Lester Maddox - Scalawags - Anniversary - Features - Atlanta Magazine

Lester Maddox



Maddox grew up poor around the Georgia Tech campus and opened his Pickrick Cafeteria in 1947. The restaurant was known for its fried chicken and the owner’s defiant opposition to racial integration. Maddox penned newspaper ads called “Pickrick Says” and made three unsuccessful runs for public office. His fame spread in 1964, when he and his followers brandished red pick handles—known as “Pickrick Drumsticks”—at black people who approached his business. Two years later, he stumbled into the governorship when his opponent failed to win a majority of votes and the General Assembly picked Maddox. As governor, he appointed a surprising number of African Americans to government positions.

No Business Like Show Business In a spotty postpolitics career, Maddox dabbled in real estate and opened a souvenir shop in Underground Atlanta. At one point, he starred in a musical-comedy duo, The Governor and His Dishwasher, with a black ex-con.

Illustration by Kyle T. Webster

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  1. SusanM_7509 posted on 07/28/2011 09:50 AM
    Bringing my toddler son back from a weekend with his paternal grandmother one Sunday night, I pulled off 85 to see why the archives building was so brightly lit. Pulling in, State Patrol held their hands up to ask my identity. Onward toward the black limo closer to the building, Governor Maddox smiled and approached us. Explaining to him that he'd chucked my chin in my high chair one Sunday in his restaurant with my grandfather and father, suddenly a videocam lit up while he chucked my son under his chin. We were on the local news that night. Though his reputation as racist horrified me, my curiosity did win my son a spot on television.
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