McIntyre's fall was felt by all

Video, provided by WJBF-TV, of former Augusta Mayor Ed McIntyre speaking in 2002 about things he wanted to accomplish if elected again.
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Augusta was still basking in the glow of electing its first black mayor when Mallory Millender went to the Municipal Building to talk to his longtime friend.

It was shortly after the Oct. 28, 1981, election and this was his first time seeing Ed McIntyre sitting in the mayor's office. Upon entering, Dr. Millender said, the strangest of thoughts popped into his mind -- ones that went unsaid.

"My first thoughts were, 'Ed, promise me that you won't let them catch you in no (crimes),' " the Paine College professor recalled. "But I didn't say it because I thought that Ed might be insulted by that, that he was above that. When you are a black first, the whole ethnic group is vulnerable to your failures. That is to say that if you do well, it will open doors to all of us. If you do poorly, it may slam the door for the rest of us. So, there's a great responsibility that people have when they achieve."

Less than three years later, Mr. McIntyre left office in disgrace, resigning May 3, 1984, after his conviction on three federal extortion charges. For those who knew and worked closely with Mr. McIntyre, his resignation 25 years ago this month still hurts.

What bothers, if not haunts, his true believers are the possibilities of a career seemingly destined for greatness. And many of them say his fall was not only a personal tragedy, but also one to a community that got only a taste of his vision for its future.

One of his major accomplishments changed the landscape of the city. As mayor, Mr. McIntyre pushed for an entertainment/retail area on the riverfront, planting the seeds for what would become Riverwalk Augusta.

Much more could have been accomplished, said local businessman James Kendrick, a longtime friend of Mr. McIntyre and former board chairman of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce.

"One of the things that we are truly missing that I think Mac would have made a positive influence on is the fact that so many folks now choose not to come to Richmond County," Mr. Kendrick said. "I think Mac would have, years ago, made a determined effort to create some kind of mechanism to encourage folks to live and build in Richmond County."

It was a heady time in Augusta in 1981 when Mr. McIntyre became the first -- and so far, only -- black to be elected Augusta's mayor. Such an accomplishment in the early 1980s was rare in America and particularly in the Deep South, where only been a handful of blacks had been mayors since A.J. McClung of Columbus, Ga., served 52 days in 1973. Mr. McIntyre, however, had long been a known commodity in Augusta, having earlier broken the color barrier on the Richmond County Commission in 1970.

No one worked harder than Mr. McIntyre at building relationships and coalitions, and it paid off, say those who knew him well.

"He never stopped campaigning," said Dr. Millender, who worked on Mr. McIntyre's mayoral campaign. "McIntyre worked at relationships, absolutely irrespective of color. He used to say that in politics, there are no friends and there are no enemies. There are supporters and nonsupporters. And people who support you on this issue may not support you on the next, and vice-versa. But nothing was personal with him. He went to the most conservative people in this community, racists in some instances, and formed strong relationships, so that when he got ready to do things, he had friends in very unexpected quarters."

To win, he needed crossover votes because whites outnumbered blacks in registered voters 55 percent to 44 percent, despite the city's population of 47,000 being slightly majority black.

Mr. McIntyre's opponent in the runoff, Joe E. Taylor, was making sure voters were fully aware of the color difference.

"I'm not a racist: It's simply a matter that there's a black candidate and a white candidate and the whites voted for the white and the blacks voted for the black," Mr. Taylor said in an Oct. 25, 1981, article in the Augusta Herald before the runoff. "We were surprised by how few whites voted. Look at the 8th Ward. They only had only a 59 percent turnout. My concern is getting the other registered voters out."

McIntyre campaign strategists expected Mr. Taylor to play the race card, and to an extent, were glad that he did.

"Joe killed himself, really with both communities, when he sort of portrayed Mac as some kind of monkey or something," said Marion Barnes, a Richmond County school board member and Mr. McIntyre's campaign manager at the time. "And we used that as one of our rallying cries. And we got lucky with that. But Joe did it to himself. Joe was the type of person, and we analyzed it, that really the white people didn't want.

"Strange as it is, at that time, even though it was black and white, we felt that the people were going to vote for the person that they thought would be more successful for this community. And Mac was it."

