In response, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11111, which federalized the Alabama National Guard, and Guard General Henry Graham then commanded Wallace to step aside, saying, "Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under the orders of the President of the United States." Wallace then spoke further, but eventually moved, and Malone and Hood completed their registration. The incident brought Wallace into the national spotlight.
On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision regarding the case called Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which the plaintiffs charged that the education of black children in separate public schools from their white counterparts was unconstitutional. Brown v. Board of Education meant that the University of Alabama had to be desegregated. In the years following, hundreds of African-Americans applied for admission, but with one brief exception,[Note 1] all were denied. The University worked with police to find any disqualifying qualities, or when this failed, intimidated the applicants. But in 1963, three African-Americans —Vivian Malone Jones, Dave McGlathery and James Hood—applied. In early June a federal district judge ordered that they be admitted, and forbade Governor Wallace from interfering.