Title: Gwen Cherry
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Title: Gwen Cherry
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Cherry, Gwen ( Interviewee )
Bass, Jack ( Interviewer )
De Vries, Walter ( Interviewer )
Publisher: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: May 21, 1974
Copyright Date: 1974
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Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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FP 32
Gwen Cherry
24 Pages Restricted
May 21, 1974

Pp. 1-5: Gwen Cherry's political background includes some previous campaign experience and
she was a US Coast Guard Attorney for the 7th District of the Coast Guard. Since 1970, Gwen
has been a state representative for Dade County. As a black woman, Gwen was a "curiosity" at
first. She focuses on issues such as: rape, capital punishment, child care, equal rights, and the
elderly. Gwen was born and raised in Florida and her father was a doctor.

Pp. 5-10: Gwen Cherry's first political act was the introduction of her child care bill, which has
yet to pass. She discusses Reuben Askew and believes that he can do more for women and blacks
than he has, especially on the passage of the ERA. Gwen thinks Florida is in desperate need of
Affirmative Action. She speaks about the need for blacks to run for public office. At the time of
this interview, 50 blacks were holding office. They were not organized. Gwen says that the
NAACP, Voters Organization and Urban League support the general public, but there are no
organizations specifically for black politicians. Gwen discusses the Cuban population in Miami,
their conservatism and future power in the county.

Pp. 10-15: Gwen believes that Florida blacks are better off than in other southern states, but
contrary to common opinion, she does not think that Florida is more northern than southern, nor
is it liberal. As an example, Gwen points to the racial issues of busing and welfare and says that
Floridians have moved extremely conservatively on these issues, which is indicative of a southern
state. Yet, Gwen says that she'd rather deal with southern politicians (who she believes are more
straightforward) than northerners (who she says are vicious). Askew is discussed as popular
among blacks because of his-stance on busing.

Pp. 15-20: Gwen discusses women's political groups like the Women's National Political Caucus
and NOW. She discusses the attempts to pass the ERA. Gwen criticizes Paula Hawkins for not
putting her full political weight behind this legislation. Gwen talks about her campaign style and
to whom she tries to appeal. She discusses how women are crossing party lines and the typical
"housekeeping" positions that the government often relinquishes to women.

Pp. 20-24: Gwen discusses the next election and possible seats she may run for. She talks about
Alce Hastings, Askew's black advisors, Claude Anderson and Lester Maddox. She also broadens
the discussion to speak on women and blacks and their future in holding high positions
nationwide. Gwen briefly mentions the Haitian refugee crisis. Finally, Gwen returns to the
subject of northerners being more difficult to deal with than southerners.





FROM THE S.o. .P., 'dO7
SOUTHERN HISTORICAL COLLECTION, THE LIBRARY OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL.






This is an interview with Gwen Cherry, a black female state

representative from Dade County, Florida. The interview was conducted

by Jack Bass and Walter De Vries in Tallahassee, Florida on May 21, 1974

and was transcribed by Joe Jaros.



Jack Bass: Basically, what is your political background?

Gwen Cherry: I had worked in many campaigns prior to being elected, but

I had never thought about running for office. At the time, I was the

United States Coast Guard Attorney for the seventh Coast Guard district

when I was asked to run. And I resigned that position in order to run,

which was a terrific cut in salary. I guess that it was higher in a way,

because it was on the federal level and the seventh Coast Guard district

encompasses about six or seven states, southern states.

J.B.: Who asked you to run?

Cherry: A combination of people, black people, women, lawyer's groups.

They felt that it was time for a change and they thought that perhaps

it was time for a black woman to go, to make the step of running for

office.

J.B.: That was what year?

Cherry: 1969, and I was seated in 1970.

Walter De Vries: Was that a special election?

Cherry: No, it was a regular one.

J.B.: So, this is your third time?

Cherry: No, second.

J.B.: Second.

Cherry: CompletinR the second.
From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4~-/7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
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page 2


J.B.: Right, o.k.

W.D.V.: And is it what you would have expected?

Cherry: It's very frustrating. I guess that I am getting a little more

accustomed to it now, but having been a lawyer for awhile, you get even

more frustrated, because you can change a rule of law in a particular case,

and whether or not the legislature will act and change it in accordance

with the way it should be is left up to them. They may go all the way

up to the Supreme Court and change it, and that has to do with that

particular case. However, in the legislature, if you manage to be

successful, you get a whole body of laws changed at one time. So, you

do make more of an impact, although I use both of them. I still fild-

suits where I think you need action, where the legislature will not move.

Using both of them sometimes, you can get results. For instance, when I

first came in, there was a group of about 20,000 women in the state of

Florida, the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs, who had a clause in

their by-laws that discriminated. It was for whites only. And they were

in tax exempt status and the state got no taxes from them because they

were do-gooders, and they are. Very fine women, honorable women. However,

their lands and things were not taxed, their buildings and I think that

one of the first bills I filed was to eliminate them from this priviledged

status. I couldn't get any action on it, because they were a very powerful

group throughout the state. But after I launched the bill, I was able to

file suit against them in behalf of two clients who wanted admittance

into that organization, and they did drop this from their by-laws. Under

a great deal of persuasion, we had to go all the way through court.

