Essays and Art ‘Open Doors’ for a New Generation Through UA’s 40th Anniversary Commemoration

  • May 26th, 2003

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Tuscaloosa middle school and high school students enrolled in public and private schools in both the city and the county were invited to write essays and create art projects using the theme “Opening Doors” and how the events of June 1963 helped provide opportunities for others.

Throughout 2003, The University of Alabama will reflect upon and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first successful enrollment of African-American students at the University through a series of presentations and events. A three-day program, known as “Opening Doors,” is planned for June 9-11, 2003, to commemorate the events of June 11, 1963, when Vivian Malone (now Vivian Malone Jones) and James Hood enrolled at UA following Gov. George Wallace’s “stand in the schoolhouse door.”

“We wanted to include activities that would help young people reflect upon the historical significance of what Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood accomplished,” said Dr. B. Joyce Stallworth, associate professor of English education and department head of secondary education in the College of Education at The University of Alabama.

Students interested in writing an essay were asked to discuss how the events of June 1963 helped to provide opportunities for others; identify someone who has helped to provide opportunities for them; and share why providing opportunities for others is important. The mixed media art projects used the theme ‘Opening Doors’ to present images of the 1963 events and the resulting opportunities. Both halves of the project were used as an exercise to bridge the past, present and future.

“It has been exciting to be involved in this project,” Stallworth said. “It’s great to see students expressing their ideas about the desegregation of the University. I was impressed with their abilities to articulate such well-conceptualized responses, and I’m happy that so many students took such a great interest in the project.”

Essays and art projects were judged by a combination of secondary school teachers, UA English department professors and UA College of Education professors.

Each judge used a rubric to blindly score each essay and art project independently.

The winners will receive trophies and monetary awards on Wednesday, June 11 at the Youth Program, as part of the “Opening Doors” events. For a complete listing of the “Opening Doors” events, go to

Also integral in this community program were Samory Pruitt, assistant to the UA president for corporate and community affairs and chair of the planning committee for “Opening Doors,” and Dr. Hank Lazer, assistant vice president for undergraduate programs and services and planning committee member for “Opening Doors.”

Essay Contest Winners:

Middle School Division:

  • 1st place: Athea Royster, Hillcrest Middle School, 8th Grade
  • 2nd place: KeiAra Sanders, Westlawn Middle School, 8th Grade
  • 3rd place: Erik Hestevold, Eastwood Middle School, 8th Grade

High School Division:

  • 1st place: Karen Mei, Central West High School, 9th Grade
  • 2nd place: Matt Dahlman, Central East High School, 12th Grade
  • 3rd place: Zach Shuttlesworth, Central East High School, 12th Grade

Art Contest Winners:

Middle School

  • 1st place: Kaleena Jackson, Tuscaloosa Academy, 8th Grade
  • 2nd place: Cindy Jia, Tuscaloosa Middle School, 8th Grade

    High School

  • 1st place: Meredith Miles, Central East High School, 12th Grade
  • 2nd place: Lee Tyler Hope, Central East High School, 12th Grade

Editor’s Note: All essays are available electronically through Elizabeth Smith.


Kristen Smith or Linda Hill, Office of Media Relations, 205/348-8325,

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.