tv Governor George Wallace Collection CSPAN August 12, 2016 10:34am-10:56am EDT
businessman ross perot who ran as an independent presidential nominee in both the 1992 and 1996 races. >> we must set the highest ethical and moral standards for the people who serve in our government, and all that has got to be changed from rules to laws in the next four years, and we're going to have to stand at the gate and keep the pressure on and we will. >> for our complete american history tv schedule, go to c-span.org. up next, our tour of the george washington collection at the alabama department of archives and history. this was part of c-span's cities tour of montgomery, alabama. today, we're here at the alabama department of archives and history, which is the state archival institution located in montgomery, alabama. today, we're going to be looking at material from the george wallace collection and material from other collections that is
related to george wallace. and the larger time frame of 1963 or the 1960s and alabama. george wallace is one of probably the most influential and well known politicians that comes out of the state. he -- he's governor for four terms, two consecutive terms and then two additional terms. and is involved in a lot of what is happening in the early '60s. he also makes two very influential runs for president in 1968 and 1972. he makes additional runs in 1964 and 1976. but the two that really shape american politics were the 1968 and 1972 campaigns. >> first thing i'd like to show you is governor wallace's inaugural address. this is his first inaugural address that he presented on january 14th, 1963. so this is the moment where we really see his first stance as sort of a hard-line
segregationist, and where we start to see this rhetoric that is going to make him a notable figure, not only in alabama politics, but in national politics. >> elections in d.c. is distressing and revealing. we will not sacrifice our children to any such school system and you can write that down. >> so when we look at his 1950 -- george wallace's 1958 inaugural campaign, we actually see a really interesting shift that happens after 1958. so in 1958, he runs for governor against john patterson and in his first gubernatorial election, george wallace actually runs as a racial moderate. so he still is supporting segregation, but he's arguing against klan violence, he's arguing against this hard entrenched segregation that is holding the state back.
and he actually says in one of his filmed campaign speeches in 1958 to paraphrase, he says if i'm not a man that can treat a man fairly regardless of his color, i'm not the man that should be the governor of this fair state. and so that's very different rhetoric from what we see later on in wallace's campaign. so what happens in the 1958 campaign is, you know, wallace really does try to reach this racial moderate and really tries to campaign for the poor and working class alabamians, campaign for progressive improvements. and gets the support of the naacp in this initial campaign. but unfortunately he loses by pretty significant margin to john patterson. and he completely is devastated by the loss. wallace, you know, all he wants to be is governor and he is really upset by this loss and considers it a failing.
and so, you know, when people ask him what the takeaway from the 1958 campaign is, he says, you know, i tried to talk about progressive improvements, i tried to talk about good roads and good schools. and no one would listen. but when i started talking about segregation, everybody stopped and started listening to me. and so what you see is he decides he's going to become this hard-line segregationist. and so we see that come out in his inaugural speech. that is presented on january 14th, 1963. and what happens with the inaugural speech, george wallace actually hires a new speechwriter named esa carter and esa carter is a hard-line segregationist. he is a man that is -- has ties to very violent organizations. he has ties to the klan. and he's very extreme and hard-line when it comes to segregation.
