When Jesse Jackson ran for president, former Alabama Governor George Wallace approved of Jackson’s ideas to “stir up the economy,” to seek more than just a service economy.” Plus he admired Jackson’s charisma and speaking abilities, stating further that if “anyone can bridge the gap between black and white, you can.”
Wallace ran for president in 1968 with Gen. Curtis LeMay as his running mate.
George Wallace at Willie Wilburn’s
“In Florida [during the presidential campaign] (and later, in Michigan and a few other States) school busing was a key issue. At Vero Beach, Wallace said: “Now, on this busing, I said many years ago, if we don’t stop the federal takeover of the schools, there’d be chaos. Well, what have we got? Chaos. This thing they’ve come up with of busing little children to schools is the most asinine, atrocious, callous thing I’ve ever heard of in the whole history of the United States.
Why, when President Nixon was in China, so I hear, he and Mao Tse-tung spent half their time talking about busing. And I hear Mao Tse-tung told him, “Well, over here in China, if we take a notion to bus ‘em, we bus ‘em, whether they like it or not.” Well, Mr. Nixon could have told him that we [are] about to do the same thing over here.”
Being against busing, he insisted, was not being for segregation or against the blacks. He was fond of telling the story of when an NBC crew headed by the correspondent Sander Vanocur was doing a story on Wallace’s hometown of Clio:
“We drove by Willie Wilburn’s. That’s a black nightspot in Barbour County. And I said, “Let’s pull up here.” And some of them New York boys, they didn’t want to stop because there’s three or four young blacks, tough-looking with mustaches, standing outside. But I walk up and smile and they shake my hand, and then Willie comes running out and hugs my neck and says, “Governor, I thought you were never coming back after they sent you up yonder,” and he turns and hollers, “Louise, come see Governor Wallace” – Louise, that’s his wife. Shoot, them New York boys like to died. I said, “Now, when I’m in New York, you gonna take me to see some of your black nightspots?” And they said, “No sir, We’re liable to get killed.”
In a post-primary interview on the “CBS Morning News,” not only did [Hubert] Humphrey refuse to reject Wallace as a prospective running mate, he made comments on busing that might have been scripted by the Alabama governor: “People don’t want their children to be bused hither and yon,” Humphrey said, from a good school to a bad school, from a good neighborhood to a neighborhood filled with crime.”
Two days after the election, the president of the United States declared on national television that people do “not want their children bused across the city to an inferior school just to meet some social planner’s concept of what is considered to be the correct racial balance.”
(George Wallace: American Populist, Stephan Lesher, Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1994, excerpts pp. 473-476)