Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Montage of images and link description. George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
The Film & More
Interview Transcripts | Primary Sources Documents | Further Reading

Tom Turnipseed, Wallace Staff on
Wallace rallying the crowds

Tom Turnipseed Q:Tell us about Wallace at rallies. How he'd react to things?

A: Governor Wallace was the most energetic campaigner. He just fed off crowds. In fact, he liked to show the media pictures of crowds and tell how many were there. Like, "Last night in Detroit, I had 15,000 people." But he was very much energized by the crowds, and in this whole idea of these rabble-rousing lines, you know, and if he'd see one would turn him on, a little bit more he'd add to it, and embellish it a little bit. I remember the first day I went to work with him. I had seen him in Greenville, South Carolina, one time, and they were having a lot of problems in urban areas, and riots and so forth at the time. And he said, "Well, you know, these psychologists and liberals and politicians want to say that folks are justified and rioting and burning down these cities," he says. "But," he says, "if all kinds of problems ahead, it usually was they were deprived like they didn't have enough watermellon to eat." You know, and then the crowd of rednecks would go crazy on that because [he was] talking about black folks, you know.

I never will forget the first rally I went to. I wasn't working with him, you know, I just went to the rallies. Was when I still worked for the private school association; was out in California in Redwood City. And we were in San Francisco, in the Bay Area, and he used the same line, except out there, he tried this, "They'd say that these folks that are burning down these cities were deprived of things as young. It's like, ... moms or daddies didn't have any 49ers tickets, so they couldn't go to the ball game. And he would just constantly be trying out little funny lines and things like that. That would turn the crowd on, and most of them, you know, were covertly or overtly racist.

previous | back to Interview Transcripts | next

Program Description | Program Transcript | Reference

The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline | Maps | People & Events | Teacher's Guide
The American Experience | Kids | Feedback | Search | Shop | Subscribe

©  New content 2000 PBS Online / WGBH

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: