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Oral history interview with Governor Lester Maddox, 1986 April 17

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Creator:Maddox, Lester, 1915-2003
Creator:Steely, Mel
Creator:Fitz-Simons, Ted
Creator:University of West Georgia. Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program
Title:Oral history interview with Governor Lester Maddox, 1986 April 17
Date:1986 Apr. 17

Lester Maddox (1915-2003) was born to a working class family on September 30, 1915 in Atlanta. He dropped out of high school to work, and received a draft deferment during World War II due to employment in an essential industry. He opened the Pickrick Cafeteria in 1947, and became as widely known for his segregationist political commentary, as for his food. Maddox ran for office several times with no success, but became known nationally after a picture of him and supporters holding axe handles turning away black patrons ran in papers nationally in 1964. In 1966 he entered the Democratic primary for governor and defeated liberal former governor Ellis Arnall. Maddox managed a victory in a tumultuous election that ended up being decided by the overwhelmingly Democratic Georgia legislature.; Surprising to many, Maddox governed in a more moderate manner than expected and appointed more African Americans to government offices than all previous governors combined. He backed prison reform and secured more funding for the state's university system. Maddox could not serve a consecutive term as governor, so ran and won the office of lieutenant governor, where he often clashed with Governor Jimmy Carter. He went back into private business after leaving public office. Maddox died of cancer in 2003.; This interview is conducted by Dr. Mel Steely and Ted Fitz-Simons on April 17, 1986 at the University of West Georgia.; In this interview, Dr. Steely begins by asking Maddox how he came to be involved in politics, and why he continued to run even though he was defeated several times. He states that he is unafraid of controversy, which led to his polarized campaigns. He then discusses some of his strongest supporters and describes the responsibility of being in politics as making a commitment to the people as well as to making Georgia the best it could be. Dr. Steely also asks about Maddox's initial reactions to Vandiver's actions regarding the integration of the public schools of Georgia. He states that he sees himself as an underdog, which is why he chose to focus on prison reform. He states that he considers his biggest contribution to the state of Georgia was appointing African Americans to his offices, and his educational ideas. He also candidly shares his real feelings about former Presidents Nixon, Carter, and Johnson. He later refers to himself as "a little Republican, a little Democrat, and a lot of Independent" in regards to his views on the party system. He discusses his take on white supremacy versus the Civil Rights movement.

Types:oral histories (literary works) | moving images | MovingImage
Subjects:Maddox, Lester, 1915-2003 | Maddox, Lester, 1915-2003--Interviews | Arnall, Ellis Gibbs, 1907-1992 | Busbee, George, 1927-2004 | Callaway, Howard H. (Howard Hollis), 1927- | King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968 | Carter, Jimmy, 1924- | Harris, Joe Frank | Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978 | Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973 | Lane, Mills B. (Mills Bee), 1912-1989 | Maddox, Virginia Cox, 1919-1997 | McGill, Ralph, 1898-1969 | Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972 | Vandiver, S. Ernest (Samuel Ernest), 1918- | Sanders, Carl Edward, 1925- | Georgia--Politics and government--1865-1950 | Georgia--Politics and government--1951- | Governors--Georgia | Legislators--Georgia | United States. Civil Rights Act of 1964 | Georgia. General Assembly | Guaranteed Annual Wage--Georgia | Guaranteed Annual Wage--United States | Race relations--Georgia | Race relations--United States | National Association for the Advancement of Colored People | Primaries | Georgia--Governor--Election | Prison reformers | Segregation--Georgia | Segregation--United States | Public welfare--United States | School integration--Georgia | White supremacy movements | Civil rights movements | Pickrick Cafeteria (Atlanta, Ga.) | Georgia--Governor--Election, 1970 | Georgia--Governor--Election, 1974 | United States, Georgia, 32.75042, -83.50018
Collection:Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program
Institution:University of West Georgia Special Collections
Contributors:University of West Georgia. Special Collections
Original Material:

Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program oral history interviews. Annie Belle Weaver Special Collections, Irvine Sullivan Ingram Library, State University of West Georgia

Carrollton, Ga. : University of West Georgia Special Collections in association with the Digital Library of Georgia

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Cite as: [interview title], Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program oral history interviews. Annie Belle Weaver Special Collections, Irvine Sullivan Ingram Library, University of West Georgia

Persistent Link to Item:http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/uwg/phc/do:maddox2