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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with U. W. Clemon, July 17, 1974. Interview A-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Dismay at blacks who endorsed George Wallace

Clemon resents those black legislators who endorsed George Wallace, because their endorsement gives false credence to claims that Wallace is a new man. Clemon thinks a Kennedy-Wallace ticket would win, although black voters would go for their opponents.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with U. W. Clemon, July 17, 1974. Interview A-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
How do you react to those black elected officials who endorsed Wallace this past time?
U. W. CLEMON:
Well, I have very strong feelings against what they did. I don't understand it. Johnny Ford may have been able to get some money for Tuskegee through the governor's office. And if that's why he did it, perhaps it was the politically expedient thing to do. Jay Cooper may have been able to get some money for Pritchard through an endorsement of Wallace. I guess if I were mayor of such a city, it is a factor which I would have to consider. On consideration of that. . . the effect of such an endorsement, I think that in all probability I would reject it.
JACK BASS:
Why?
U. W. CLEMON:
Because I think it gives undue credence to the effort to portray Wallace as a man who has forgotten about his racist past. Because of that, it— [Interruption.] —possibility that Wallace will ever have to deal effectively with black people in this state. I think, you know, that when Wallace was endorsed by black politicians such as Johnny Ford, the effect becomes the same as the declaration in Newsweek magazine that Wallace received 20% of the black vote in the most recent election—which is just not so. The fact that Johnny Ford endorsed Wallace and said that Wallace is an all right man on the race issue means that a lot of people in other parts of the country will believe that. They will not question his credentials on that issue again. And if so, those of us who have lived here under his regime from day to day, it sells us short.
JACK BASS:
How do you react to someone like Charles Evers?
U. W. CLEMON:
Well, I just have to be brutally frank about Charles Evers. I have never been one who respected the intellectual ability of Charles Evers. I mean frankly I think Charles Evers is stupid. I think that in this instance he was trying to jump on a bandwagon which he imagined was about to start rolling.
JACK BASS:
The reason I asked about Evers, of course, is that there's no way that George Wallace is going to send any money to Fayette, Mississippi.
U. W. CLEMON:
Yeah, that's quite true. You know, there may be more sinister motives involved. I say sinister. . . . It may very well be that some of the Democrats in Washington have passed the word to people such as Evers that it would be a smart move to endorse Wallace. That Wallace on the '76 ticket with somebody like Kennedy would be a winner across the country. And maybe it would be.
JACK BASS:
What do you think would happen . . . . This is really a theoretical question. . . . if you ended up with a Kennedy-Wallace ticket and a Ford-Brook ticket?
U. W. CLEMON:
I think probably Kennedy and Wallace would win.
JACK BASS:
Among blacks in the South?
U. W. CLEMON:
Well, among blacks in the South Ford and Brook probably would make it. But nation-wide I think Kennedy and Wallace would. Nation wide I think that many whites, many unknown whites might find the idea of Ford sharing the ticket with Brook as distasteful as some blacks in the South would find the idea of Kennedy sharing the ticket with Wallace.