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J.L. Chestnut, Civil Rights activist, on
Wallace's impact on Alabama

J.L. Chestnut Q:Do you think Alabama would have been better off if Wallace had never existed?

A: People ask me often, whether or not this state would have been better off had George Wallace never existed. And the answer is an unqualified yes. And to see that all you have to do is look at states like North Carolina and other states, where you had progressive governors who said, "What we are going to do here is to have industrial expansion. What we are going to try to do is bring our people together. We're going to try to attract industry here. We're going to lift our people up." And what we had in Alabama was somebody talking about segregation today and forever. Being divisive in the worst kind of ways. Look at Atlanta and look at Birmingham. These are two different worlds. One, we had George Wallace presiding and the other we didn't have a George Wallace, even though you had a bad politician over there, he was no George Wallace. Look at Florida. Look all around you, and you can see the impact to Wallace and the kind of movement he led. Surely we would have been much better off without Wallace. We'd have been much further down the road toward progress, not only in terms of race relations, but in terms of the development of this state economically and otherwise. George Wallace's legacy continues today. We have a governor now who is not using race, he's using religion. He's going to call out the National Guard in order to protect the Ten Commandments in some judge's courtroom. Here is a page out of George Wallace's textbook. We have just substituted religion for race. That's part of Wallace's legacy.

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