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Racist Maddox Bridge Needs New Name


There are few people you will encounter in Cobb County or even in Georgia who do not know the name Lester Maddox and what the staunch segregationist represented when it came to the mistreatment of people of color.

Following the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a pistol-toting Maddox and his ax handle-wielding supporters confronted three black Georgia Tech students who attempted to eat at his restaurant and chased them off of the property. He would later choose to sell his restaurant instead of serving blacks, even though many of his cooks and kitchen workers were people of color. Said to be a man of his convictions, Maddox was described as direct and outspoken on his views on people of color including that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites, a Communist plot was behind integration, the bible condoned segregation, and federal mandates to integrate schools were “ungodly, un-Christian and un-American.”

Running on a segregationist platform, this racist would be elected Governor in 1966 by the good people of Georgia. In 1999, the Chattahoochee bridge that separates Atlanta and Cobb County was named for Maddox and his wife Virginia by legislation that was sponsored by then State Senator Steve Thompson, a Democrat from Cobb. Why Thompson elected to champion this commemoration for Maddox and his wife in the General Assembly is unknown. In addition to being called the Lester and Virginia Maddox Bride, some have chose to call it what it is, the RACIST bridge.

Efforts by a Cobb lawmaker to rename the bridge after the late baseball great and home run king Hank Aaron were rebuffed as the family did not want to invite the racist acrimony that would surely follow from Maddox defenders. Yes, there are those who reside in our community who are just fine with the name and see nothing wrong with it. As Aaron chased the home run title, he was frequently subjected to racial hate and even death threats because of the color of his skin, however, he did not allow this hate to get in his way or prevent him from obtaining greatness in baseball. The Aaron family preferred for Hank to be remembered for those achievements on the ballfield, and his work within the community, instead of becoming the person who replaced a racist on a bridge.

The controversial Lester and Virginia Maddox Bridge has been subjected to numerous cases of vandalism which includes the sign being torn down, paint being thrown on it, and an additional sign being added with the word RACIST on it.

This is not the first time efforts have been made to rename what many call the racist bridge. A group called #AxeMaddox started a petition to remove his name from the bridge and a stretch of highway 41 that was also named after Maddox.

We reached out to the group for comment but have not heard back as of deadline. A quote on their petition page reads as follows:

The reason why Mr. Maddox’s name needs to be removed is simple: These roads are an homage to the Old South. The values that are being reflected by having daily reminders of a man who stood for inequality have no place in Georgia. These values have long since proven to be unsubstantial, and fortunately, progress has triumphed. However, in order for progress to continue, we need to rid our society of lasting reminders of a time, a place, and feelings of the past that should remain there. 

Efforts are still underway to find a way to move away from this racist name, which is contrary to the position now taken by Cobb County lawmakers as they prepare, in 2021, to name the newest park in Mableton after the civil war.

Proclaimed segregationist, racist, and Georgia Governor Lester Maddox died in 2003 at the age of 87.

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