Twice I Met the Governor

August 12, 2020 –

I have two instances where my first perception of a person is negative and then find something good about the person.

Lester Maddox served as the 75th Governor of the U.S. state of Georgia from 1967 to 1971. After having garnered national attention in 1964 for refusing to serve African Americans at his Pickrick Restaurant. Noted for his folksy manner, he proved a surprisingly moderate governor and implemented many policies that benefited African Americans.

One night, while accompanying my wife to the hospital to visit one of her co-workers, I sat in the ER room lobby. I, with 12 African Americans was surprised when, at 10:30 pm, Governor Maddox, accompanied by two Georgia Highway patrolmen, entered the room. He smiled and shook the hands of all in the room.

The African Americans smiled, stood, shook his hand, and some said, “Welcome, Governor.”  All were aware of whom he was, and they were pleased the Governor took the time to visit with them while they waited for their loved ones to be taken care of.

The second time I met the Governor was at the final exam for one of my graduate marketing courses at Georgia State University in Atlanta. One of my fellow students spent most of his course time arguing with Dr. David Schwartz (author of The Magic of Thinking Big), and he knew he had to do some big thinking for his final report.

When his time came to give his report, the classroom door opened, and several Georgia State patrolmen entered the room accompanied by the Governor, Lester Maddox.  The student introduced the Governor and said Maddox would present his final oral exam, “Marketing and Government.”

At the end of this high-profile presentation, Dr. Schwartz said, “This is what I’m talking about when I say, “Think BIG!”