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JFK Stands Firm on University of Alabama Integration

May 22, 1963 - President Kennedy made it clear today he would use federal marshals or troops to desegregate the University of Alabama if that is the only way to counter Governor George Wallace’s threat to block the court-ordered admission of two Negroes in June. But he insisted at his news conference: “I hope that would prove unnecessary. I hope this is a matter that can be settled by the local authorities in Alabama.” Mr. Kennedy asserted that as President he is obligated to carry out yesterday’s Federal Court order directing the university to admit Vivian Malone, 20, and David McGlathery, 26, on June 10. Wallace had said he was the highest Constitutional authority of the state and “I will be present to bar the entrance of any Negro who attempts to enroll at the University of Alabama.” Regarding Wallace, the President said: “I cannot believe that the Governor wants us to send federal troops there, I cannot believe he wants us to send federal marshals there, and I cannot believe he would not prefer to have the people of Alabama govern this matter, accept the order of the court, and maintain law and order.”

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