George C. Wallace

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  • Topic: George Wallace, United States presidential election, 1968, Alabama
  • Pages : 5 (1510 words )
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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George Wallace

The 1960's were characterized as an era full of turmoil. During this era, one of the most controversial topics was the fight over civil rights. One of the key political figures against civil rights movement and pro-segregation was George Wallace. Wallace represented the racist southern view. Many Americans were segregationist, but Wallace was adamant about the topic. Many established political figures were assassinated, during the 1960's. Martin Luther King, JFK, and RFK were all positive visionaries caused controversy throughout that decade. George Wallace was against the modern government, pro-middle class, and against civil rights. Wallace and many other visionaries were cut down to early in life. Wallace was not killed by the assassin's bullet but his political career was changed. The attempt on Wallace's life left him a broken man in a wheelchair. People remembered the George Wallace who smoked his cigar and denounced the State Department as communist. Wallace was a feared politician who lived in a state full of beatings and problems. Racism was the norm and Wallace took full advantage of this ploy to gain political attention.

George Corley Wallace was born on August 25, 1919. While attending Barber County High School, he was involved with boxing and football. George even won the state Golden Gloves bantamweight championship not once but twice. Wallace then attended the University of Alabama Law School; this was the same year his father died. Wallace was strapped for cash, so he worked his way through college by boxing professionally, waiting on tables, and driving a taxi. He received his degree in 1942 from the University.

After receiving a medical discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he returned to Alabama. In 1946, Wallace got a job as an assistant to the attorney general for the state of Alabama. Wallace polled to become state representative of Barbour County. During his jaunt as a state representative, he had a number of highlights. They included bills that issued in the industrial era that attracted hundreds of new industries. He was also involved with the GI and Dependents Scholarships Act that provides widows and children access to trade schools and colleges.

Wallace entered the governor's race in 1958. Patterson ran on the Ku Klux Klan ticket; Wallace refused it. The NAACP endorsed Wallace for governor. Wallace lost the governor's race in 1958 to John Patterson by 64,000 votes. After being defeated, Wallace dramatically changed his view on segregation and race relations. These changes were what ultimately led to his election as governor in 1962.

Wallace had many signature moments throughout his inaugural term as governor the first occurred on January 11, 1963. During his inaugural address, Wallace promised to protect the state's "Anglo-Saxon people" from "communistic amalgamation" with blacks. He then ended his speech with the line: "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever." This statement would haunt his political career until the end of his life. The next memorable moment came on June 11, 1963. When he mounted his "stand in the schoolhouse door" to block two black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Wallace fearing significant jail time for defying the federal courts backed off. He then made another speech denouncing "Big-government." His views drew much criticism from northern politicians and officials. Another tense moment was the nationally publicized fire house and police dog incidents in Birmingham.

The Civil Rights movement intensified while Wallace tried to block the integration of the University of Alabama, stating that it was states rights. The demonstrations in Birmingham of 1963 led to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. No more than two years later, the Selma march accomplished the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Everything that happened in the state of...
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