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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George Wallace, July 15, 1974. Interview A-0024. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Policies that help blacks get Wallace black votes

Wallace was not surprised by the support he received from the black community in his 1974 reelection. He created programs that benefited African Americans and received their gratitude, he says.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George Wallace, July 15, 1974. Interview A-0024. 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:
You spoke of your 1974 election this year and having support from people of both races. Were you surprised at the black support you got this year?
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
No.
JACK BASS:
How do you account for that?
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Well, I'd received black support in the past and the program that I had inaugurated in this state . . . the junior college program, the free text book program, the industrial development program. At one time we had 3.6% unemployment in Alabama a year and a half ago, before the energy crisis. One of the lowest in the nation. Among blacks and whites. And every black official had been to this office, when he wants to come. The lawyers who practiced in my court when I was a judge in the '50s, black lawyers, all you have to do is ask them how they were treated. You can go ask them. You can ask Arthur Shores. You can ask Fred Grey. And I don't think Fred Grey has ever supported me politically and I don't even know whether Shores has or not, either. But the programs that enured to the benefit of the mass of black people in this state and they know that I've never made any speech in my life that reflected upon them. In my early political career I never did. In fact I served on the board of trustees of Tuskegee Institute back in 1951 and 2, because of my interest as a legislator in trying to acquire more funds for the school. But the people of our state were never anti-black, as you can see by the relationships that exist now. But they were anti-GOV.ernment, big GOV.ernment, trying to run all their schools. That was their great gripe. Step in and take charge of every school system and every jury box and every voter list and every Congressional district and every legislative district. And they resented that. And there was nothing I ever said during the times of '63 or '64 that would offend anybody because of his race. Unless, being for the system that had existed for so long, our school system . . . if that offended you, being for that, then you'd be offended. But as far as getting up and talking about people. . . . I've never talked about inferiority. I never talked about anybody had less rights than others. Talked about every citizen's entitled to equal rights under the constitution of Alabama and under the constitution of the United States. And I was not surprised.
WALTER DE VRIES:
What significance is there in J. Cooper's support and Johnny Ford's? What's the significance in the state, as well as nationally?
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Well, they realize that I have tried, in my judgment, they realize that I have tried to work for all the people of this state. That I've been concerned with city GOV.ernments. That I've been concerned with the problems. That my door is open to people of all races. And that programs that I've sponsored have enured to the benefit of the people of this state, white and black.
WALTER DE VRIES:
We've heard the charge that they only did that because they wanted to use you to get funds, get state funds.
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Wanted to use me?
WALTER DE VRIES:
To get state funds. More state appropriations.
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Well, they haven't gotten any. They haven't asked for anything in the world. I've helped Johnny Ford and Mobile with new industrial development programs, which we help every city. But not a one of them have gotten any. . . . What have they gotten from the state? Tuskegee Institute has always gotten a good appropriation. They've gotten no revenue sharing funds, you know, for any purposes I know of. We gave some to the dock down there, which helps black and white. But you'll have to ask them. All I know is they supported me, but they've never asked . . . they've never made any unreasonable requests or demands on me or asked for anything other than that we keep on doing what we're doing. And the records will show that they've gotten no extra consideration other than what other cities and towns have gotten.