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Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program

The Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program is comprised of over 3,000 linear feet of archival collections, along with an extensive number of oral history interviews, that document the unique political culture of the state of Georgia.

Garland Turk Byrd

Garland Turk Byrd (1924-1997) was born in Reynolds, Georgia, attended local schools and served in an army engineer combat unit during World War II from 1942-1945. He earned his law degree from Emory University in 1948, having previously attended the University of Georgia. He was elected as a Democrat to serve in the state legislature from 1947-1949, but left to be assistant director of the State Veterans Department from 1949 until 1952. He served as Lieutenant Governor under Governor Ernest Vandiver from 1959-1963 during the peaceful integration of Atlanta's public schools. Byrd was a successful farmer and real estate businessman, and ran for office several more times, but never won. He died of leukemia in 1997.; Interviewed by Dr. Mel Steely on April 11, 1997 at the home of Garland Byrd.; Byrd begins the interview with a discussion of his childhood and growing up in Taylor County. He discusses attending Georgia Southwestern College for a year after graduating high school in 1941, and his time at William & Mary before joining the Army in World War II. He talks about basic training, and says that it was a very difficult period of time for him, calling the early mornings and "waiting for someone to bail you out" stressful. After answering questions about his time fighting in the War, Byrd starts discussing his political career after he returned home, got a law degree, and got married. After talking about how the War affected his political strategies, Byrd talks about his perspective on the Three-Governor Crisis in the 1940s. When it comes to his own political career, Dr. Steely asks Byrd questions about his campaign styles and strategies. Later in the interview, Byrd talks about becoming Lieutenant Governor under Ernest Vandiver and their relationship with each other. He talks about the great working relationship between himself and the senators and the governor during his first session. Byrd also answers questions regarding he and Vandiver's approach to the desegregation of schools in Georgia. After discussing his trials during his campaigns, which included a heart attack, Byrd concludes the interview by stating that he wouldn't do anything differently, and makes a few closing comments about his views on the education system in Georgia.