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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.

Denmark "Denny" Groover

Denmark "Denny" Groover (1922-2001) served various terms from Bibb and Jones counties as a Democratic state legislator from the 1950s to the 1990s. He is remembered for his fight to include the Confederate emblem on the state flag in reaction to federal enforcement of integration. Three months before his death, Groover gave a conciliatory speech urging the removal of the emblem and adoption of a new flag.; Interviewed by Dr. Mel Steely on April 18, 1997 at an unspecified location.; Groover begins by talking about his family and growing up in a small segregated Southern town, noting that he had been particularly interested in sports and had been interested in history while he was in school. His step-grandfather, Duke Pierce, was a lawyer and was influential on Groover's formative years, sparking his initial interest in law - he notes that the years that Eugene Talmadge was in office were particularly interesting to him. After attending the University of Georgia until his sophomore year, he moved to Birmingham, Alabama where he attended law school through classes offered through the YMCA. It was here that he heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor at the age of nineteen. Groover talks about his decision to volunteer as an aviator for the Navy in 1942 and his experiences in training. He selected to join the Marines at the end of his training and served under Major Greg Boyington with the Black Sheep Squadron. Groover goes on to talk at length about the time he spent serving in WWII, for which he earned a Purple Heart. After returning to the United States in 1944, he continued to serve with the Marine Corps until the war ended in 1945, then returning to law school and graduating in 1948. Groover speaks briefly about his time working with lawyer Charles J. Block and the beginning of his involvement in politics. Groover speaks about his entrance into the legislature in 1953, eventually becoming house floor leader. Groover discusses a variety of issues that arose while serving in the legislation, including the Georgia state flag, Governor Marvin Griffin, the education system, the raising of taxes, as well as racism and segregation and their philosophical nuances. Groover also tells of his early law career and success. After not serving on the legislation for six years, Groover was elected again in 1963. He speaks about the circumstances surrounding the election and some of issues that arose, such as with the debate over majority elections and county units, legislation on pinball machines, and the reapportionment debate that led to Groover's attempt to stop a clock on the house wall. Groover speaks about his own political philosophies on private enterprise and governmental programs, highways, as well as many other topics. He speaks at length about his support of the Kennedys, his third entrance into the legislation, as well as his opinions on President Jimmy Carter. In 1982, Groover ran for the House and was elected to his fourth and final duration as legislature and served until 1994.He speaks of his shift from his formerly segregationist stance and the impact of such people as "Daddy Bill" Randall. Groover ends with an assessment of the Democratic Party in the state of Georgia from his arrival in politics, comparing it to the party of 1997, citing race and covert racism as an issue in current politics and speaking of Speaker Tom Murphy and Governor Zell Miller.