From The Daughter Of One Of America S Most Virulent Segregationists, A Memoir That Reckons With Her Father George Wallace S Legacy Of Hate And Illuminates Her Journey Towards Redemption In The Summer Of , Peggy Wallace Kennedy Was A Young Girl Watching Her Father Stand In A Schoolhouse Door As He Tried To Block Two African American Students From Entering The University Of Alabama This Man, Former Governor Of Alabama And Presidential Candidate George Wallace, Was Notorious For His Hateful Rhetoric And His Political Stunts But He Was Also A Larger Than Life Father To Young Peggy, Who Was Taught To Smile, Sit Straight, And Not Speak Up As Her Father Took To The Political Stage At The End Of His Life, Wallace Came To Renounce His Views, Although He Could Never Attempt To Fully Repair The Damage He Caused But Peggy, After Her Own Political Awakening, Dedicated Her Life To Spreading The New Wallace Message One Of Peace And Compassion In This Powerful New Memoir, Peggy Looks Back On The Politics Of Her Youth And Attempts To Reconcile Her Adored Father With The Man Who Coined The Phrase Segregation Now Segregation Tomorrow Segregation Forever Timely And Timeless, The Broken Road Speaks To Change, Atonement, Activism, And Racial Reconciliation Minor Spoilers 3.5 5 The lesson of the broken road is one of coming to terms with the past, not for the sake of forgetting or forgiving, but rather for the truth Peggy Wallace Kennedy.Wallace immediately enthralls readers by courageously recounting her visit to Selma on the anniversary of the historic march that played a crucial role during the 1960s civil rights movement This sets the tone for the book she loved her father but disapproved of his political mongering to gain power in American government It s all here behind the scenes excerpts describing the University stand in , Wallace s assassination attempt and aftermath, and what things were really like before the clan s made it to the Governor s mansion A forewarning PWK isn t shy about collating the past with the present She virulently criticizes the Iraq war and bashes the current Trump administration Make America Great Again is not a plan It is an insinuation that America is not good enough to be proud of It is a pledge of allegiance to discrimination It makes people feel their way of life is under assault, and their deepest values are being trampled, no matter how misguided, hurtful, or destructive those notions are It makes hating right The Broken Road was gripping and heartwarming, but every once in a while Peggy served up a conceited narrative that left the historical context unsettled She invisions a tale of reparation, but towards the end, it sounded like she was one of the lead crusaders in the civil rights movement Thank you NetGalley for the the free ebook Thanks to Bloomsbury for the ARC at BEA 2019.TLDR this book is revisionist history designed to protect the Wallace legacy, don t read it.This book is Peggy Wallace Kennedy s memoir of growing up with and dealing with the legacy of her infamous father, Governor of Alabama and Independent candidate for President in 1968 and 1972, George Wallace I was skeptical of what this book would entail Wallace was not only directly responsible for an enormous amount of harm by being one of the most ardent defenders of Jim Crow in his time, but remains to this day a prominent symbol and figure among a reactionary far right that harkens back to the glory days when white supremacy could be as open and direct as possible I was worried this book would try to rehabilitate Wallace and try to diminish the harm he did, instead of honestly recognizing the suffering he caused and the damage he did and showing the work Peggy has done since to undo the deep moral wrong he committed by waging an unrelenting war to defend white supremacy.Unfortunately, this book is exactly that While it occasionally notes the harm Wallace did, it consistently tries to rebrand Wallace as a race neutral populist hero who didn t hate black people, but simply wanted to stop federal intervention and protect down on their luck working class people I want to quote some passages, so as a heads up this was the paperback version and it s from a ARC I received at the end of May It s possible that these quotes change by the final copy that comes out in December If I had asked Daddy in the summer of 1958 if he was a racist, I m not sure what he would have said For many years, I felt obligated to defend Daddy s character and actions I took the official Wallace line Daddy was segregationist, but not a racistWhat is the difference between a segregationist and a racist A racist is defined as a person who believes that one race is superior to others To be a segregationist means upholding a caste system a system of apartheid.I know in our house when I was growing up the use of the N word was strictly forbidden pages 53 54.I m sorry Peggy, but no, there s no difference between personally hating black people and actively working to maintain a system of racial political, social, and economic separation and willingly using state violence through the police and the prisons and showing support for paramilitary organizations like the KKK to enforce that separation It s the same damn thing In fact, I d much rather have a 1000 Wallaces who just make snide comments in private but never do anything about it, to 1 Wallace in office, actively resisting federal efforts to end legal segregation Also, just because you don t say the N word doesn t mean you aren t racist Daddy was able