The daughter of an infamous segregationist, former Alabama Governor George Wallace, suggested that President Donald Trump is perhaps not only racist, but that he is more so than Wallace, a politician who once promised: “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Peggy Wallace Kennedy, 69, said last week at the Birmingham Public Library. “I saw daddy a lot in 2016.”
Kennedy’s remarks come as the president continues to invoke race as a major talking point ahead of the 2020 election, attacking prominent African-American leaders and calling the black-majority city of Baltimore a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and a “very dangerous & filthy place” where “no human being would want to live.” Earlier this month, Trump told four congresswomen of color to “go back” to the “crime infested places” they “came from.”
“Unfortunately, it does look like the ’60s now,” Wallace Kennedy said. “Each of us, individually, need to act with compassion and pray for our democracy. I hope we don’t go back. But it looks like where we are slipping… that seems to be where the top is taking us.”
Wallace, too, invoked race as a major campaign pillar as a presidential candidate in the 1960s and 1970s, a divided time in America’s history for the rights of minorities as landmark legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, had just been passed. He’s well-known for trying to prevent the integration of schools by standing in the doorway of the University of Alabama in 1963. Roughly two decades later, Wallace’s opinion on race changed to believe that his prior views were wrong.
“The two greatest motivators at (Dad’s) rallies were fear and hate,” Wallace Kennedy said. “There was no policy solution, just white middle-class anger.”
“I’m the least racist person there is anywhere in the world,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.
Trump called Haiti and African nations “sh–hole countries” last year and said there were “very fine people, on both sides” of the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was instrumental in promoting the racist “birtherism” conspiracy theory that claimed President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is not a U.S. citizen. Trump also labeled Mexican immigrants as “rapists” who are “bringing crime” and “bringing drugs.”
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker recently accused Trump of being “worse than a racist” and “very similar” to Wallace. And Biden said Trump is “more George Wallace than George Washington,” at a recent campaign stop.
“We cannot go backward,” Wallace Kennedy said. “We have to go forward.”