Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
November 14, 2006
109th Congress, 2nd Session
Issue: Vol. 152, No. 128 — Daily Edition
Entire Issue (PDF)
IN MEMORY OF MAYOR J. PALMER GAILLARD, JR.
(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 [www.gpo.gov] IN MEMORY OF MAYOR J. PALMER GAILLARD, JR. ______ 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 began. 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. ____________________