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Lester Maddox Photographs

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Lester Maddox Photographs, 1934-2000 (VIS 105)    

Lester Garfield Maddox (1915-2003) was born in Atlanta, Georgia.  He dropped out of high school in 1933 to work as a machine operator at the Atlantic Steel Company. Before working at Atlantic Steel, he had apprenticed as a dental technician. Maddox married Virginia Cox (1919-1997) in 1936, and in 1944 they opened a grocery store and restaurant. Building on the success of their first business they opened the Pickrick Restaurant in 1947.  Maddox used the Pickrick as a platform for his political segregationist views, and in 1965 he closed the restaurant rather than comply with the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Maddox ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Atlanta in 1957 and 1961, and later served as governor of the state of Georgia from 1967 to 1971. Maddox was legally prevented from running for a second consecutive term as governor and instead ran for, and won, the position of Lieutenant Governor of Georgia which he held from 1972 to 1974.

The majority of this collection is comprised of images of Lester Maddox during his tenure as governor, and lieutenant governor of Georgia.  Also included are campaign events during his run for mayor of Atlanta, and governor and lieutenant governor of Georgia. Most of the campaign photographs were produced during his run for lieutenant governor and were taken at events in rural Georgia.  There are several photographs of Maddox riding on bicycles and speaking to crowds.  Many of the photographs depict supporters holding signs that read “This is Maddox Country”.  The collection also includes rare interior and exterior images of Maddox's restaurant, the Pickrick and his employees.  Some of the photographs were taken shortly after Maddox closed the restaurant and depict signs he made to register his protests against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  There are many images of people in the entertainment industry and in politics pictured with Maddox, mostly during his tenure as governor and lieutenant governor. Included are baseball player Hank Aaron, musicians Johnny Cash and Graham Jackson, and Georgia politicians, including Jimmy Carter, Zell Miller, Sonny Perdue, Ivan Allen, Jr., Charlie Brown, and Mugsy Smith.  Also included are civil rights leaders, Hosea Williams, Joseph Lowry, and President Lyndon Johnson. 

Lester Maddox photographs contain 146 black and white and color photographic prints, 56 of which are digitized and available on this database.  To view the rest of the images, please visit the Kenan Research Center.

The Kenan Research Center is located at 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30305. Our hours of operation are 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Wednesday – Saturday. You may contact us by calling 404.814.4040 or emailing at reference@atlantahistorycenter.com.

Digitization of this collection is made possible in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.