Charlotte Talks: Once The Face Of Segregation, George Wallace Took 'Broken Road' To Reconciliation

Jan 22, 2020

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020

Martin Luther King Jr. once called George Wallace, the late governor of Alabama, "the most dangerous racist in America." Wallace later tried to make amends with African Americans, and his daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, has written about that path to reconciliation.

Peggy Wallace Kennedy was only 12 years old when her father took office with a vow of "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever."

Alabama Gov. George Wallace, left inside doorway, attempted to physically block the integration of the University of Alabama in 1963.
Credit Library of Congress / U.S. News and World Report

She didn't understand what her father was saying at the time, but came to realize his politics weren't the same as hers.

It took an attempt on his life for George Wallace to renounce his past. But Wallace Kennedy continued to live under her father's shadow. 

A question from her young son - "Why did Paw Paw do those things to other people?" - led Wallace Kennedy to see the need for a new Wallace legacy.

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Credit Peggy Wallace Kennedy

Peggy Wallace Kennedy, author of "The Broken Road: George Wallace and a Daughter's Journey to Reconciliation"