
Right now? Okeydokey.
(shouting cadence)
NARRATOR: The National Guard troops
arrive by afternoon.
Yeah. Bob wants to speak to you though.
Just a minute. It's Nick.
Hey, Nick, I think we should
for two reasons, uh,
try to keep the students
from being addressed by the governor.
One, to give him that platform, and two, to
subject them to that... those insulting...
NARRATOR: General Graham,
commander of the Alabama National Guard.
Governor Wallace was his commander.
Now the general confronts the governor as a
representative of the federal government.
He's in command of 17,000 troops,
100 of which are on the campus.
MALE REPORTER: ...coming away
from the door. He is stepping aside.
Governor Wallace has stepped aside.
He's making his way away from the door.
The second confrontation is over.
Governor Wallace is walking out,
getting into his car.
State troopers,
his aides are getting into his car.
He is, as he said,
going back to Montgomery,
the state capital,
to continue what he says is a fight
he says he's winning.
So Governor George Wallace,
second confrontation, has stepped aside.
WALLACE: I just hope that
you'll come back to see us.
- Come back to see us in Alabama.
- Why don't you hold a press...
- I hope we'll have...
- Will you talk tonight in Montgomery?
The next step now
will be, I would imagine,
the arrival of the students.
Now here come the Negro students.
Here come the Negro students. First...
How do you feel, ma'am?
A call to the president.
Oh, you got it? Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah, well, I think that's good.
Yeah, I think it's fine. Okay.
MAN: Now both Negro students
are inside the building.
Both Negro students
are inside Foster Auditorium
at the University of Alabama,
where they will complete their re...
That's right. And-And-And-And...
And the South this year... next year...
will decide who the next president is.
Whoever the South votes for
will be the president,
'cause you can't win without the South.
And you're going to see that the South
is going to be against some folks.
Are you getting used to...
But I think as soon as we could
have that draft
'cause we might have some ideas
and important speeches.
And Louis Martin I think
should look at it.
Okay. Bye.
He's gonna make that speech.
He's going to make the speech.
The president has decided to make
a major commitment tonight
in an address to the nation,
and only four hours remain
in which to complete it.
JFK: I hope that every American will
stop and examine his conscience
about this and other related incidents.
This nation was founded by men
of many nations and backgrounds.
It was founded on the principle
that all men are created equal,
and that the rights of every man
are diminished
when the rights of one
man are threatened.
We are confronted primarily
with a moral issue.
It is as old as the scriptures and is
as clear as the American Constitution.
The heart of the question is
whether all Americans
are to be afforded equal rights
and equal opportunities,
whether we are going to treat our fellow
Americans as we want to be treated.
If an American,
because his skin is dark,
cannot enjoy the full and free life
which all of us want,
then who among us would be content
to have the color of his skin changed
and stand in his place?
Who among us would then be content
with the counsels of patience and delay?
One hundred years of delay
have passed
since President Lincoln
freed the slaves,
yet their heirs, their grandsons,
are not fully free.
They are not yet freed
from the bonds of injustice.
They are not yet freed
from social and economic oppression.
And this nation,
for all its hopes and all its boasts,
will not be fully free
until all its citizens are free.
We face therefore a moral crisis
as a country and a people.
It cannot be met
by repressive police action.
It cannot be left to increase
demonstrations in the streets.
It cannot be quieted
by token moves or talk.
It is a time to act in the Congress,
in your state and local
legislative body,
and above all, in all
of our daily lives.
This is what we're talking about,
and this is a matter which concerns
this country and what it stands for.
And in meeting it, I ask the
support of all of our citizens.
Thank you very much.
Now the people we got, they just...
We just had peace, but we got...
We had peace, but we got troops.
No telling what we'd get
if we had a little disorder.
(man cackling)
Might get the United Nations
down on top of us.
NARRATOR: Two days later,
Negro Dave McGlathery
enrolled at the University of Alabama
campus in Huntsville,
without escort or incident of any kind.
KATZENBACH: It went without a hitch.
He went completely unaccompanied,
all the way from here to the...
I don't see how
they could have missed it, Bob.
He parked in the parking lot
like other students.
Other students registered
before him and after him.
And he walked in the same way
that they did.
(chuckling) Yeah. Okay.
Tonight, 7:30, huh? All right.
A final call to the president.
So I... You know, it was really good.
I think it was really good. And I think
it's well to have it behind us. Okay.