The night before the vote, Mr. McIntyre pumped up his supporters, holding a rally that was broadcast live by a local radio station.

"He was a young Martin Luther King, the way he took the words of Joe Taylor and aroused the community," Mr. Barnes said. "I think that put him over the top."

Mr. McIntyre, who'd campaigned on racial and economic progress, won by getting overwhelming support in the black community and winning 10 percent of the white vote.

"There are tremendous parallels to McIntyre and Obama, in terms of what it meant to black people," Dr. Millender said. "It was like Nov. 4. You had people shaking their heads. It was something we hoped would happen, but almost didn't allow ourselves to believe would happen. I think that black people felt a part of the government and part of the city in ways that they had never felt before."

Being mayor of one of Georgia's largest cities gave Mr. McIntyre a high public profile. His career seemed destined beyond local politics. Mr. Barnes said he expected Mr. McIntyre to eventually run for Congress.

But the seminal moment of 1981 gave way to another one. On Dec. 21, 1983, Mr. McIntyre, along with two others, was arrested by the FBI for conspiring and attempting to extort money -- $9,000 -- from a local real estate developer interested in starting a project on city-owned property fronting the Savannah River. His resignation six months later would be the first by a sitting Augusta mayor because of criminal malfeasance.

The joy of his election was replaced by despair, particularly in the area where Mr. McIntyre first rose to prominence.

"When he fell, it was like a funeral in the black community," Dr. Millender said. "It was like a death in the family. I mean, it hurt. There was profound sadness."

Why he did it is something his close colleagues can't explain. Some still find it hard to use the word "crime," substituting in its place words such as "troubles," "downfall" and "failures" to describe their friend's legal entanglement.

"All great leaders have tremendous egos, and I believe that Mac's ego played as big a part in his downfall as anything else. I don't believe personally that he was on the take," said Eugene Hunt, a retired bank executive who was Mr. McIntyre's campaign treasurer in 1981. "If anything was wrong, it was more ego than it was greed. First of all, we weren't talking about a large amount of money, even back in the '80s. I can't see him sacrificing everything for something like that."

Ralph Walker, who did polling for Mr. McIntyre during the mayoral race, said some people still believe it was entrapment. He is one of them.

"Everyone knows that McIntyre was set up," said Dr. Walker, an Augusta State University political science professor. "But, you can't be set up if you're not willing to be set up."

Mr. McIntyre never publicly admitted guilt, but many times later apologized for "the mistake" he made. Before he was sentenced, he told the court, "My conscience is clear and I think I have set myself right with my Lord."

The lasting impact of Mr. McIntyre's undoing, Dr. Walker said, goes beyond a career wasted.

"I think he had tremendous potential and would have brought this community together in better shape than it ever had been racially," Dr. Walker said. "We've been pretty splintered. I think Ed was the one person who could have brought it all together. He had it moving in the right direction."

After Mr. McIntyre got out of prison in 1985 after serving 14 months, he set about trying to pick up the tattered pieces of his political career. He ran unsuccessfully for public office four more times before his death on Aug. 14, 2004, at age 71.

Mr. Barnes, who grew up with Mr. McIntyre, remained close friends with the former mayor until his death. He said they never talked about his conviction.

As Mr. McIntyre's health started deteriorating in 2003, Mr. Barnes said his friend would call every day to check up on him because he, too, was having health issues. He was more concerned about someone else's problem, not his own, and that, Mr. Barnes said, reflects more of the type of man Mr. McIntyre was than what happened in 1984.

"He wasn't worried about his (health), he was worried about Marion Barnes and what he could do for me," Mr. Barnes said. "I don't think he died trying to make up. I think he wanted to -- it might be make up but I'm going to use another word -- he wanted to prove himself. It was 'I want to show people that I can do good, my intentions were good and I want to go back and do that, what I didn't do the first time.' "

Reach Mike Wynn at (706) 823-3218 or mike.wynn@augustachronicle.com.

RELATED STORIES

- Augustans weigh impact of the rise and fall of city's 1st black mayor

- Two men's political careers were intertwined

ONLINE EXTRA

Read what people have to say about the impact McIntyre had on Augusta as its first black mayor here.

