George Wallace of Alabama dies

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The Independent Online
GEORGE WALLACE, the former Southern segregationist who made two runs for the White House before being paralysed by a would-be assassin's bullet in 1972 and renouncing his racist views, died on Sunday at the age of 79.

Wallace, who served four terms as governor of Alabama between 1963 and 1987 in addition to his bids for the presidency, died in hospital in the state capital, Montgomery, after a long illness. Flags at the state capitol and governor's mansion were at half-mast yesterday as tributes flowed in from Southern politicians.

The former president Jimmy Carter issued a statement that praised Wallace for changing his attitude to civil rights. "Alabama and the American South have lost one of their favourite sons,'' Mr Carter said. "His career helped define and reflect the political life of our region." Wallace, a powerful orator and instinctive populist, won almost 10 million votes and carried five states in the 1968 election. But his apogee came in early 1972, as he moved to the front of the Democratic field for the nomination that year before being shot while campaigning at a shopping centre in Maryland.

Though he survived, he was paralysed from the waist down and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, frequently in great pain.

His political conversion began in the mid 1970s. By the time he embarked on his last political campaign for Alabama governor in 1982, he acknowledged to a black audience that "segregation was a mistake" and that "the old South is gone".

Obituary, Review, page 6