- NAME: George Wallace
- OCCUPATION: U.S. Governor
- BIRTH DATE: August 25, 1919
- DEATH DATE: September 13, 1998
- EDUCATION: Barbour County High School, University of Alabama School of Law
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Clio, Alabama
- PLACE OF DEATH: Montgomery, Alabama
- AKA: George Corley Wallace
- Full Name: George Corley Wallace Jr.
- AKA: George C. Wallace
- AKA: George Wallace
- Nickname: The Fighting Little Judge
Best Known For
George Wallace was a four-time governor of Alabama and three-time presidential hopeful. He is best remembered for his 1960s segregationist politics.
Bloody Sunday (4:04)
When George Wallace first ran for Governor in 1958 he was considered a moderate on the race issue. But after he lost, he ran again in 1962 and won on a platform of racial segregation and was backed by the Ku Klux Klan.
On March 7, 1965 around 600 people crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in an attempt to begin the Selma to Montgomery march. State troopers violently attacked the peaceful demonstrators in an attempt to stop the march for voting rights.
On Sunday, March 21, 1965, nearly 8,000 people began the five-day march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights.
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George Wallace was born in Clio, Alabama, on August 25, 1919. After law school and military service, he embarked on a career as a judge and local politician. He served four terms as Alabama governor, from the 1960s through the 1980s, and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. presidency three times. Despite his later efforts to revise his public image, Wallace is remembered for his strong support of racial segregation in the '60s. He died in Montgomery, Alabama, on September 13, 1998.
"In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
"I don't expect people to forget my brash words or deeds. But I ask that they try to remember the actions that I took that were designed to help them."
George Corley Wallace Jr. was born on August 25, 1919, in Clio, Alabama. His father, George Corley Sr., was a farmer. His mother, Mozelle Smith Wallace, had been abandoned by her mother and raised in an orphanage in Mobile as a young girl.
Wallace took up boxing as a boy, and won two Golden Gloves state titles while he was a student at Barbour County High School. When he was 15 years old, he served as a legislative page at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. He enrolled at the University of Alabama School of Law in 1937, and graduated with a law degree in 1942.
After graduating from law school, George C. Wallace entered the U.S. Air Force and served during the World War II. He flew multiple bombing missions over Japan in 1945, and was later discharged with a medical disability.
Returning to Alabama, Wallace reunited with his wife, Lurleen (née Burns), whom he'd married in 1943. Deciding to enter local law and politics, Wallace became an assistant to the state attorney general in 1946. The following year, he was elected to the Alabama State Legislature, where he served for two terms.
In 1953, Wallace was elected judge in the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Alabama—a position that he held through 1958. He was given the nickname "The Fighting Little Judge" in reference to his boxing days and his tough approach to his work.
Meanwhile, Wallace was making plans to run for the governorship of his home state. He lost at his first attempt, in 1958. In 1962, when he ran again on a platform of racial segregation and states' rights and was backed by the Ku Klux Klan, he won the election. His inaugural speech concluded with the infamous line, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
In another event of 1963 that cemented the public perception of the new Alabama governor, Wallace led a "stand-in the schoolhouse door" to prevent two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from enrolling at the University of Alabama, until the National Guard intervened. He continued to oppose integration throughout his term.
When the Alabama legislature refused to change the state Constitution to allow him to run for a second term, Wallace put his wife, Lurleen, on the ballot in his place in 1966. After winning a landslide election, she died in office in 1968. Wallace himself was elected again in 1970, and won two more elections in 1974 and 1982—becoming the first individual (and only person to date) to fill four terms as governor of Alabama.
Visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BRCI), a museum, research center and teaching facility in Birmingham, Alabama. BRCI is dedicated to documenting the American Civil Rights Movement, and promoting civil and human rights worldwide through education.
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A good party always has some surprises—and that goes for political parties, too. Though the United States has had a two-party system for most of its history, party loyalty is not always written in stone. Over the years many politicians have switched sides, for ideological, political, and strategic reasons. Here are some of the politicians who have crossed to the other side of the aisle.
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