The Broken Road: George Wallace and a Daughter’s Journey to Reconciliation

Peggy Wallace Kennedy. Bloomsbury, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-63557-365-7
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. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 07/12/2019
Release date: 12/03/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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