Maddox, Lester (Garfield) 1915-2003

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MADDOX, Lester (Garfield) 1915-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born September 30, 1915, in Atlanta, GA; died of complications following a fall June 25, 2003, in Atlanta, GA. Politician, businessman, and author. Maddox was a segregationist who served as governor of Georgia from 1967 to 1971. He was raised in poverty and left school at the age of twelve to work as a newsboy in order to help support his family. He also held various other jobs, including soda jerk, snack vendor, delivery boy, and, during World War II, defense plant worker, meanwhile finishing his high school education through correspondence courses. After the war Maddox had saved enough money to purchase a grocery store and restaurant, later adding a drive-through restaurant called the Pickrick which became popular for its tasty fried chicken. Maddox first made the news in 1964 when he refused to serve blacks at the Pickrick restaurant despite the recent passage of the Civil Rights Act. He also sold pick handles in his store; called "Pickrick drumsticks," they were presumably to be used to chase blacks out of the premises. Frustrated by laws he felt were unconstitutionally forcing him to serve people he did not want as customers, he sold the restaurant and pursued acting; Maddox appeared in the musical comedy The Governor and His Dishwasher while also earning an income selling Pickrick drumsticks. His fervor for segregationist policies compelled him to run for governor as a Democrat, and he defeated Republican Bo Callaway. Despite his stand on segregation, many viewed Maddox as an honest politician who genuinely tried to ease the plight of the lower classes, many of whom were black. He hired and promoted many African Americans to work in state government offices, worked to increase pay for educators, and started a prisoner early-release program. On the other hand, he was a hardliner in that he opposed drinking, smoking, and the wearing of miniskirts at the state Capitol, such opposition earning him the moniker of "Lester the Puritan." Georgia law prevented Maddox from running for a second term, but he served in the office of lieutenant governor under political opponent and future president Jimmy Carter. Four years later, he was out of office, the political climate having shifted. Maddox never served in a government post again, although he ran for governor again and campaigned for president in 1976 as an American Independent Party candidate. His final, unsuccessful bid for the presidency was in 1990. To his dying day Maddox maintained that forced segregation was immoral and unconstitutional. His autobiography, Speaking Out: The Autobiography of Lester Garfield Maddox, was published in 1975.



Legends in Their Own Time, Prentice Hall General Reference, 1994.


Chicago Tribune, June 26, 2003, section 1, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, June 26, 2003, p. B14.

New York Times, June 26, 2003, p. A29.

Times (London, England), June 28, 2003.

Washington Post, June 26, 2003, p. B6.