Daughter of Segregationist Forges Path to Tolerance
Bill Plante, CBS News, March 6, 2013
“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” Alabama Governor George Wallace once said at his inauguration in 1963.
Wallace personified racist defiance of civil rights. Six months later, he blocked the doors of the University of Alabama to prevent integration.
His daughter Peggy was 13 at the time.
On whether she thought her father’s earlier positions were wrong when she was young, Peggy Wallace said: “My mother kept us very, very sheltered. So there were a lot of things we didn’t know about. And so we weren’t able to think about them or have an opinion.”
Peggy Wallace married and raised two sons in Alabama, rarely speaking about her father — until she watched America elect its first black president.
She decided she would start on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a place where 48 years ago this week, her father ordered police to brutally attack civil rights marchers. It became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Congressman John Lewis was badly beaten that day in 1965. But for the last five years to mark the anniversary, Peggy Wallace Kennedy has walked with Lewis across the Pettus Bridge.
“I told him, ‘I’ve crossed many bridges in my life, and I’ll cross many, many more. But the most important bridge I’ll ever cross in my life is the one I crossed with you,’ in 2009,” she said.