Lester Maddox, the segregationist who would be governor of Georgia, died Wednesday. Maddox was hospitalized after taking a fall, and was suffering from pneumonia and intestinal problems. He was 87.
In 1947, Maddox started the Pickrick Restaurant in Atlanta. His political ambitions were sparked by the 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown vs. Board of Education. When the Civil Rights Act desegregated public establishments, Maddox did everything he could to keep black people from eating at the Pickrick with white people. (To keep them away, Maddox sported a pistol while his friends carried pick handles.)
Maddox then closed the restaurant and ran for governor on an uncompromising segregationist platform. Despite having no political experience, he was elected in 1967.
“Georgians have lost more than a former Governor. We have lost a devoted family man, a dedicated public servant, and a prominent citizen who loved this State and her people,” said Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.