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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.

Lester Garfield Maddox

Lester Garfield Maddox was born on September 30, 1915 in Atlanta Georgia. Maddox worked in various jobs and positions during the years before he became involved in politics. In 1947, Maddox opened the Pickrick Cafeteria on Hemphill Ave. While running the cafeteria he began to write political commentaries regarding various issues that were of importance to local white, working class Atlantans. This is the beginning of Maddox's involvement with politics. In 1957 Maddox ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Atlanta against William B. Hartsfield. He lost again in a 1961 campaign against Ivan Allen Jr.Maddox's stand against desegregating his Pickrick Cafeteria garnered him much support from white Georgians; in 1966 Maddox won the Democratic primary against Ellis Arnall. This put Maddox squarely against Bo Calloway. Calloway won the popular vote but Arnall as a write in candidate caused the Republicans to not get a majority vote. As was law at the time, the Democratic legislature decided the election in favor of Maddox.; Maddox's term as governor was reasonably progressive: he appointed many African Americans to positions within the state, increased funding for the University System of Georgia, and made many prison reforms. Maddox ran unsuccessfully several more times for governor and once for president of the United States as an independent. He passed away in June 2003 after a long battle with cancer.; Interviewed by Mel Steely on December 3, 1985 at Maddox's home.; This interview is Lester Maddox and Dr. Steely chatting about various topics and people that Maddox has had contact with in his political career. He mentions a concept idea for his book; writing what about what the ones in charge said was going to happen and then what actually happened. Maddox mentions being asked about his racist/segregationist attitudes; his attitude was that it was the same as many other people during that time. The Maddox portion of the interview ends abruptly.; The first portion of the interview is talking about how the interview process will work, videotaping versus audio taping only. Steely says that the videotaping is better because it allows the interviewee to tell their own story in their own words. There is a portion of the interview when Dr. Steely and Maddox are working out the scheduling of future interviews. Dr. Steely makes several notes at the end of the tape about topics for future interviews.