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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Gore's support for voting rights

Gore believes that much of the reason his stance on civil rights, especially voting rights, did not raise greater opposition in Tennessee was Crump's use of the black vote in Memphis.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. 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

JAMES B. GARDNER:
I understand that in that '57 legislation one of your primary interests had been voting rights legislation. Wouldn't that have been an important difference? Rather than broad civil rights support, your emphasis, I understand, was on voting rights, which was a shade different. It didn't involve quite the challenge to Southern society that some people suspected.
ALBERT GORE:
Well, it did in some states. It didn't in Tennessee because . . . well, Crump had built his power on black votes, on controlled black votes. But blacks were voting in many parts of Tennessee, in most parts of Tennessee. Many of them at that time were still voting Republican. But voting rights was a defensible position. You could feasibly go before most any audience and defend the right to vote, which I did.
JAMES B. GARDNER:
Was Tennessee that much more moderate than other Southern states?
ALBERT GORE:
Yes, it was.
JAMES B. GARDNER:
How do you account for the moderation?
ALBERT GORE:
Well, largely because of the prominence of Crump. He had built his power on the black vote. Maybe it was extreme: there were stories of him hauling them from Mississippi and voting, some of them, thirteen times. But here was the most influential political leader in the state building his power on the black vote. If Memphis could do it why couldn't Nashville do it? Why couldn't they vote in Carthage, Tennessee, in the Democratic primary? For a long time we had one man here, one black who voted in the Democratic primary. But over a period of years . . .