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.
Peggy Wallace Kennedy has been widely hailed as the "symbol of racial reconciliation" (Washington Post). In the summer of 1963, though, she was just 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.
In this thoughtful, evenhanded debut, Kennedy, the daughter of former Alabama governor George Wallace, reflects on her life with the staunch segregationist. Wallace (1919 1998) graduated law school at 23 and married 16-year-old Lurleen Burns in 1943. He ran for governor in 1958, losing to his opponent's "promises to keep Alabama white," which, according to Kennedy, prompted his racist turn and a vow "never to be out-niggered again.' " He denied having said it, but Kennedy acknowledges his racist actions, remembering when as governor "Daddy stood in the schoolhouse door" in 1963 at the University of Alabama in an effort to stop the desegregation of the school. Kennedy then recalls her father's 1972 presidential run (she notes the similarity between Trump's slogan and her father's "Stand up for America") as well as an attempted assassination in 1972 that left him a paraplegic; years later he "repented for his past actions with both words and deeds." In 2015, Kennedy, marching with Alabama civil rights activist Donzaleigh Abernathy, "wonders how the course of history might have changed if Martin Luther King and Daddy had known these two women would walk hand in hand." Kennedy's astute memoir also serves as a probing record of politics and racism in the South.
Fascinating True Story
Peggy Wallace Kennedy has given us a glimpse into the lives of Governors George and Lurleen Wallace. There is so much history here and she tells it from an insider’s viewpoint. This is easy to read and a true page-turner! This helps me, as an Alabamian, to understand her father and to forgive him for his stand for segregation.