Peggy Wallace Kennedy leads readers down The Broken Road of reconciliation

By Allison Marlow
Posted 1/2/20

Peggy Wallace Kennedy says she was left a difficult legacy.

As a young girl she had a front row seat to history, behind the man who touted segregation now, tomorrow and forever. As the daughter …

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Peggy Wallace Kennedy leads readers down The Broken Road of reconciliation

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Peggy Wallace Kennedy says she was left a difficult legacy.

As a young girl she had a front row seat to history, behind the man who touted segregation now, tomorrow and forever. As the daughter of former Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace, she loved her father though she disagreed with his politics.

Now in a new book titled “The Broken Road,” Wallace tells her side of the story, both about the love she had for her father and the disdain she had for his beliefs.

She wrote it, she said, for her two sons.

“I’ve learned to leave a legacy for my two boys that is different than the legacy that was left for me,” she said during a recent phone interview.

“When we stand together and believe in each other and help each other overcome our past, it’s so important that we see people with our hearts rather than our minds. If do that you will learn many, many lessons of unconditional love,” she said.

Kennedy said that as she travels for her book she meets many young people who have no idea who her father was, only that their grandparents loved George Wallace. Those types of memories warm her heart.

“My father was a good man and he loved people and he did do a lot of good things for this state, so he’s loved for many reasons,” Kennedy said.

Much of her book centers on that love between father and daughter as well as Kennedy’s personal reconciliation with the damage her father caused.

“This is a story that’s never been told before, it’s the truth the way I saw it, the truth the way I lived it,” she said.

“I just think to share my personal side makes people understand the love between us more. I think one of the threads that runs through the book is the love we did have for each other no matter whether I agreed with his politics or not. I felt our love was so strong and we were close even though I was horrified by the events that happened,” she said.

Coming to terms with the climate he created in Alabama and the “horrific things he did to harm people,” she said, are also a central focus in the book.

“I had to come to terms with that and accept that,” she said. “I didn’t accept that until I became an adult and that’s part of the reason I wrote the book, to let people know they can accept their past, not to forget it, but to move on and move forward.

“Leaving a painful past behind is not always easy but it is always right,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said her father did in the last year of his life come to regret his actions.

“I think my father had a lot of time to reflect on the politics of the past, and lay around and think about own mortality. He became very regretful of his race and segregation stance,” she said.

She said she hopes readers will learn that the book ultimately is not about George Wallace, but rather about learning to grow and thrive.

“It’s not who you are, it’s about who you can become,” she said. “You can find your voice later in life and you can speak up and speak out for what you’re passionate about. You can live a life of inspiration. You can inspire others, you can believe in yourself like I did later in my life.