|Title:||Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 082 Bill Lee|
|Creator||Lee, William J., 1925-|
|Dates||2009 June 5|
|Repository||Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies|
|Abstract||William J. “Bill” Lee was elected as a Democrat to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1956. He continued to serve for forty-two years, making his the longest uninterrupted tenure in the house by any representative until tying with Tom Murphy in 2002. As a state representative, he served as chairman of the Rules Committee and of the House Democratic Caucus. In 1998, he declined to run again, and worked as an aide to Speaker Tom Murphy. In 2002, Murphy was defeated, and Lee retired from politics. Lee discusses his time in legislature, comments on many historic events that occurred during his time in the state House of Representatives, and discusses party politics in Georgia.|
Reflections on Georgia Politics began in the fall of 2006 at Young Harris College, as a lecture and discussion program hosted by Georgia political veteran Bob Short. In late 2007, the Richard B. Russell Library began producing the program as an oral history video series to further illuminate and personalize the tectonic shifts that occurred in Georgia politics in the late twentieth century.
Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 082, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.
Resources may be used under the guidelines described by the U.S. Copyright Office in Section 107, Title 17, United States Code (Fair use). Parties interested in production or commercial use of the resources should contact the Russell Library for a fee schedule.
William J. “Bill” Lee was born in Forest Park, Georgia, on December 15, 1925. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946. In 1960, he earned his law degree from Atlanta Law School. In 1956, he was elected as a Democrat to the Georgia House of Representatives. He continued to serve for forty-two years, making his the longest uninterrupted run in the house by any representative. As a state representative, he served as chairman of the Rules Committee and of the House Democratic Caucus. In 1965, the Board of Regents authorized the establishment of three junior colleges, and Lee secured one for Clayton County in 1969. This eventually became the four-year Clayton State University. In 1998, he declined to run again, and worked as an aide to Georgia Speaker of the House Tom Murphy. In 2002, Murphy was defeated, and Lee retired from politics.
Bill Lee discusses growing up in Clayton County and being drafted into the Navy after graduation. He describes how he became interested in politics while serving as a page for the General Assembly.
Lee discusses his decision to run for legislature as a 19-year old and his election in 1956. He recalls the experience of being a freshman in state legislature and disagreements betwen Governor Griffin and Lieutenant Governor Vandiver. Lee discusses the legislative appointment of Governor Maddox, the move for legislative independence from the governor, and his friendship with Tom Murphy.
Lee elaborates on Tom Murphy's time in legislature. He mentions Murphy's disagreements with Zell Miller. Lee recalls working on the Industrial Relations Committee, the Parks and Recreation Committee, and the House Rules Committee. He describes the purpose of the Rules Committee. Lee comments on desegregation, the Sibley Commission, and the county unit system. He also discusses the prevalence of caucuses in legislature
Lee reflects on his 42 year record in the legislature and on how the path to Governorship passes through the legislature. He also comments on party politics in Georgia, reapportionment, and drafting the state budget. Lee recalls the green door budgetary drafting committee, Zell Miller's flag controversey, and the Julian Bond controversey.
Lee discusses his constitutents' reactions to integration and his work with bringing Clayton State University to his county.