The flashback portion1 of the movie George Wallace started off with a nice view of a young judge in Alabama at the gubernatorial nomination of his good friend Jim Folsom. It paints a rosy picture of Alabama as well as of Wallace who treats a black servant with more respect than most of the other party members. In the next scene we see Wallace at a campaign rally in Wallace's hometown. After the party is over, he is confronted by a man who says that he has some friends who want to speak to him. These men turn out to be members of the Klan.
He refuses to make race issues part of his campaign to be governor as his ex-governor friend had advised him to2. After losing the election as well as almost ruining his marriage, Wallace decides to do his first political flip-flop. He starts campaigning as a staunch segregationist4 and wins the next governor's race. Soon after his term as governor of Alabama started, Wallace is confronted with a problem. The US district court had ordered that the schools be de-segregated3, and two black people had applied to be admitted to the University of Alabama.
Wallace stages a huge protest in which he stands at the doorway of the university to prevent the blacks from registering. After a brief confrontation with the Secretary General of the United States, Wallace is forced to back down by the National Guard under orders from the President. Wallace's first term has its difficulties, but he survives. The problem is that under the Alabama state constitution, Wallace could not serve two consecutive terms. After a failed attempt to get the constitution amended, Wallace urges his wife to run even though she is diagnosed with cancer.
His wife proceeds to win the election by a landslide, but eventually dies of the cancer while still in office. After being elected again in 1970 as an underground racist, Wallace marries Cornelia Snively (who was at least 15 years his junior) two weeks before the inauguration. He then proceeds to start preparing his campaign for the Presidency. On May 15, 1972, while on a campaign stop in Maryland, Wallace is shot by a man from the audience. The assassination attempt confines Wallace to a wheelchair and also does not allow him to fulfill his marital duties to his young wife.
After speaking at the Democrat National Convention, Wallace returns to Alabama where he is elected to a third term (made possible by the fact that the amendment that he had tried to get passes finally went through). After serving the full term as governor, Wallace is forced to leave the governors mansion because the Alabama Constitution only allowed two consecutive terms. Also, at the beginning of the year, Wallace and his wife Cornelia were divorced after several horrific incidents. Friendless and distraught, Wallace is forced to start making apologies to the people who he had hurt.
He tries to personally apologize to his friend Jim Folsom but has his face shut in the door by his wife. He then apologizes in front of the black sixth street church, which had been pastured by the late Martin Luther King Jr. Due to his many apologies, Wallace was elected to his fourth term as governor (ironically with large support from the black voters). While looking back on Wallace's life, many people have said that after his third term in office, Wallace went through redemption of sorts. While I agree that he did eventually apologize for all the wrongs he had committed, I thing that he got what was coming to him.
He was shot because he was making people extremely upset. I also think that it was his own fault that all his friends abandoned him. He was only looking out for what was good for George Wallace. He was not even concerned for his own family. We only see his kids in the movies three times, and they are never treated, as a family should be. He may have relieved his guilty conscience and won over the African-American community, but he will always be remember as the racist who tried to keep Alabama segregated.
Notes: 1.Although the movie was not necessarily in chronological order, it is easier to go chronologically to talk about the movie. 2. Race view number 1: put the matter in the background – in other words, it is not affecting me daily and the blacks seem to be getting along with the whites other than the Klan so lets not make a big deal of it. 3. Race view number 2: Desegregation – force the blacks and whites to be around each other in every aspect of every day life. 4. Race view number 3: Segregation – keep blacks and whites separated for most every aspect of life. Matthew James Stoltenberg Govt 2301 Movie Paper 1: George Wallace