Comic Books #18: The Racist South

I've lived all over this country, and I think I speak with some experience when I say that racism exists every bit as much in the North as it does in the South. Don't get me wrong, prejudice is alive and well in the rural South - but no less than it is in rural Wyoming or Colorado. Caucasian dominated urban areas like Seatle and Salt Lake City may give lip service to equal rights, but one wonders how these same folks would hold up in Selma or Atlanta where they have to put their money where their mouth is. The South gets a bad rap, I think.

However, that reputation was earned. The racism prevalent in the South in the 1960's and earlier was disgraceful. It wasn't all that long ago, and for many the memory is fresh.  It will take awhile to rebuild an image founded in cruelty and hatred toward their fellow man. I stumbled across this 1961 campaign flyer for the election of George Wallace as Governor of Alabama called "Stand Up for Alabama". It's pretty horrifying.

This guy makes Archie Bunker look like Martin Luther King, Jr..  It's profoundly disturbing that he got to be Governor of Alabama as late as 1970!

The only people Wallace hated as much as African Americans were the hippies (the feeling was mutual I think). He promised to run demonstrators over who got in the way of  his limousine, and famously said that the only 4 letter words hippies don't know are "work" and "soap". Kinda funny actually.

Another quote: "The President [John F. Kennedy] wants us to surrender this state to Martin Luther King and his group of pro-Communists who have instituted these demonstrations."

Also, to the hippies he said: ""I was killing fascists when you punks were in diapers." Nevermind that their generation was coming home in body bags by the thousands from Vietnam.

"Stand Up for Alabama" includes this nice little campaign promise....

In the late seventies, Wallace had a change of heart. He admitted he was wrong, and his last term as Alabama's governor was much more open minded and no longer supported segregation. However, the damage had been done, the nation's  impression of the South had been solidified. But, for Wallace, he was now married to a smoking hot wife, had tons of money and was a "born again Christian". The South looked like a bunch of Boss Hogg racists, but Wallace was livin' la vida loca.


  1. My parents moved to Atlanta in '69 or '70. They were playing cards with another couple one time and the guy said something approving about Wallace and my mom said "I'd never vote that biggoted jerk." The guy got up and went in his room and wouldn't come out for the rest of the night!

  2. Well said and quite true. Here in Cleveland and in most other northern cities, when the black population moved up the white population moved out. But, in my experience, Southerners have a particularly deep & abiding racism. Blacks were still being lynched down there when I was a kid in the '60s. Still, I've heard a lot of the same vitriol shared throughout the nation and not just aimed at blacks.

  3. Was this in a comic-book format? Kind of fitting, if so. Not that it's funny....

  4. northern states are racist too
    well said

  5. Not long after Wallace's death, I'd heard something to the effect that he'd only picked up his extremist views when he found they scored political points - which is somehow more reprehensible than holding those views from the get-go.

    On a complete other tangent, those comic book pages remind me of the National Lampoon that depicted his '72 presidential campaign in an EC horror-comic format.

  6. When Wallace ran for President in 1968, there was a family on the next block from us here in Kentucky that supported him to the point where they spelled out his name in Christmas tree lights on the front of their house and littered their yard with Wallace signs. Their poor son who was in my school was ridiculed and to make matters worse, they left up the lights and signs long after the election ended!

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Oh dear god, it's terrifying to think that there were people like this in elected office so recently. Horrifying and appalling.

  9. Worse than Wallace are these #%*@% Chinese spammers; I've deleted two on this post alone. Cut it out!!

  10. I know the feeling Gilligan (Chinese spammers), just deleted one from my blog the other day.

    As for Gov. Wallace. He was a piece of work, but by means he wasn't the worst of them. There was Senators Ben Tillman, Cotton Ed Smith, Theodore Bilbo and Governors Eugene Talmadge and Ross Barnett...all unapologetic racists, especially if it means scoring political points.

    And up north, there was Mayor Orville Hubbard of Dearborn, MI...even though in public, denied he was racist, made it clear that African-Americans were not welcome.

    I'm glad this country made substantial progress since then, we still have ways to go.

  11. Hope you had a good rest.
    Wallace was big in the white burbs of Michigan after the riots.I think he was like most politicians in that they will adapt any popular position to get elected. When segregation could no longer get him votes it was dropped and he became "born again."
    It's called re-branding today.

    Damned Chinese spammers. Probably midgets.

  12. And then somebody popped a cap in his ass.