Choosing not to run for state office
Johnson discusses being approached to run for lieutenant governor by Robert W. Scott during the early 1970s. Because of her support for Scott's administration and her work with the Democratic Party, the Scott administration thought she would be a good candidate. Johnson, however, chose not to run because she thought that the state was not yet ready to elect a woman to this office. Moreover, Johnson feared that the fact that she and her husband had long been supporters of desegregation might work against her as well.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Guion Griffis Johnson, July 1, 1974. Interview G-0029-4. 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
They wanted someone who would support them. I had been
speaking to the Young Democrats and I had been speaking to the
Democratic Women, to the State Convention and had been going around
speaking to the district meetings of Democratic Women ever since the
fall of 1947. I had been involved, accepted on the state level, but not
on the local level.
So, Mabel came to see me and said that the governor wanted me to
run for lieutenant governor and I said, "But I have no
money." "Oh, but money will be no problem. You'll get
all the money you need, and we'll help you with the
organization." And I said, "I'm sorry, I cannot do it.
For two reasons. When I enter some program, I want to succeed. I have
enough ego to want to win. I have enough common sense and pragmatic
approach to this to know that I cannot win. No woman can be elected
lieutenant governor in this state for a long time to come, and I don't
want to be the first woman defeated." Then I said, "In
the second place, I'm vulnerable." She said, "You're
not vulnerable, either. You know that the governor wouldn't want you to
run for lieutenant governor if you were vulnerable." I said,
"I think that any person who has had any strong committment
toward desegregation or towards the improvement of the lot of the Negro
is vulnerable. And you know quite well that my background will be delved
into by the opponents and they will find that I am the wife of a man who
was the first director of the Southern Regional Council. I'm the wife of
a man who was almost kicked out of the University because of his stand
- MARY FREDERICKSON:
Had there been a lot of publicity when that happened. Was it in the
- GUION JOHNSON:
Yes, yes. There were banner headlines in Atlanta and this went on for
several days. I was in St. Louis making a speech and got this telegram
when I was making the speech and I put it in my notebook and forgot
about it, because I was so absorbed in what I was
saying and then in the discussion that followed and then some man had
sent a note up saying," Please have lunch with me
afterwards." And this man was from Detroit and I thought that
this was an opportunity to find about the Detroit Planning Council and
how their Community Chest program works and this is going to be
interesting and it was not until finally when our luncheon engagement
was over and I thought, "Oh, I'm exhausted, I'll go to the
room." And then I remembered my telegram. And here was this
letter from Guy saying, "Don't worry,
everything will be all right." And that was all. I didn't know
what had happened, what was the matter. I tried to reach him by
telephone and could not. I thought that something had happened to
Edward. Maybe Edward had been run over by an automobile. That was before
he had his accident. 1
1 It was almost a year after the accident!
I cut my trip short and dashed back to Atlanta. I said,
"What has happened?" And it was all in the newspapers.
But people have a very short memory. But in a political campaign, they
dig it up. You go back and get all the dirt you can on your opponent.
Not that I think Luther Hodges would have run that kind of campaign,
because I think that he was politically naive and he wouldn't have known
it. But then there were other opponents who were long standing
conservative politicians who were also running for lieutenant governor.
So, that's the only political connections that I've had.