to say I am running as an independent for POTUS in 1968 because there s not a dime s bit of difference between the Republican and Democratic parties and neither of them represents the values of the people I represent Those people were overwhelmingly comprised of the white working class who felt the rest of the country didn t give a damn about them Through Daddy s efforts, they now had a national party of their own Their grandchildren would one day be voting for Trump page 152 153.The values he was representing where the values of black people are our political, social and economic inferiors, and the infrastructure of the state should be used to uphold that racial caste system and keep black people our inferiors.This is from a passage of Governor Wallace talking to his family near the end of his life I was never against the blacks I never, in any of my speeches, made slanderous or derogatory comments about the blacks Folks like Hugo Black, Ervin, Lyndon Johnson, Stennis, Faubus, all of them were staunch segregationists While I was a moderate on those issues, those men had already preached separation of the races Johnson was a leader of the fight against the Civil Rights bill in the Senate.all those folks have been rehabilitated I outlasted them Maybe one day I ll be rehabilitated too The issue I felt so strongly about was the issue of the growing federal bureaucracy and how it would devastate the state s sovereign power pages 230 231.I mean, sure, the others were racist too But good job misrepresenting Johnson s 1957 CRA fight, if you wanna know what actually went down, read Master of the Senate by Robert Caro, and while Johnson was almost certainly a racist, at least he passed and viciously fought for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Federal Housing Act of 1968, and established a massive slew of social welfare programs that overwhelmingly helped black people Wallace actively opposed all of those things BECAUSE they helped black people He had no issue with New Deal style jobs programs and government bureaucracy, as long as it excluded blacks and upheld white supremacy Meanwhile, Peggy claims that she wants to change the Wallace family s legacy to be better, especially after her father retired from politics in the 80s She does this bydoing basically nothing for the black people in Alabama, until the late 2010s when she does some photo ops with Congressman Lewis and some other people from the movement decades later Where was Peggy while her fathers allies and supporters were creating the War on Crime and the War on Drugs in the 70s and 80s, beginning the mass incarceration crisis that is decimating black America to this day Where was Peggy as her father s proteges were slashing welfare in the 90s by demonizing black people Where has Peggy been as police brutality kills tens of thousands of young black people in this country, from Rodney King to Travyon Martin to Tamir Rice to Sandra Bland to so many goddamn others Her brother George Wallace Jr., is still associated with the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist organization directly descended from the White Citizen s Council, yet she claims her family has grown and changed since the time of her father She even tries to claim her father would have voted for Obama, LOL.Peggy seems interested in the same sense of negative peace which is the absence of tension, to a positive peace which is the presence of justice, as Dr King famously said when he was incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama, to her father s delight All of our houses have their skeletons I m not perfect, and my family isn t perfect either But my family, and basically everyone I ve ever met and known, has never had the same platform George Wallace had to defend a brutal system of injustice That needs to be reckoned with, an unfortunately, it isn t here.This book reeks of Peggy Wallace Kennedy trying desperately to rehabilitate her father s image, to cast him as a man of the people Newsflash Peggy during the 1960s, 40% of the people of Alabama were black His rhetoric directly excluded them So he wasn t a man of the people He was a man of white supremacy If he really felt bad at the end of his career about the damage he did, he would have fought back against the new Jim Crow that his contemporaries were building at the time Visiting a few black churches and apologizing for being the face of the pro segregation movement doesn t undo the amount of harm he made in his political career This book is revisionist history Shame on you, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, and shame on the people at Bloomsbury for publishing this garbage Instead of giving even voice and space to the side of the white supremacists, maybe publish a book telling the story of the black sharecroppers who were beaten by white Alabama cops for protesting their second class status Maybe publish a book about the people who lived in fear of violence from the Klan for daring to register to vote Maybe publish a book of the black children of Alabama who watched their governor go on national television to proclaim he would never stop defending a system that made them legally inferior to white people This book isn t worth the paper it s printed on May it rot in hell, like George segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever Wallace hopefully is. Releases on December 3, 2019, I read an advanced reader copy from the publisher Not what I expected, which I think was introspection of Ms Wallace Kennedy s own