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georgia crisis (1947) Editors’Note:ThisradiospeechbyWestwastransmittedinAtlantaoverWATLradio on February 6, 1947, in response to one of the most bizarre events in Georgia politics .Whenthegovernor-electEugeneTalmadgesuddenlydiedonDecember21,1946, three men claimed the post.A raucous assembly of the Georgia legislature abruptly appointed Talmadge’s son, Herman, the governor, despite protests. After ruling the state for sixty-seven days, repealing various election laws, Talmadge was removed from office by the Supreme Court, which ruled that Lieutenant Governor M. E. Thompson should serve as the acting governor. West’s speech was later published as a pamphlet by Rev. Claude Williams on behalf of his organization, the People’s Institute of Applied Religion, in Birmingham, Alabama. Fellow Georgians: I speak to you as one of many thousands who have been stirred by the startling recent developments in our state. I am moved to speak up as a native Georgian who realizes that these are times when no public spirited citizen can afford to keep quiet. We have witnessed recently, and are witnessing, no ordinary squabble of politicians, no ordinary stealing of an election in our state. And although Georgia has become the brunt of many radio and stage jokes, what is happening here is certainly no joking matter.The next few days may determine whether our great state will continue onward along the road of progress it has begun to travel under the leadership of former Governor Ellis Arnall or whether it will become the first spot in which the creeping disease of fascism takes its roots and begins to spread. Just What Has Happened? First, may we ask, just what has happened to us in Georgia? Simply this: in the recent period we have witnessed an attempted nazi-like seizure of power in our 01.Prose.1-blnk 96/West 12/2/03, 11:48 AM 44 selected prose 45 state by the Talmadge forces. In 1932 I was a student traveling in Europe and I heard Hitler make a speech one day.The similarity of Hitler’s program and what is now being advocated for Georgia by the Talmadge-Harris35 forces causes me to shiver with cold fear for the future of Georgia. Not only does this concern Georgians, but every freedom-loving citizen in the entire United States. Hitler’s speeches in 1932 put forth the same ideas against the Jews as the Talmadge–Roy Harris machine now puts forth against the Negro people in Georgia. Because I do not want to see my state and my people end up in the same manner as Germany, I urge that you think soberly and act with both wisdom and speed to prevent it. Neither Hitler nor Talmadge had a majority of votes. Both used thugs and force to take power away from the people. Both used prejudice and hatred to split in order to divide and conquer. What has actually happened in Georgia is an attempted nazi-like putsch or seizure of power by force. I want to warn you, my fellow Georgians, that unless we alert ourselves to the tremendous importance of what goes on, we too, will be the victims of an open fascist dictatorship ! The Fascist Nature of White Primary Already we see the fruits of this attempted dictatorial seizure of power in the proposed white primary bill, a nazi tactic to maintain power by those who illegally claim it. The result of this bill would be to turn the most important election in our state over to a little clique of power-mad politicians. It would result in disfranchising,first of all,the Negro people,and at the same time,large sections of the white people of Georgia. It already carries with it the threat of re-introducing the poll tax, the proceeds of which would go into the coffers of a corrupt political machine closely resembling the Hitler pattern. Hitler first attacked organized labor,then the Jews, the Catholics,and Protestants —all people who failed to bow to the nazi yoke.In Georgia the Talmadge forces direct their first attack against the Negro people. They do so under the banner of the Hitler race theory. They want to deprive the Negro people of their constitutional right to vote, a right that has been won by the sacrifice and struggle of the Negro people on behalf of American democracy in both peace and war. Thousands of Negro soldiers and sailors fought and died bravely and gallantly to defeat Hitlerism and to maintain democracy in this land. Is their reward...


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