Before my readers lose their minds, please know that I disagreed with George Wallace on most issues. He would have apoplexy were he alive today and knew I am a socialist revolutionary.
I knew and worked for George Wallace for eight years, from 1968 until 1976.
I was a civil rights activist and an anti-war activist while I came to know and respect Wallace. We became as close as father and son. I loved the man, if not his policies.
Originally, my thinking was that if Robert Kennedy could learn politics at the feet of Joseph McCarthy, I could similarly learn at the feet of George Wallace.
Wallace was an admirer of Huey Long, as am I. In another time and place Wallace would have been Huey Long. Wallace harbored progressive views which he was more than willing to trade away for political advantage. He frequently spoke of being “out-niggered” in his earliest campaign for governor of Alabama. He was morally deficient in his attitudes toward black Americans and animals.
Wallace was a demagogue on racial issues, but a populist on everything else. He frequently would consult me on what “you hippies” thought about an issue.
The most valuable lesson he taught me was to prioritize those issues that were important to me and to be willing to trade away those of lesser importance for those of greater importance.
Wallace was a flawed but wonderfully sensitive and caring person. I like to think I had something to do with the apologies he made to Jesse Jackson in 1984.
I ran his third party campaign in California in 1968. I ran his write-in campaign in the California Democratic primary in 1972 and was a floor manager for Wallace at the 1972 Democratic convention in Miami. In 1976 I directed his campaign in the Democratic primaries in all states west of the Mississippi. Wallace endorsed Jimmy Carter in the 1976 general election against Gerald Ford. Which Carter won,
I was the only person Wallace recommended for a position in Carter’s administration.
That did not work out as well as I would have hoped! (the subject of another piece!). Lol!
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