part in growing up as George Wallace s daughter and then her own work as a civil rights advocate I don t have enough scholarly knowledge to judge if this is revisionist in nature but it must be affected by a daughter s lens It is a little disjointed in terms of timeline so I needed to keep that in mind as I read I am very tired of reading the old platitude or excuse of the south being complicated as is stated several times in the first half of the book Racism, compromising belief systems for power, etc is not complicated Calling racism segregation ism is not complicated The results are still racist As I was reading the early days of Wallace s political ambitions and campaigns, I keep thinking it mirrors Trump s political ambitions and campaigns, as does the rhetoric Wallace Kennedy points that out. I was perhaps Daddy s most important legacy of all Thanks go to Bloomsbury and Net Galley for the review copy, which I read free and early in exchange for this honest review I was a child during the Civil Rights era, and although I didn t live in the American South, I recall news footage of Kennedy s father, George Wallace, the man that the author rightly attributes as a harbinger of the Trump movement Instead of Make America Great Again, Wallace urged his constituents including the Klan, whom he openly welcomed to his campaign to Stand Up for America When the federal government signaled that it would enforce the segregation ban, Wallace made headlines around the world by literally standing in the door of the schoolhouse in order to turn the first Black student away from a public school in Alabama My own father was a redneck of the first order, but even he distanced himself from this extremist Wallace ran for U.S president but was defeated upon returning to the governor s mansion, he was shot and paralyzed from the waist down By that time Malcolm X was dead and could not have told us that this was a case of chickens coming home to roost, and yet it may well have been Although the book s summary suggests that Kennedy is vastly different from her father politically, her prose indicates that her true, bitterest grievances all center on his philandering betrayal of her sainted mother and his failure to be a strong provider and dedicated family man She tells us that even in the 1960s, she felt his racist rhetoric was wrong, and so I waited for what I thought must surely come next the moment she either confronted him or simply moved out of the house to another part of the country to restart her life in saner surroundings None of this happened, as it turns out She stayed in the governor s mansion, thrilled by the relative affluence and privilege she regarded as her due following a tumultuous, sometimes impoverished childhood The title is taken from a Hemingway quote, and in her own story designated the location of her maternal grandparents, whose simple, homespun nurturance provided relief to her mother and herself when her father went on the road politicking and didn t send money home for them to live off of At the beginning of the book she uses the expression often enough to beat it to death, but once her father becomes governor she rarely speaks of these kind, gentle people Toward the end, she parenthetically notes that her grandmother died at some point back in the middle of the book It s interesting that although Lurleen Wallace was elected governor in order to circumvent what was at the time a state law against successive terms for her husband, the author says nothing at all about her mother s civil rights policies We see that she won the governorship in a landslide and was loved by all, and yet if her policies diverged much from George s, that would have created screaming headlines It s just one of the many inconsistencies within this memoir The last several chapters are devoted to her father s redemption politically, or so she asserts He never hated African Americans, she tells us, but only did and said those things in order to gain office Later in life, he asked a handful of Civil Rights leaders for forgiveness and spoke in Black churches about his error She follows this up by pointing to the large numbers of Black voters that returned him to the Capitol I find myself wondering a lot of things, and foremost among them is why anyone would consider a candidate that makes the cold blooded decision to promote violent racism for the sake of gaining office to be morally superior to one holding the genuine belief in the inferiority of other races and ethnicities Wallace, she tells us, didn t sign onto the Klan s program because of his convictions, but because of what they could do for him And while the parallels she draws with Nixon are apt ones, the rationalization of her late father s destructive, ethically bankrupt lifetime is chilling in its own way, but she underplays this aspect of his career Her daddy lived long enough to appoint her 26 year old attorney husband to the state bench The second star here is reluctantly provided because she does some very nice things at the outset with regard to her description of time and place in the life of poor white folks in mid twentieth century rural Alabama If you re looking for a silver lining to this wretched work, there it is It s all I can find I would place this book in the child revenge category along with Christina Crawford, Patti Reagan Davis, and Carrie Fisher Read it if you want to wallow, but when you re finished, you will likely want to shower and gargle.
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