Tom Turnipseed, Wallace Staff on racism in the campaign
Q:If someone said this was a racist campaign, what would you tell them?
I would, too, back then. I was in total denial and people are in denial today -- white America, in my opinion, Tom Turnipseed's opinion -- are absolute denial today because many of the same issues are still there. I just wished people could empathize a little bit more with the history of African American people in this country -- from the Middle Passage when they were brought over here on slave ships to 1998 when you've got a tremendous attack on affirmative action going on right now. Well, as a matter of fact, for 350 years, African American kids couldn't get into the University of Texas, or however long you've had the University of Texas. Or the University of California or anywhere else. And when you look at the tremendous disparity in income in this country, in the fact that it wasn't just slavery. It wasn't but 12 years of reconstruction that blacks had any rights in the South to speak of and then came the Jim Crow laws when African American people could not vote anymore. And they, you know, their schools were, in South Carolina, they couldn't go to school for like six months a year so they'd work on the farms. And for people to just wink at that and not want to think about it and not face up to it is the biggest problem we have in America today. It's the biggest social disease we have.