Vivian Malone Awards celebrate advancing legacies

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By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Zhoee’ Williams

The 2022 inaugural Vivian Malone Award Ceremony was held on April 9 at the newly built Alabama campus building Hewson Hall. It recognized the legacy of Vivian Malone Jones by honoring alumni excellence and student achievements.

On June 11, 1963, Jones and James Hood sought to enroll at the university, but Gov. George Wallace blocked the doorway of Foster Auditorium in an effort to stop their registration. After President John F. Kennedy called in the National Guard, Wallace moved aside and the two became the UA’s first Black students. Hood left the university after a few months, but Jones earned her degree on May 30, 1965.

That groundbreaking achievement and courage cannot be understated, said UA Culverhouse College of Business Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Associate Dean James E. King Jr.

“As a University of Alabama graduate in the role of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the college where Malone matriculated, I am deeply aware of the debt I owe to her groundbreaking life,” King said.

That’s why he helped create the Malone Alumni Awards, he said, as a way for the university to honor those who followed in her footsteps.

Former football player Kerry Goode attended the event as an honoree for the inaugural 2022 Crimson Flame Award.

Goode played for the Crimson Tide from 1983 through 1987 and was soon after drafted to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he played for a year before trading to the Miami Dolphins and later retiring from the field. He continued his love for football by coaching for the New York Giants and the St. Louis Rams.

Tanja Goode, Kerry’s wife, said her husband has always been a people person, and he displayed that by organizing some of the biggest and best tailgates that reunited UA alumni, cultures and old friends.

“The tailgate master continued these functions until he physically was not able to continue,” Tanja Goode said at the event. “In 2015, Kerry received a diagnosis that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. With this disease, all of your muscles die. There is no known cure and life expectancy is an average of three years. Keep in mind I said 2015.”

Seven years later, Kerry Goode accepted his award with a short speech.

“I consider this award as one of the greatest honors that I have ever received,” he said. “Mrs. Vivian Malone Jones and I attended the same church in Atlanta, and I look at her with the greatest inspiration from across the room for the strength and courage it took to be somewhere she wasn’t wanted.”

Kerry Goode also made sure to thank his parents, who were educators while he and his siblings were growing up.

“It takes someone special to be an educator — a person who cares for others and aims to help students grow to their fullest potential,” he said. “Mom and Dad, thank you for showing us how to make a difference in the lives of others. To my wife and kids, you give me a reason to fight this horrible disease daily.”

Other honorees include:

  • Judge John England Jr.: Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Tracy Croom: Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Akiesha Anderson: Rising Tide Award
  • Royce Dickerson: Outstanding Graduate Award

You can learn more about the inaugural Malone Awards right here.

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