Date of Award

May 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Lex Renda

Committee Members

Joe A Austin, Christine E Evans


Civil Rights, Milwaukee, Politics, Wallace, Wisconsin


Alabama Governor George Wallace ran for the presidency four times between 1964 and 1976, bringing his candidacy north of the Mason-Dixon Line to Wisconsin. Wallace’s campaign in the Badger State fostered a debate among residents regarding constitutional principles and values. Wallace weaponized federalism and states’ rights, arguing that the federal government should stay out of school segregation, promote law and order, restrict forced busing, and reduce burdensome taxation. White working-class Wisconsinites armed themselves with Wallace’s rhetoric, pushing back on social and political changes that threatened the status quo. Civil rights activists and the black community in Wisconsin armed themselves with a different constitutional principle, equal protection, to push for strong federal protection of their civil rights and freedoms. Wallace’s campaigns led to a clash of ideals in Wisconsin that hit its height and gradually diminished as both Wallace and direct civil rights action declined.