Chamblee54

Lester Maddox

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on December 30, 2010







There has never been a politician like Lester Garfield Maddox. He was elected Governor of Georgia (with help of a quirk in the state constitution) in 1966. PG was 12 at the time, and saw the spectacle of the next four years with amazement.

Before we get started on this, we should remember a couple of things. Lester Maddox became notorious when he shut down his restaurant, The Pickrick, rather than serve a black customer. He was a segregationist, which means he did not want black people to have the same rights as white people. Looking back for 2010, it seems incredible that civil rights legislation was needed 46 years ago, so that 30% of Georgia could eat in a restaurant. PG does not condone the actions and attitudes of Lester Maddox, or the people who supported him.

There is style, and there is substance. While the substance of Lester may have been horrible, the style was a sight to behold. He could ride a bicycle backwards, and did so whenever a crowd was there to watch. ( PG saw this at halftime of the Peach Bowl.) He was on The Joe Pyne Show and The Dick Cavett Show, and walked off of both.

This section from a previous post tells a bit of the story.
The Governor was speaking to a group of reporters. He was announcing the appointment of a Black man to the Selective Service Board in some Georgia town. The reporter said it was the first Black man to serve on a draft board since reconstruction. What did the Governor think about this?The Governor said “Gee”
The screen returned to the Channel Five newsroom. The men at the desks were all laughing. The weatherman looked up at the camera and said “Thats a tough act to follow”
Whatever you might say about Lester Maddox…and there is no shortage of bad things to say…there has never been a public official that entertaining. As for being a tough act to follow, the next Governor was Jimmy Carter.
As for the weatherman, PG saw him  in a parking lot once. It was raining heavily. The “Gray Ghost” looked at PG with an ironic smile, as if to say “I am sorry”.

In 1970, the Governor of Georgia could not succeed himself. Lester ran for Lt. Governor, and spent the next four years feuding with Governor Jimmy Carter. Lester ran for a second term in 1974, and was trounced by George Busbee.( The slogan : “Elect a work horse, not a show horse.”) When Jimmy ran for President in 1976, Lester made a point of badmouthing Jimmy. In his own way, Lester Maddox helped Jimmy Carter get elected President.

There is a youtube video of the appearance of Lester on the Joe Pyne show. (Another guest that night was Culius Jeezer, who claimed to be 2000 years old). A video of the time Lester was on the Dick Cavett show has not emerged. ( Mr. Cavett has gotten old. He discusses the night Lester was on his show in this video .) Another guest that night was Truman Capote. After Lester walked off the show, Mr. Capote said, in his own inimitable way, ” I ate at his restaurant one time, and all I have to say is, it was not finger licking good”.

Pictures are from ” The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”.




3 Responses

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  1. gary Simmons said, on December 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    PG

    I have a question. Toward the end of Lester’s life didn’t he change his way of thinking and went on tour with a civil rights activist. For the life of me I can’t think of the black man’s name.

  2. Lester Maddox « Chamblee54 said, on December 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    […] This is a repost. […]


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