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Interview with Erwin Mitchell, October, 20, 2008

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:07 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: I'm Bob Short, and this is Reflections on Georgia Politics sponsored by the Richard Russell Library at the University of Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Bob Short introduces interviewee Erwin Mitchell.

00:00:44 - Childhood

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Partial Transcript: Well, you had a full and enviable career in Georgia politics, but before we get to that, I would like to start by having you tell us a little bit about Erwin Mitchell and growing up in Dalton, and how you got interested in politics.

Segment Synopsis: Mitchell talks about his childhood in Dalton, Ga. He recalls his early introduction to the law profession because of his relatives, and he recalls the election between Herbert Hoover and Al Smith. Mitchell also shares several stories from his childhood.

Keywords: Al Smith; Dalton, Ga; Herbert Hoover; University of Georgia; Whitfield County; politics

00:17:58 - Law practice / Military Career

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Partial Transcript: But let's talk for a minute now about your --- after service you went to the Law School at the University of Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Mitchell talks about his first escort mission over Japan. He later talks about joining his father's law firm Mitchell & Mitchell. Mitchell also talks about being recalled to duty for the Korean War.

Keywords: Dalton, Ga; Japan; Mitchell & Mitchell; World War II; escort mission; law; law school; reserves; solicitor general

00:25:47 - Run for Congress / Congressional career

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Partial Transcript: So then as I recall, Henderson Lanham passed away.

Segment Synopsis: Mitchell talks about how the death of Representative Henderson Lanham left an opening in the US House of Representative. Mitchell recalls this race and how intense it was. Mitchell talks about Georgia's delegation, and he mentions the committees he was a part of.

Keywords: 7th district; Carl Vinson; Henderson Lanham; Herman Talmadge; Jack Kennedy; Lyndon Johnson; Richard Russell; Sam Rayburn; Space Committee; campaign; district attorney general; seniority; superior court judge

00:34:38 - End of Congressional career / Georgia Senate

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Partial Transcript: So you were elected to fill out the term of a former congressman, and then you were reelected for another term.

Segment Synopsis: Mitchell explains how he chose to not run for re-election because he believed that his views were different from his constituents, and it was difficult to maintain a home in Georgia and Virginia. Then Mitchell talks about how he was convinced to run for the Georgia State Senate.

Keywords: Congress; Hawaii; delegation; family; opposition; re-election; state senate; statehood

00:44:45 - Historic times in the Georgia Senate

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Partial Transcript: Those were very historical times.

Segment Synopsis: Mitchell talks about the issue of school integration in Georgia. He also recalls his memories of the Three Governors Controversy. Mitchell also talks about when the University System lost its accreditation during the Gene Talmadge era.

Keywords: 1946; Carl Sanders; Gene Talmadge; Governor Vandiver; Herman Talmadge; Melvin Tompson; Sibley Commission; county unit system; integration; state senate; three governors controversy

00:53:06 - Georgia Democratic Party

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Partial Transcript: Well, you know, it's said, and I believe that we actually had two parties all along.

Segment Synopsis: Short and Mitchell talk about the Georgia Democratic party and how it had changed throughout the years. Mitchell shares his opinion on the decline of the democratic party in Georgia such as Civil Rights, integration of schools, and other issues. Mitchell also shares the story of when Senator Russell told Mitchell that he expected him to succeed his Senate seat once he retires.

Keywords: Civil Rights; Democratic Party; Martin Luther King; Vietnam; integration; political party

00:58:06 - The Georgia Project

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk about one of your favorite projects of all time, and that is the Georgia Project.

Segment Synopsis: Mitchell shares some details about the Georgia Project which brought Mexican teachers to Dalton, Ga in order to aid the Latino immigrant children going to public schools in Dalton. He talks about the origins and the start of the program.

Keywords: Georgia Project; Latino; Mexico; Spanish; business; carpet industry; chamber of commerce; newspaper; school board; teachers

01:20:42 - Closing reflections

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Partial Transcript: As you look back over a very illustrious career, what is your proudest accomplishment?

Segment Synopsis: Mitchell talks about how his greatest accomplishment is his family. He goes into detail about his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He also talks about his disappointments and what he would do differently.

Keywords: University of Georgia; accomplishments; disappointments; family