Comments (32) Add comment
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justus4
99
Points
justus4 05/17/09 - 04:12 am
0
0
What's the purpose of this
Unpublished

What's the purpose of this article? It's one individual's view of the facts which doesn't make any of it true. "Everyone knows Mcintyre was set-up" should be the title of this article. Where are those that set him up? Have they been brought to justice? Ha! Not a chance...its about race and closet racists that occupy positions that can influence plubic facts and impede legal justice, while minorities fall victim and are snookered by clever legal tactics. Again, the article talks about Mcintyre's fall, but should be more appropiately stated--a push!

Riverman1
79317
Points
Riverman1 05/17/09 - 04:51 am
0
0
His downfall over $9,000,

His downfall over $9,000, amazing. Today our elected officials just hint at a large campaign contribution. $10,000 here and there is nothing. If it exceeds the legal limit, have 5 people give $2,000...or just stuff the fish fry box with a noticeable envelope in front of the candidate and wink. We have officials still in office who the FBI knows received excessive contributions of $10,000. It all does kind of make you wonder. Play the game and you are okay. Be a tad bit more open and you end up in prison.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 05/17/09 - 05:22 am
0
0
Justus4, name the people that
Unpublished

Justus4, name the people that set him up! Everybody that is caught in crime feels like they were setup, black & white, so
quit trying to put the blame on others, forgive, but don't blame
others unless you can prove your allegations!

hurlyburly11
0
Points
hurlyburly11 05/17/09 - 05:53 am
0
0
"My first thoughts were, 'Ed,

"My first thoughts were, 'Ed, promise me that you won't let them catch you in no (crimes),' " the Paine College professor recalled. "....this sentence says it all........it was like they expected him to commit a crime and this from one of his own....go figure................there is no justification for a thief.
justus once again you show your ignorance..."set-up" is euphemism for "holy carp he got caught"!............

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 05/17/09 - 06:08 am
0
0
Justus4 again shows his bias

Justus4 again shows his bias and ignorance. First, Augusta whites easily proved that many of them could care less about color of skin and voted for a black Mayor simply because he was the best candidate and this was in the 80's compared to many blacks today who knowingly and openly said they voted for Obama simply because he was black - many actaully registered just for this election to vote only because of color. Mac wasn't set up and even if he was, he still violated the law and committed 3 felonies which Justus4 apparently supports as he always supports any black who breaks the law and denounces the whites no matter what and blacks as well if they put on a badge. It is ashame Mac decided to break the law because he could have continued to be such a positive person for Augusta for a long period of time but chose the quick buck instead of the proper and long road to doing right.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 05/17/09 - 06:59 am
0
0
This extremely racist article

This extremely racist article shows that the supporters of Ed McIntyre have a very low opinion of right and wrong. If a black candidate has the same attitude of McIntyre, why would we want him to be mayor? This man was a Walker want-a-be that didn't have the defensive support of Walker. He went to jail for being a criminal and betraying the public trust. The lament is just an attempt at excuse making and to show nothing has changed in black Augusta.

colcamp1
10
Points
colcamp1 05/17/09 - 07:15 am
0
0
Many Whites amongst their

Many Whites amongst their friends will admit that they voted AGAINST Obama because of color. Patricia Thomas I notice that you love to paint with that broad brush of yours. Blacks do not have a totally different perspective about right or wrong. Blacks are disapportionate victims of crimes therefore are more likely to be pro law enforcement. Evidently you believe in basing your opinions on the extremist of the community that the media somehow manage to find.

colcamp1
10
Points
colcamp1 05/17/09 - 07:16 am
0
0
In the end, Mayor McIntyre

In the end, Mayor McIntyre was wrong and had no one to blame but himself.

Brad Owens
4102
Points
Brad Owens 05/17/09 - 08:00 am
0
0
This article has one LARGE

This article has one LARGE factual mistake. MAYS was mayor before Deke, remember? Wasn't Wille 'black'? So Ed was not the ONLY 'black' mayor. It is a shame that Mays, a public servant for so many years, is being over looked here.

