To the strains of "Amazing Grace," hundreds of mourners bid a final farewell to former Gov. George Wallace.
The feisty, fist-shaking segregationist of the 1960s who would later preach racial cooperation, was eulogized Wednesday at a graveside ceremony for having "the courage to change.""Governor Wallace admitted he was wrong, and it took incredible courage," said the Rev. Lester H. Spencer. "His life is a parable of the Gospel for you and me."
Wallace, who died Sunday at 79 after being stricken with a blood infection, was buried next to his first wife, Lurleen.
Most of Alabama's top state government and congressional officials attended an earlier memorial service in the House of Representatives chamber where the Confederacy was organized in 1861.
"He had a message, and he believed in it," said Gov. Fob James, "the message of reconciliation."
From the Capitol, Wallace's casket, draped in a flag of Alabama, was taken to the First United Methodist Church. In its stone sanctuary, mourners laughed and wiped away tears as Wallace was remembered both for his political life and his love of family.
When the cream-colored hearse bearing Wallace's body left the church, groups of blacks and whites from every walk of life craned their necks to get a final glimpse.
Wallace's son, George Jr., said the testimonials he has heard this week from both blacks and whites who knew his father were "positive and uplifting."
"It's really about reconciliation, coming together, putting the past behind us," he said.