Richard B. Russell, Jr., Senator from Georgia

By Gilbert C. Fite | Go to book overview

3
Political Apprenticeship

When Dick Russell returned to Winder in December 1918, he had just recently turned twenty-one. He was a young man ready to take his position in the world. He was tall, about six feet, and weighed between 170 and 180 pounds. His high forehead suggested early baldness, and his rather large ears did not detract from his attractiveness. The quizzical expression of his blue eyes, his slightly drawn smile, and his prominent nose all seemed to blend into a face of interest and character. His upright posture, conservative blue suit, neatly groomed dark hair, and a cigarette between his fingers gave the appearance of someone on his way to success.

Dick moved into his parents' big white house almost as if he had never been gone. Although he had been away attending school most of the time during the previous seven years, he had returned home frequently. Now that he was an adult and ready to begin practicing law, it never occurred to him that he might get a house or apartment of his own. That also would have been unthinkable to Ina and Judge Russell who were happy to have their "boy" with them again. Judge Russell had longed for the day when he and his namesake would practice law together. His office in the Peoples' Bank building was now ready to include another Russell.

Winder had experienced a great deal of change since Dick was growing up in the fields and forests of nearby Russell. Winder was no longer split among three counties but had become the county seat of Barrow County, which had been formed in 1914. By 1920 the population of Winder had reached 3,335, an increase of over 2,000 in twenty years. About 80 percent of the people in Winder were white and about 20 percent were black. Barrow County had a black population of 30 percent, but most of the blacks lived on the county's small farms. The community was strictly segregated, and the color barrier between whites and blacks was firm. 1

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