Brad Owens
4102
Points
Brad Owens 05/17/09 - 08:10 am
0
0
Also, Marion Barnes is a race

Also, Marion Barnes is a race baiter. Funny that they accuse Joe of pulling the race card then in the same breath admit they used it to rally support, "Joe killed himself, really with both communities, when he sort of portrayed Mac as some kind of monkey or something," said Marion Barnes, a Richmond County school board member and Mr. McIntyre's campaign manager at the time. "And we used that as one of our rallying cries.." Pot meet kettle. Funny stuff it was not such a serious topic that retards growth in Augusta.

apex24
0
Points
apex24 05/17/09 - 08:41 am
0
0
If a black person is caught

If a black person is caught in a sting breaking the law it's always a "set-up" by racist white people according to other blacks.

pointstoponder
153
Points
pointstoponder 05/17/09 - 08:42 am
0
0
Brad, Mays didn't rise to

Brad, Mays didn't rise to Mayor by public ballot. True he was the second black Mayor (first for the consolidated government) but he was not elected by the public at large as was McIntyre.

dsterling9
635
Points
dsterling9 05/17/09 - 09:15 am
0
0
My father told me you are

My father told me you are known by the people you associate with. If I had any association with any of the local, state, or federal government not sure I would want it known.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 05/17/09 - 10:22 am
0
0
colcamp1, yes, my comments

colcamp1, yes, my comments were certainly "broad brush". The honorable and conservative blacks are treated HORRIBLY by the vast majority of the black community and as a result, are often the "silent minority". My comment, in general, refers to those setting the standards for the "black community" referred to in this article.

Riverman1
79317
Points
Riverman1 05/17/09 - 10:43 am
0
0
Yeah, what Poinstoponder

Yeah, what Poinstoponder said. The article clearly says first elected black Mayor. Mays was the interim Mayor, never elected, when Bob Young stepped down. The Commission appointed him Mayor. His nomination was approved with a 6-2-2 vote. Commissioners Smith and Grantham voted against Mays’ nomination and Sims and Boyles abstained.

colcamp1
10
Points
colcamp1 05/17/09 - 10:45 am
0
0
I do not know why you feel

I do not know why you feel you can speak for the " Vast majority of the Black community", but the majority of the Black community are honorable people. I know that it is hard for many on here to believe, but the vast majority of the C.S.R.A. are honorable and hard working people.

braxtonkbragg_
0
Points
braxtonkbragg_ 05/17/09 - 10:50 am
0
0
Just another "cat" caught

Just another "cat" caught with "stink" bait! Coal, your 1045 is the first you've posted that I can agree with. However, the honorable and hard working majority sit silient as the few thugs and lil gangstas define the black community!

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 05/17/09 - 11:06 am
0
0
colcamp1, do you notice the

colcamp1, do you notice the Muslims of the world say the same thing. Why are these honorable people never heard from until Obama needs a vote? Is it still all about color? No, just look how honest and honorable conservative blacks are treated by the "honorable and hardworking people". Apparently we have a different definition of "honorable, too.

markmjtx
0
Points
markmjtx 05/17/09 - 11:40 am
0
0
McIntyre was elected to the

McIntyre was elected to the county commission and re-elected when the format was different in 1970s. He had much white support and that was pretty remarkable for the times. His term as mayor was a disappointment and that was sad because he had good plans for the city. He let down the city and himself. 1983-84 was a sad chapter in Augusta & Richmond County. The sheriff, J. B. Dykes was also a big story at that time. McIntyre was a visionary, but the history books are full of stories similar to this. He was a man who did not quit as he continued to run for office. Had he admitted his gulit instead of admitting his mistake, well I don't know if he could have returned to elected office. The voters in the end decided his fate and McIntyre could not win them over. Good article, Mike.

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 05/17/09 - 11:58 am
0
0
Actually the Riverwalk has

Actually the Riverwalk has ruined the Augusta riverfront forever. There should have been restaurants, nightlife and shopping built on the river like in Cincinnati, Louisville and Pittsburg...Not just a path where people get robbed almost every week. How many tax dollars are generated by a walking path? Look at the prime real estate on the SC side of the river....How many dollars are flowing into Aiken County from the property taxes of million dollar properties? Augusta leaders have NEVER done anything good for the long term of the city, black or white.

