Lester Maddox

(1915–2003)

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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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