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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Bert Nettles, July 13, 1974. Interview A-0015. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Republicans and race relations

Though the Republican Party in the South headed toward neoconservativism during the 1970s, Nettles repeatedly insists during this interview that the stance fails to honor the heritage of the party and is not the key to the party's future. He discusses what he believes the most important tactics are: winning the urban areas and winning the black vote.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Bert Nettles, July 13, 1974. Interview A-0015. 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:
Will there be Republicans in the senate next year?
BERT NETTLES:
I don't know. We have a possibility of one or two. It's going to be difficult. The problem was that we were all set and ready to go with single member legislative districts for the first time. You see. Our strength's in the urban areas, primarily. And what we had to do in the past was run . . . my constituency in Mobile county, the two times I got elected . . . over 300,000 people. You've got certain Republican areas. Your white collar areas. Generally qualify as Republicans. But those areas can be swallowed up in a hurry when you get out in the rural sections of the county, the blue collar areas and the black areas. And although we've tried to make overtones . . . . Really not just tried to make overtones, we have courted the black vote. It's still, when it comes down to a Democrat vs a Republican, we [try to] cut our loses as much as we can. So long as a Republican can attract 30 to 40% of the black vote . . . in the past that's been figured as giving him a chance to win. We haven't been able to do that even with some of the candidates that have been running, you know. Wallace type. What's so discouraging, you've got, you find these Wallace candidates . . . the people who vote the hard line on every type of conceivable vote aimed against the black segment of the community. And yet get a lot of that support in the election simply because they're Democrat.
JACK BASS:
But you're able to get 30 to 40% of the black vote?
BERT NETTLES:
Oh yes. In fact, in my elections I've gotten a majority of the votes voting for a non-black candidate. I've had black . . . . The first time I got elected, there was a black candidate running. Most of the blacks voted for him. Of the blacks who voted for either the Democrat or the Republican, I got a majority. The last time around, I got . . . I think I got a majority of the black vote. There was not a black candidate. I had a very hard core Wallace type candidate, young articulate, very personable. Wallace came down and personally campaigned for. And I had one vote that they kept throwing up to me. I was the only person re-elected to the house who voted against Wallace's stand on Pritchard school house resolution in 1969.