(Extensions of Remarks - November 14, 2006)

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[Congressional Record Volume 152, Number 128 (Tuesday, November 14, 2006)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E2027]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                            HON. JOE WILSON

                           of south carolina

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, November 14, 2006

  Mr. WILSON of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, former mayor of 
Charleston, J. Palmer Gaillard, Jr., died July 28, 2006, leaving a 
legacy of public service that will always be cherished. He served as 
mayor of South Carolina's most historic city from 1959 to 1975.
  He was married to the former Lucy Foster Gaillard of Charleston for 
57 years, who preceded him in death on October 6, 2001. Surviving are 
three sons, J Palmer Gaillard III and his wife Henrietta Freedman 
Gaillard, W. Foster Gaillard and his wife Susan Street Gaillard, and 
Thomas H. Gaillard, all of Charleston, SC; 5 grandchildren, John P. 
Gaillard IV, M.D. and his wife Lori, Emmie Gaillard Hershey and her 
husband Clay, Mary Loize Gaillard, Susan Huguenin Gaillard and W. 
Foster Gaillard, Jr.; and 3 great grandchildren, Clay W. Hershey, Jr., 
Thomas Gaillard Hershey, and Alston M. Gaillard.
  The following op-ed was published in tribute in The Post and Courier, 
August 3, 2006. The author is prominent Charleston attorney and author, 
Robert N. Rosen. We share the same experience in that Mayor Gaillard's 
race was my first participation in politics at the behest of my mother, 
Wray G. Wilson, who had me deliver precinct voter call lists on 
election day for the mayor when I was 12 years old.

    ``We Need a Change'': J. Palmer Gaillard's Legacy for Charleston

                           (By Robert Rosen)

       My earliest recollection of participating in politics is 
     the Gaillard-Morrison race for mayor of Charleston. I was 12 
     years old. At the behest of my father, Morris D. Rosen, I 
     handed out a piece of paper (it would be an exaggeration to 
     call it ``campaign literature'') called a ``ticket'' with a 
     big headline that read ``We Need a Change'' and a picture of 
     the ballot led by the young, dynamic reform candidate, J. 
     Palmer Gaillard, Jr. It was 1959. Gaillard campaigned, like 
     all opponents of incumbents, for ``change.''
       After his election, Gaillard, as mayor, was a blend of 
     hard-headed, no-nonsense conservatism (he was a notorious 
     penny-pincher when it came to the city budget) and flexible 
     pragmatism. He realized in the early 1960s that the old 
     peninsula city of Charleston which ended at Mount Pleasant 
     Street and the edges of the Ashley and Cooper rivers could 
     not remain economically viable, and he aggressively pursued 
     annexation of the West Ashley district to the city.
       Mayor Gaillard made many other important contributions to 
     the city of Charleston, but none compare to his leadership in 
     the transition from an era of segregation and Jim Crow to 
     integration and racial equality.
       When he became mayor, Charleston was a segregated city with 
     all that implies--segregated restaurants, schools, buses and 
     public restrooms. Gaillard's views on the issues were 
     conventional. Segregation was then the Southern way of life. 
     He reflected the opinions and beliefs of his friends, 
     neighbors and supporters.
       But when the Civil Rights movement came to Charleston in 
     the 1960s--the sit-down movement at King Street lunch 
     counters, Civil Rights marches, demonstrations (peaceful and 
     not so peaceful), and the Medical University Hospital 
     strike--Palmer Gaillard guided the city through various 
     crises over 15 years with a steady and fair hand.
       He believed, first and foremost, in the rule of law. He did 
     not wink at violence or intimidation. When told that the 
     federal courts would order the integration of city 
     facilities--the first municipal facilities in South 
     Carolina--the only question he asked his lawyers (among them, 
     my father) was, ``What is the law?'' He immediately 
     instructed his lawyers to obey the law, which meant 
     acquiescence in integration, something the majority of white 
     Charlestonians adamantly opposed.
       ``The Charleston hospital strike of 1969 made national 
     headlines. Black hospital workers marched and agitated to 
     protest racial discrimination and poor working conditions at 
     the Medical University. Coretta Scott King, Andrew Young and 
     Ralph Abernathy all came to Charleston. The National Guard 
     was called out to maintain the peace. ``The strike of 
     hospital workers in Charleston, S.C., has become the 
     country's tensest civil rights struggle,'' The New York Times 
     editorialized in the first of three editorials on the 
     subject. Ralph Abernathy later wrote of his stay in the 
     Charleston jails, ``I remembered the Birmingham jail and 
     considered myself fortunate.''
       Palmer Gaillard and his Police Chief John Conroy (dubbed 
     ``Mr. Cool'' by the local press) kept the peace and allowed 
     the protestors to protest, which was their right. The crisis 
     passed. The strike was resolved. The peace was preserved. No 
     one was killed. No Southern demagogues stood in doorways or 
     made fools of themselves on national television like George 
     Wallace in Alabama or Lester Maddox in Georgia.
       Gaillard was the quintessential Charleston conservative. 
     But he was a leader. He appointed Richard E. Fields the first 
     black judge in South Carolina since Reconstruction to the 
     Charleston Municipal Court. On Palmer Gaillard's watch, 
     segregation peacefully gave way to integration in the most 
     Southern of cities, where both secession and the Civil War 
       When Palmer Gaillard campaigned on the theme ``We Need a 
     Change,'' he certainly did not mean a revolution in Southern 
     racial mores, laws and customs. But those who correctly 
     demanded change found in him the right man to preside over 
     that historic change: an honest, forthright, law abiding, 
     hard-headed Huguenot, and one of the great mayors of the city 
     of Charleston.