Source: Governor Wallace- "Alabama Governor George Wallace on Meet The Press - June 30th 1968
Was Governor George Wallace a racist? Well, the same question can unfortunately be asked about our President of the United States Donald Trump. Or was George Wallace an racial opportunist and demagogue? Someone who used racial issues in Alabama to gain popularity with the actual racists there and members of the KKK and other racist European-American especially Anglo-Saxon groups in Alabama and in South in general.
The actual definition of a racist is, "a person who shows or feels discrimination against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race it superior to another." ( According to Wikipedia ) You could expand that to people who simply dislike or even hate, show violence to someone of another race, or other races simply because that person or people are from another race. I don't believe we know that George Wallace believed that European-Americans were superior to African-Americans and other racial groups in America. We also don't know that George Wallace hated of races of people.
George Wallace wasn't a career politician, he was an addicted politician. Someone who could only be happy if they held a public office and dealt with public policy on a daily basis as an elected official. He was also power hungry and was always seeking the most power for himself politically that he could politically could. Which is why he ran for President of the United States four times. He was also from Alabama which obviously had a lot of racists in his state and knew for him to be successful politically it was going to have to be in Alabama. Which leads into me believing that George Wallace was a racial demagogue and opportunist.
Governor Wallace was a man who used racial divisions and the hatred of racists in Alabama towards African-Americans as a way to further his own political career. I don't think we know if Governor Wallace was an actual segregationist in the sense he believed the Caucasians and African-Americans, should be forced to live separately. What we do know is Alabama back then at least was a deeply poor underdeveloped, undereducated, ignorant state even and that Governor Wallace wasn't going to be popular in Alabama because people there loved the economy so much and felt so great about their own lives. But Wallace knew that if he could communicate with the racists there that he was with them and that it was them against African-Americans and the Federal Government, he could get elected on that alone and be popular there.
George Wallace was a very complicated man who similar to Richard Nixon had a lot of flaws and even some pluses. Not as many pluses as Richard Nixon and Wallace was also an intelligent man especially politically and a good lawyer. To simply flat-out call George Wallace a racist because he spoke in favor of segregation I believe is too simple. To call him a demagogue who used racial issues to scare people and who over blew them to gain political popularity I believe would be accurate. I believe George Wallace was a bad guy and a bad politician in the sense that he had a hard time telling the truth and even lied a lot to gain political popularity. But I think labeling him a racist would be going too far.