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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, November 8, 1990. Interview A-0347. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Talmadge favored a local, gradual desegregation process

In the 1950s Talmadge supported a states' rights kind of policy, resisting federal interference in state segregation policy. He thinks that this strategy would have been effective and would have avoided "turmoil," but would have taken about 25 years longer to accomplish integration. He takes evasive action to place blame on the lack of state-by-state enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment when it was first adopted.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, November 8, 1990. Interview A-0347. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JOHN EGERTON:
During that time, a great many whites, and you yourself, used to say, "The problems that we have in this region, we can work out. And if the federal government will not interfere in this, we will work them out." How long do you think it might have taken for us to have come to grips with this?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Actually by the time we passed the civil rights bill [1964 and 1965], any black that wanted to vote in Georgia was registered and did vote. As a matter of fact, during my father's race in 1946 probably 130,000 blacks voted in that primary. By the time I ran in '48, probably 200,000 blacks voted. We didn't pass the Civil Rights Act until the '60s. By that time, virtually any black that wanted to vote in Georgia was voting. Now, breaking down segregation would have taken a little longer. They were beginning to make some inroads in the cities, but not in the rural areas. It probably would have taken another 25 years on segregation.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah. Would it have been a good route to go, do you think? I mean, you felt it pretty strongly then.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, it would have prevented lots of turmoil and everything else that we did have. 'Course, the route that we should have gone, when they passed the Fourteenth Amendment, that really was the basis of all these so-called rights and still is. At that time, we ought not to have ever had segregated schools, segregation in the South. Once you adopt a pattern and a mold of conduct with all of the laws involved, including your Constitution, and it's been in being for over a 100 years, people don't change their habits.