Peggy Wallace Kennedy, daughter of former Alabama governors George and Lurleen Wallace, was the keynote speaker for the 4th annual HUG (or Hearts United Gathering) hosted by One Community United in the Wilder Center of Rome First United Methodist Church on Thursday evening.
George Wallace is remembered by many as a notorious segregationist during his time in office. His actions were questioned years later by a grandson, the son of Kennedy, who watched videos of African Americans who were abused during the Civil Rights movement. This prompted Kennedy to speak up and take action against racial injustice.
Kennedy believes that her father, who experienced a change of heart later in life, would be proud of the work she has done to ‘speak up and speak out for peace and reconciliation’.
Wallace’s 1972 presidential campaign effectively ended when he was shot on the campaign trail, which left him paralyzed below the waist for the rest of his life. This served as a turning point for Wallace, says Kennedy, as it gave him the opportunity to reflect on his politics and how his actions affected the African American community. He would go on to ask forgiveness from those he had hurt.
In addition to Kennedy’s speech, HUG IV featured musical accompaniment from the Rome Symphony Orchestra.
Kennedy is in the midst of working on a book with her husband Mark, a two-term Alabama Supreme Court Justice, about their journey through politics in the south and their work towards racial healing and justice in the 21st Century America.
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