so this is the moment where george wallace, you know, makes his statement that is probably most well known for. >> let us rise to the -- that is in us, and send our -- in the name of the greatest people that have ever trudged this earth. segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever. >> just a few months after wallace gives his influential inaugural address, things begin to heat up as far as civil rights in alabama. in the spring of 1963 and moving into the summer. and so george wallace finds sort of a natural person to have this state's rights national rights
debate with in the form of john f. kennedy and robert kennedy. the kennedys become involved in conversations with george wallace, beginning really in april 1963. they're very concerned about what is going to happen with the integration of schools in alabama. because they're trying to prevent what happened in earlier in mississippi from happening again. so they're really trying to avoid another powder keg and another mob scene happening at a southern university. they know there are students aplying to the university of alabama, challenges that are happening in alabama and they have already seen from conditions decaying in birmingham in the spring of 1963 that there is the potential for violence if integration of the schools doesn't go successfully. what we see here are a selection of telegrams that were exchanged
between kennedy and wallace and also between others who are interested in what was happening in birmingham, in april and may 1963. so the conversation between kennedy and wallace is often contentious and wallace is really looking for a way to set himself up as a national political figure and he uses the integration of the university of alabama as a way to bring himself to the national table. and so he makes this statement that he's going to go and physically stand in the schoolhouse door and bar the students who are seeking admission from the university of alabama. so what you see in this telegram in june 10, 1963, wallace argued that he is the candidate of, you know, maintaining peace in alabama, that that's his soul purpose for going down to the university. so in his telegram, john f. kennedy actually says the only announced threat to orderly
compliance with the law, however, is your plan to bar physically the admission of negro students in defiance of the order of the alabama federal district court and in violation of accepted standards of public conduct. wallace's response is he's still determined to make this public stand at the university of alabama in order, you know, presumably for law and order, but also to advance his candidacy as potentially a national political figure. >> the university of alabama university campus is under tight security guard of state police as george wallace appeals for calm and prepares to confront a deputy u.s. attorney. the federal officers are armed with a proclamation from president kennedy urging the governor to end his efforts to prevent two negro students from registering at the university. the governor is adamant. he made a campaign promise to stand in the doorway himself to prevent the integration of the last all white state university. >> so in this photograph you see
nicholas katzenbalk, the assistant attorney general for the united states and the kennedy representative sent to birmingham to make the federal government's argument for integration at the university. and then, standing in the door, foster auditorium, as promised, you see governor wallace who stands here and makes a statement and states he's not going to leave and he's going to physically bar the admission of james hood and vivian loan, the two african-american students there to integrate the university of alabama. at the event, nicholas katzenbalk reads his statement saying the governor needs to comply with the federal regulations that have been set forth for integration, and george wallace makes his statement that he is defying this intrusion of the federal government into state law to the
integration of state universities. so what you see here is wallace's reading copy that he read from, his statement from that day, on june 11th, 1963. in this speech, wallace really sets up this debate between states rights and federal rights. and as we see here on the second page, he makes a very powerful stance against federal involvement. and he says, i stand here today as governor of this sovereign state, and refuse to willingly submit to illegal usurption of pour power by the central government. so the lasting impact of the speech is not necessarily, you know, that he made a successful stance against desegregation of the university, it is actually that he sets himself up to become a national political figure that is pursuing the
desires of this population that feels like they haven't been heard, this group of white southerners, but also other middle class working americans that feel like their views have been, you know, overshadowed by the federal government. and so once the state troops arrive, about two hours later, about 12:00, wallace, you know, sees the federal troops arrive, he steps down, and walks away. and that's the end of the confrontation. it is interesting to note the contrast between what happens on june 11th, when george wallace arrives in tuscaloosa to make his stand in the schoolhouse door, and what happened just two days later on june 13th, 1963, when the university of alabama's huntsville campus is desegregated with very little fanfare and very little fuss. so what you see here is james mclathery, a mathematics
student, graduate student, and employee at nasa who is walking into this open door to successfully desegregate the university of alabama at huntsville. with very little media attention, very little police presence, and, you know, it is a very stark contrast between what happened just a few days before in tuscaloosa. once the school has successfully desegregated, he sort of moves on into the national political sphere. he's using it as a political launching point. >> i am pleased to announce this morning that more than 100,000 californians have registered as members of the american independent party, in order to give us assistance in gaining a place on the california ballot in next year's general election. >> george wallace makes his first initial run in national politics in 1964, where he enters a few key primaries and does very well there.
