The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

3 weeks ago

Auburn University petition fails to recognize the full story of Gov. George C. Wallace

(Wikicommons, Auburn University/Contributed, YHN)

Like millions of Americans across the nation, my family and I were shocked, angered and saddened by the video that documented the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police officers. Anyone who reviews the footage quickly understands that it was a tragic and negligent death and could have easily been avoided.

In the weeks since, inspiring peaceful protests have been organized in countless cities, towns, and crossroads as the power and promise of the First Amendment has been put on full display.

At the same time, major metropolitan areas have also experienced rioting, looting, arson and acts of violence that run counter to Mr. Floyd’s memory and the opportunity for meaningful, peaceful change that this moment in history offers.

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Accompanying the protests have been calls by some to remove and dismantle long-standing historical monuments, markers and statues, and a petition to erase the name of my father, former Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace, from a campus building has been circulated at Auburn University.

It is my firm belief that many of those who signed the Auburn petition are improperly focusing upon only one era of my father’s career, and when the full prism of his life is viewed, it becomes evident that his story, like so many of those born in his era, offers an inspiring message of transformation, reconciliation, and acceptance.

I would submit to Auburn President Jay Gouge and other campus leaders that the fundamental change and progress my father’s life represents should be celebrated and emulated today, not vilified.

Born seven years before Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, George Wallace grew up in a rural portion of Alabama that, in many ways, was still recovering from the Civil War and the Reconstruction period that followed.

Among the traditions of his era was the practice of racial segregation, a system that had been in place for generations and one that would ultimately prove to be both wrong and indefensible, but for many Alabamians, it was the accepted way of everyday life.

Even within that fatally flawed system, the personal, one-on-one regard that my father endeavored to offer people of all races was considered an anomaly. Pioneering African-American attorneys like J.L. Chestnut and Fred Grey have said my father was the only circuit judge that penalized prosecutors who did not address them respectfully, and they noted that his rulings were based upon the merits of the case, not by skin color.

As governor, he did famously seek to enforce segregation at the University of Alabama in 1963, but in doing so, he successfully avoided a repeat of the violence that occurred when Ole Miss University was integrated just a year prior.

He later became good friends with the two students who eventually made history on that hot June day. James Hood invited my father to attend his graduation when he received his doctorate from the University of Alabama, and Vivian Malone Jones was among the honored guests at his state funeral in 1998.

There are those who wrongly suggest that my father commanded Alabama state troopers to charge the marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on what has become known today as “Bloody Sunday.” The late Montgomery Advertiser reporter Bob Ingram was in the governor’s office when news of the violence was received, and he later wrote that my father was enraged as he stormed around his office and said that Col. Al Lingo had violated his commands.

In today’s climate, many of those who seek to tell my father’s story focus almost exclusively on the tragedy in Selma and the events of 1965 and prior, but that is not where his journey ended.

It is, in many ways, where the most important journey of his life began.

Though he was a leader in preserving the Old South custom of segregation, he was an equally determined advocate of progress and racial reconciliation once the antiquated way of life was dissolved.

He often met with leaders like Rev. Joseph Lowry, Congressman John Lewis, and Jesse Jackson to candidly discuss his errors of judgment, and he spoke from the pulpit of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church to apologize to congregants for past actions.

A close friend of Edgar Daniel “E.D.” Nixon, the African-American Pullman car porter who chose Rosa Parks as the test case against segregation laws and selected the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott, my father was asked to serve as a pallbearer at his funeral.

He was elected to his final terms as governor with the overwhelming votes and political support of the African-American community, and he, in turn, appointed more minorities to office than any governor before or since.

Many have surmised that the attempted assassination in 1972, which left my father confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, helped him more fully understand the pain he had brought to others. Perhaps there is a kernel of truth in that assumption.

There is no doubt that the redemptive example he set led millions of Alabamians – many of them the parents, grandparents, and great grandparents of those who are reading this column – to accept, adapt, and embrace dramatic social and cultural changes.

Shortly after my father’s passing in 1998, Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote a condolence letter to my sisters and me that makes the argument more powerfully than I could ever attempt. A portion of his letter read:

“I saw a repentant Wallace in his latter years – a transformed man for the good. I saw a man with greater vision of inclusion – walls replaced by bridges, bridges which lead to open doors, doors which lead to change in education, health care, and equal opportunity for people black and white who were left behind … George Wallace deserves forgiveness, redemption, and restoration.”

The college students and young activists who are signing the petition to remove my father’s name from Wallace Hall will make many mistakes in their lives, just as all of us have. Some of those mistakes will be significant, some will be embarrassing, and some may very well hurt and affect others in ways they never intended.

I hope beyond hope that no one judges the entirety of their lives solely by the mistakes they made, but, rather, by the lessons they learned from them, the good deeds they accomplished, and the progress they made as people in the great arc of life.

Doing otherwise would be unfair to them.

