Father's act left Wallace family 'standing at the schoolhouse door'

June 10, 2013 at 1:16 PM
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala., June 10 (UPI) -- A daughter of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace says she has been "standing in the schoolhouse door" since her father's famous action 50 years ago.

Peggy Wallace Kennedy was 13 years old on June 11, 1963, when her father stood in the entrance to the University of Alabama to block the registration of two African-Americans. He stepped aside when confronted by federal marshals, National Guard troops and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach.

"It has taken me a lifetime to step out from the shadow of the schoolhouse door," Kennedy said in an interview published Monday by AL.com.

While she knew as a child what her father, a former lawyer and judge, had done, she said she realized in later years "how illogical it was."

"There was never any anger for the things that he did," she said. "I was aware, of course. I may not have understood all of it when I was young. But I wouldn't say there was any anger, because it was just never discussed at home."

Her mother, who had grown up in a home along a dirt road, had always wanted a simple life, Kennedy said.

"But that day, I think she realized that possibility had ended for us, and we would be standing [in] the shadow of that door," Kennedy added.

Kennedy has children of her own and said she was inspired by President Obama's statement that "change can come, and we need to move forward."

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