Georgia: 1966-1972. Unbound. Three press photographs plus an autographed Pickrick Drumstick. The photographs measure approximately 9½“ x 8” and are captioned. The Pickrick Drumstick is 15” long. It bears the legend, “Lester Maddox’s / Pickrick Drumstick” stamped in blue followed by Maddox’s autograph. All in nice shape. Very good. Item #009490
Lester Maddox was a segregationist Democrat who served as Georgia’s Governor from 1967 to 1971 and its Lieutenant Governor from 1971 to 1975. In 1966, he campaigned on a strong segregationist platform after closing his long-time Pickrick Restaurant rather than being forced by federal law to serve black customers. He won the Democratic primary but came in second to a moderate Republican in the general election. Since neither candidate received a majority, the decision was passed by law to the legislature where the Democratic majority voted unanimously for Maddox. Georgia law prevented Maddox from serving a second term, so he ran for and won election as Lieutenant Governor, while Jimmy Carter (who Maddox described as "the most dishonest man I ever met") was elected as Governor.
Maddox was a polarizing, but incredibly popular politician, not to mention being a savvy businessman. He opened a shop in then bustling Underground Atlanta selling Maddox t-shirts and other souvenirs, including autographed Pickrick Drumsticks, which had become infamous when a large group of black demonstrators attempted to enter his diner. With Maddox in the forefront, a mix of customers and employees (including African-American workers by some accounts) armed themselves with “drumsticks,” i.e., shortened, bare-headed, pickaxe handles, to keep the protestors out.
The three press photographs in this group include an image of Maddox holding aloft a Democratic trophy after winning the 1966 Democratic primary, Maddox promoting souvenirs at his Underground Atlanta store in 1972, and Maddox enjoying fried chicken dinner at a new, integrated Pickrick Restaurant that he opened in 1974 adjacent to his Underground Atlanta souvenir shop.
Perhaps surprisingly, Maddox’s administration instituted a number of reforms that were very popular within Georgia’s black communities. He promoted the hiring of blacks and oversaw legislation affecting unemployment insurance designed with black automobile workers in mind. He appointed more blacks to government positions than all past Georgia governors combined. He integrated the Georgia State Patrol and directed officers to address blacks as Mr. or Ms. Rather than as “Nigger” or other derogatory terms. He initiated prison reform that prohibited singling out black prisoners for undeserved harassment or punishment. And, he integrated public farmers’ markets throughout the state. (See Wikipedia and numerous on-line obituaries for more information.)
An interesting and unusual group of Lester Maddox political memorabilia.