And denying my father the same consideration and balanced judgment does a disservice to his life and legacy, as well.

George Wallace Jr. is the son of Alabama Govs. George and Lurleen Wallace. He previously served two terms as Alabama State Treasurer and two terms as a member of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

11 months ago

Centennial birthday offers opportunity to reflect upon parallel journeys of Gov. George C. Wallace and the state of Alabama

(Wikicommons, YHN)

August 25th of this year marks the centennial of my father’s birth, and the occasion offers an appropriate opportunity for us to reflect not only upon his life and career but upon the history of our state, as well.

Born seven years before Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, George C. Wallace grew up in a rural portion of Alabama that, in many ways, was still recovering from the Civil War and the Reconstruction period that followed.

Among the traditions of his era was the practice of racial segregation, a system that had been in place for generations and one that would ultimately prove to be both wrong and indefensible, but to many Alabamians, it was the accepted way of everyday life.

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It was a system that my father and thousands of other elected officials throughout the Deep South states fought to preserve, but unlike others, he sought to retain it through peaceful, methodical and more temperate measures.

My father was certainly defiant, charismatic, and energetic in his battle against what he perceived as a threat from the central government to control every aspect of our lives, but he was never violent.

He understood as both a well-educated attorney and as one of the greatest politicians this or any other state has ever produced that violence and bloodshed would harm his cause, not help it. And, as a Christian, he instinctively knew in his soul that violence was wrong.

He ensured the University of Alabama campus was swept clean of any item that could be used as a weapon prior to his “Stand In The Schoolhouse Door” at Foster Auditorium because he wanted to avoid the same violence that occurred when Ole Miss University was integrated.

Every stick, stone and pebble was methodically removed from the grounds of the Quad, and soft drink machines that dispensed bottles were replaced with ones that filled paper cups. In order to further quell trouble, he appeared on statewide television the night before student registration and implored citizens to stay away from campus and allow him to be their spokesman.

The result of his efforts was the peaceful and non-violent integration of the University.

He later became good friends with the two students who eventually made history on that hot June day. James Hood invited my father to attend his graduation when he received his doctorate from the University of Alabama, and Vivian Malone Jones was among the honored guests at his state funeral in 1998.

There are those who wrongly suggest without one scintilla of evidence that he commanded Alabama State Troopers to charge the marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He, in fact, ordered Col. Al Lingo and Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark to protect the marchers if they crossed the bridge while he contacted President Johnson and requested federal troops to provide security throughout their 50-mile trek to Montgomery.

The late Montgomery Advertiser reporter Bob Ingram was in the Governor’s Office when news of the violence at the Edmund Pettus Bridge was received, and he later wrote extensively that my father was enraged as he stormed around his office and said, “This is the last thing I wanted!”

In today’s climate of extreme political correctness and strident advocacy journalism, those who seek to tell my father’s story focus almost exclusively on the tragedy in Selma and the events of 1965 and prior, but that is not where his journey ended.

It is, in many ways, where the most important journey of his life began.

Though he was a leader in preserving the Old South custom of segregation, he was an equally determined advocate of progress and racial reconciliation once the antiquated way of life was dissolved.

My father famously appeared at a meeting of African-American ministers at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King once led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and he told them he was wrong to defend such an outdated tradition. He also met and spoke privately with leaders like Rev. Joseph Lowry, Congressman John Lewis, Jesse Jackson, and others and candidly discussed his error of judgment.

There is no doubt that the redemptive example he set led millions of Alabamians – many of them the parents, grandparents and great grandparents of those who are reading this column – to accept, adapt and embrace the dramatic social and cultural changes, as well. I know that my sisters – Lee and Peggy, as well as Bobbie, who passed away in 2015 – share that belief.

Southerners of all races are a devout people with a deep sense of forgiveness, which is evidenced by the fact that my father was elected to his final terms as governor with the overwhelming votes and political support of the African-American community. He, in turn, appointed more minorities to office than any governor before or, very likely, since.

Let us not forget that my father offered forgiveness just as dramatically as he sought it when he quietly wrote a letter to the man who shot five bullets into his body and confined him to a wheelchair. He told his assailant, “Please seek our Heavenly Father because I love you, and I am going to Heaven, and I want you to be going, too.”

Throughout the past 100 years, my father’s journey and our state’s history have largely paralleled each other. Both moved from the aftermath of the Civil War to the promise of Civil Rights. Both traversed the often difficult path from segregation to integration. And both had the courage to change and embrace new truths.

Judging the Alabama of today by the grainy black-and-white images captured during the height of the Civil Rights Movement more than 50 years ago does a disservice to our state.

Judging my father’s life, career and legacy without viewing the entirety of his journey does the same disservice to him because the truth he ultimately embraced and nurtured is the truth we should all embrace today.

George Wallace Jr. is the son of Alabama Govs. George and Lurleen Wallace. He previously served two terms as Alabama State Treasurer and two terms as a member of the Alabama Public Service Commission.