but his first major national run comes in 1968 where he has really set himself up through the public appearances that he makes during the desegregation debates. and during the stand in the schoolhouse door, he really sets himself up to be this voice of conservatism that is standing against all of these changes that the federal government is making. so he takes what he's been making -- the segregation argument that he's been making and he broadens it for a national audience. instead of talking specifically about segregation, he talks about, you know, federal power and how it is overtaking the will and the desires of every day americans. and that's a debate that really resonates with a lot of people that feel like their concerns are not being heard, that feel like they're living in a turbulent moment of american history and feel like that, you know, the federal government is
moving too fast with their decisions and feel like their voices aren't being heard. so george wallace, in 1968, sets himself up as a very successful candidate for president. he wins five southern states, and receives over 10 million votes. so he really speaks to a minority that a lot of politicians doesn't realize was out there, that was willing to vote. and so he runs again in 1972, and makes a good showing. but unfortunately what happens in may 15th, 1972, he's speaking at a campaign stop in laurel, maryland, when a man named arthur rimer fires five shots and paralyzes governor wallace. the items that you see here were actually the items that george wallace was carrying in the --
in his pockets on the day he was shot. and what is really remarkable about these is, you know, it really humanizes wallace because these are items that we would have in our pockets or purses, you know, today. it is so simple. he's always carrying around a pack of cinnamon gum, has his chapstick, and his book of matches from one of the hotels he's picked up. what happens after the shooting in wallace's political career is that, you know, he has this moment where he's in constant pain, he's coming to the realization that he's never going to walk again, but he still is very interested in running and campaigning. so he makes one more presidential run in 1976, which is very short lived and very unsuccessful, and a lot of the reason of that is because people have questions about whether he's physically capable of serving as president. and then after the '76 campaign ends in defeat, he moved back to
alabama and starts making a run for governor again. and because he's in constant pain, and because he's dealing with the realities of his life now, he becomes reflective on et have happened before that. and so in the 1970s, you start seeing him calling up, you know, the african-americans he feels like he's wronged and asking for, you know, forgiveness. and you see him in his last gubernatorial campaign in 1982 making a very emotional reach out to the african-american community, asking for forgiveness and asking for a chance to redeem his political career. george wallace lived for several more years after he retired from politics, but he was in constant pain and had very poor physical health. he finally died in 1998. you know, alabama and really the
nation is still trying to come to terms with the legacy of george wallace, because you know, as a national politician, even though george wallace was never elected, his presidential campaigns are really influential and they changed, you know, the conservative movement, and they changed the way that future politicians phrased certain debates. so you see after wallace a greater focus on especially republican candidates talking about federal government and federal abuse of power and the fear that the federal government has gotten too large and are making large changes. you know, and they couch it in language that is very similar to what governor wallace is using. it's still a debate that's going on today in national politics. but in the state itself, you know, we're dealt with the two wallaces. we have the wallace that, you know, supported improvements to public education. we have technical colleges all
across the state that bear the names of george wallace and marlene wallace, who educated generations of students. you know, and so that stands to his legacy as someone that was interested in the needs of alabama's people. but we're also still dealing with that very painful legacy of segregationist rhetoric. and i think one of the most wonderful examples of that is actually some of the speeches that george wallace's family have made recently. so what you're looking at now is a speech that was given by peggy wallace kennedy in montgomery, alabama. this is a speech that was given in 2015, the day after the bloody sunday, 15th anniversary celebration was held in selma. she's speaking to a group of congressmen coming down with john lewis to speak with her.
i think one of the most powerful parts of this speech is the moment where she directly addresses congressman john lewis. and she says, you know, she talks about this moment in march 2009 where they walk across the bridge together and they hold hands. and she realizes this is such a wonderful gift that she's been given to be able to have this moment with john lewis, where they have moved beyond the pains of the past and they're looking towards the alabama of the future. and in the final line of her speech, she says but today as george wallace's daughter and as a person of my own, i want to do for you what my father should have done and recognize you for your humanity and for your dignity as a child of god, as a person of good will and character, and as a fellow alabamaen. and say welcome home. >> american history tv in primetime continues tonight with
a look at the life and legacy of four-time presidential candidate and former alabama governor george wallace. beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern with c-span's contenders series and followed by archive 8 video of his 1968 campaign and his push to get on the california ballot. also a tour of the george wallace collection at the alabama department of archives and history. and a discussion of segregation and politics in the 1960s in alabama. that's tonight, beginning at 8:00 eastern here on c-span3. >> when george wallace was governor of alabama during the 1960s, he fiercely supported segregation in his state. famously standing in the schoolhouse door to prevent the enrollment of black students at the university of alabama. governor wallace later retracted these views and he apologized for his segregationist policies. in this program, historians dan carter, glenn eskew and angela
lewis discuss the life and legacy of george wallace. they look at whether political concerns or racism motivated him to oppose integration. this event took place at the birmingham public library in birmingham, alabama. it's about 90 minutes. >> in birmingham, they loved the governor. this line from lynyrd skynyrd's 1974 home "sweet home alabama" may be one of the most debated lines from one of the most debated songs in american music. george wallace was so taken with the song when he first heard it that he planned to issue a special gubernatorial citation to lynyrd skynyrd. but then one of the governor's aides suggest he listen more closely to the line that follows "in birmingham they love the governor." the next line -- anybody remember?