Have we become a victim of our own clumsy attempts at political correctness? While not at all surprised, I was saddened and disillusioned to see in the media that the University of Alabama in Birmingham has removed the name former four-term Governor of Alabama and former presidential candidate George C. Wallace from its Physical Education building. The Trustees took this action despite there having been no public outcry by social groups or even calls in the media for such a move. The Trustees in a statement said that this was “ the right thing to do” based on Wallace’s history and position on segregation. Ironically, the statement also acknowledged Wallace having rejected segregation and publicly apologized for past rhetoric. So, what was this move about? Whether you liked his politics or not, you must admit George was a giant in the growth and development of Alabama. George served 16 years (four terms) as governor in addition to having run his wife, Lurleen, for one term. Under Wallace’s leadership, we saw the largest highway expansion in the state’s history. He put together the largest education expansion in history ($500 million). This included the establishment of the Community College system with 12 new campuses across the state in rural low income areas with bus transportation giving a segment of the state’s rural population access to a higher education never before seen. This system continues to thrive today!
George Wallace, as Governor, doubled the capitol investment for the state to $1.5 Billion resulting in over 1,000 new industries relocating to Alabama with over 43,000 new jobs! He doubled the expenditures for mental health and general healthcare. He founded the Office of Consumer Protection. Farm incomes doubled under Wallace’s leadership. The bottom line: the state of Alabama has enjoyed the most dramatic growth and development in the state’s history under George Wallace’s reign. Isn’t the UAB move to expunge the Wallace name from the campus structure really just a feeble rush at “political correctness” especially since virtually no one has called for such actions? Isn’t it strangely ironic that the appropriations for much of the development of UAB came under his record educational appropriations?
James W. Anderson