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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 >>

Opposition to march was only for logistical reasons

Wallace remembers the violence during the Selma to Montgomery March. He does not recall any serious violence, and says that his only opposition to the march stemmed from his concern that due to its length, he could not arrange adequate protection. He notes that many other cities experienced violent clashes over civil rights.

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

The Selma bridge was an unfortunate incident. No use to talk about it now. It wasn't handled the way I wanted it handled. My only concern about marching at that time was the distance between here and Selma and the report I got informed me that I did not have enough personnel to guarantee maximum safety, including the numbers and vehicles and so forth and the cars. And I wanted to delay until I could get sufficient forces. And I had to get them from the federal GOV.ernment. To guarantee absolute safety. Because I did not want anybody hurt on that march. In the Selma bridge incident nobody got hurt. Nobody had to go to the hospital.
JACK BASS:
I think some people did get hurt in that march.
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
How'd they get hurt? Who got hurt?
JACK BASS:
John Lewis had his skull fractured. He was hit on the head with a club.
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Who?
JACK BASS:
John Lewis, who is now at the voter education project in Atlanta.
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Well, I didn't know that. But nobody as I understood got, even had to be hospitalized over there at the bridge. But I'm not saying . . . the bridge confrontation could have been handled differently and I'm sorry it was handled exactly like it was. But actually the troopers were worried about them getting across the river where there was a group of . . . people . . . antagonists on the other side and were trying to keep them from getting over there. Because they thought if they did get over there and got tied up, they couldn't get them separated.
JACK BASS:
Did you watch that confrontation on television?
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Yeah. Did you watch the one in Los Angeles? Did you watch the one in Harlem? Did you watch the one in Baltimore? Did you watch the one in Boston? Did you watch the one in Jacksonville? Did you watch the one in North Carolina—the several. Did you watch the one in Richmond? Did you watch the one in Washington? Where was all the people hurt. Eight or nine got their heads skinned over there and the other places, 25 got killed, 475 got injured, 2,000 got injured. So when you start talking about incidents involving race, why, go to some place where they really did something.