Riverman1
79317
Points
Riverman1 05/17/09 - 12:19 pm
0
0
Ahhhhh, another argument.

Ahhhhh, another argument. Tear down the levee, Mr. Copenhaver.

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 05/17/09 - 01:03 pm
0
0
"My first thoughts were, 'Ed,
Unpublished

"My first thoughts were, 'Ed, promise me that you won't let them catch you in no (crimes),' " the Paine College professor recalled. "...I hope this professor didn't teach English!

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 05/17/09 - 01:49 pm
0
0
The phrasing was between

The phrasing was between friends. I noticed that a lawyer with normally excellent English and communication skills, dropped into the vernacular of his childhood when surrounded by the neighbors he grew up with, using the word "ax" instead of "ask", for instance. Unfortunately, he was in a professional setting at the time, realized his mistake when my eyes apparently widened in surprise, and laughed and said, "I'm sorry, I don't normally talk like that, I just relaxed around my old friends and neighbors." I'm hopping Mallory's quote is showing his long-time relationship with McIntyre, enabled him to relax enough in his company to speak in a relaxed manner with him and that it is not a discredit to his actual speaking ability. That kind of speech in public does set a bed example for young people, though. I will never forget a public school educator and administrator that came and "axed" us for donations for Glenn Hills High School. He did not make a good impression on me, that's for sure.

MaskedMan
0
Points
MaskedMan 05/17/09 - 01:53 pm
0
0
Racism is more black against

Racism is more black against white than it is with any other race. The white race has had the racial card thrown at us long enough. ANY time a black man fails, it's whitey's fault, so let's give them something else free. I am sick of this double standard. If any of you think the 9 grand was ALL he took, get your head out of the sand. It's just what he got caught with at that time. The man was a crook. A flat out crook.

colcamp1
10
Points
colcamp1 05/17/09 - 02:17 pm
0
0
Every time a white man fails,

Every time a white man fails, it is because of "Affirmative Action". I am sick and tired of whites using that excuse. He was a crook and also dead, so what is your point?

Little Lamb
43827
Points
Little Lamb 05/17/09 - 02:53 pm
0
0
I think HumbleOpinion can

I think HumbleOpinion can look at a glass of ice-cold lemonade and think only of the piercing sourness of a lemon. Last week I had a very nice supper at Beamie's-on-the-River, then took a leisurely stroll along Riverwalk and enjoyed the view of the river and the view of the pretty flowers along the levee. I say, leave the levee and enjoy its beauty.

to tell the truth1
111
Points
to tell the truth1 05/17/09 - 03:04 pm
0
0
humbleopinion, you hit the

humbleopinion, you hit the ball right out of the ballpark. I am visiting right now at this moment in Raleigh NC and down the road in Durham NC just the Mall atmosphere with shopping and dining puts Augusta to shame not to mention other numerous forms of family entertainment. Augusta will always be the "good ole boy system", that goes NOWHERE. There's no industry here that bring good salaries so why would anyone want to relocate here anyway?

pointstoponder
153
Points
pointstoponder 05/17/09 - 03:17 pm
0
0
Raleigh and Durham have

Raleigh and Durham have assets Augusta will never have. First, and foremost, is the Research Triangle Park and the three research universities that form the points of the triangle. Second is close proximity to interstates running north and south, not just east west. Atlanta, Greeneville, Charlotte, Columbia, they all have that access in common.

Jsquared
0
Points
Jsquared 05/17/09 - 03:27 pm
0
0
You know a person born blind

You know a person born blind has no concept of color, a position all should take. it does not matter the color of a person's skin it matters the ethics and morals he/she lives life by. If Mc Intyre was white the crims agains us all would have been no less severe....................People need to start judging a person by his character and not what his color is.........................

Brad Owens
4102
Points
Brad Owens 05/17/09 - 04:32 pm
0
0
So I guess a vote by the

So I guess a vote by the elected commisoners as per the charter doesn't cout as an election. My mistake.

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