Sunday, 9 June 2013

In a Big Country

Tuesday June 11th 1963
In the USA, two significant events at either end of the moral spectrum on this same day.

At Alabama University, right wing anti-segregation state Governor George C. Wallace defiantly stood in the doorway, blocking the entry of it's prospective first black students.
Back in Washington, Defence Secretary Robert McNamara ordered the Alabama National Guard to support Assistant Attorney General Katzenbach who faced Wallace to demand the
students be allowed to register. Wallace proclaimed he was forbidding what he called "this illegal and unwarranted action by the central government" in instigating this desegregation.
The National Guard told Wallace they would enforce the President's order and the
Governor stepped aside at 3:40 that afternoon. The students, James Hood and Vivian Malone, walked unhindered into the university and into the history books. Read more about it here
Back in Washington, President Kennedy delivered an historic Speech promising a Civil Rights Bill, asking for "the kind of equality of treatment that we would want for ourselves." Read the full text of Kennedy's speech here

Meanwhile, at the University of Mississippi, the first human lung transplant was performed by Dr. James Hardy. The patient turned out to be John Richard Russell, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence for a 1957 killing, who was given a full pardon for volunteering for the operation. He survived for 18 days but skills learned that day would revolutionize surgery worldwide. The history of lung transplantation here

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