W.D.V.: How are you received by your colleagues as a black and a woman?

Cherry: I would say that I am a curiosity to them, to a great extent.




From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview A~97 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 3


W.D.V.: You were, or you are?

Cherry: I was. They were friendly enough. They would say, "We don't

have too many women in the legislature in the first place." So, they

would say, "What's a nice lady like you doing up here? Wouldn't you

rather be home with the kids?" Something to this effect. "This is

really not the type of thing that you should be doing. What does your

husband think?" That sort of thing. But I think that they have gotten

rather accustomed to me now. More or less. A woman has to work harder,

but once she is accepted, I think that she is pretty well accepted.

It's just like with blacks, and that's where I have an advantage, having

been black, I know discrimination keenly. So, the other discrimination

that come from sex, I can readily see them quickly and understand them.

So, I think that I am priviledged, although I still have a double

disability, too. Like for instance, in explaining things like. .oh,

I've been working with the rape laws lately and for a long time, my

colleagues couldn't understand why I would be working to try and get

women, female officers, female attorneys working with rape victims.

"What difference does it make?" And I said, "Let me give you an example.

Suppose that you had just had an unfortunate incident with someone and

you were brought into a police station and you had the choice of two

policemen, and you were black and one was black and one was white. Which

one would you pick? Or the reverse, you know. You are white and you

come in and there is a black one and a white one, which one would you

rather talk with, if you had choice? It's the same thing with a rape

victim. She has just been assaulted by a male and then she is immediately

put in an all male environment. If she had a choice, I think that she

would prefer a female, although I do admit that females can be just as




From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-9/7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 4


bad as men, but not on the whole. Usually, they can relate better, they

can empathize and they can do a couple of other things." So, from the

vantage point, I can see how things will work a little bit clearer, I

would say, than some of my colleagues. And I can give you a lot of

examples like that.

W.D.V.: Well, it sounds like some of the attitudes have changed since

you got here.

Cherry: Yeah, I would say so. We've had a whole new election. I guess

I fought pretty hard on capital punishment. I've lost so many good

battles, as I would see it, so I guess that losing doesn't matter too

much anymore. It's winning or losing and coping with either one of

them. But during the first year or so, there were some pretty hard losses.

I fought for child care centers, equal rights amendment. Mainly legislation

that deals with human rights. The elderly . .

W.D.V.: Did you lose on the basis of the issue, or because you were

black?

Cherry: A combination, I imagine, of both. Captial punishment, I think

maybe it was a combination of,maybe I fought so hard not to see it

reinstated, but community pressure probably played the biggest role.

The legislators felt that the community pressures demanded, and it was

election time, demanded that the reinstate it. And I think that we were

teh first state to reinstate it. So, it may have been a combination of

both. There is a tendency to automatically reject legislation that I'm

carrying a lot of times. But you must remember that I come from a different

vantage point. Everybody is the sum total of their total environment, right?

And the things I'm saying are the things I'm accustomed to. They've never

seen that side of it. So, in many instances, I have a job of educating



From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-IV7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 5



them up to my point of view. Because they haven't seen that side. They

don't know what I'm talking about when I talk about the welfare mother

with ten children that may want to work and how she gets caught in this

cycle and can't get out of it and how all of these things take place.

They really can sympathize, but they can't empathize.

J.B.: Did you grow up in Florida?

Cherry: Born and raised. (Laughter.) In Miami, right in the area that

I'm representing.

J.B.: What did your parents do?

Cherry: My father the town's physician, and my mother ran a boarding

house and a hotel.

J.B.: So, you know many of the people in your district, then.

Cherry: Right, and they know my family. My father built the first

hospital in the South, south of Tennessee, for blacks. He worked closely

with the University of Miami hoping to establish a black medical school.

So, I do have the advantage, and this is where I have a similarity with

them. I'm not a Yankee, I'm not a transport, I'm not a foreigner. I've

seen the Klu Klux Klan, I've witnessed that, I've been through all of

that. So, I know all about it. I've been through sit-ins and all of

that sort of thing.

J.B.: What was what you would consider your first political act?

Cherry: The introduction of the child care bill. I thought that it was

the most beautiful piece of legislation that I had ever written. It was

about a thi-ty or forty page bill, and I haven't been able to get it passed

yet. We are the only state of the fifty states that has no rules and

regulations governing child care. And I can only say that this was






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview A-97 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 6


because I carried it. It would have been a major step forward.

J.B.: Have you made any progress since you first introduced it?

Cherry: Well, it's coming up this year, I hope. But it's coming up

mainly changed around into someone else's name, or parts of it and

someone else's bill is amended to it, it may still carry the substance.

It may be that they are not quite ready that a black person would

introduce progressive, massive legislation that would make complete

changes. They may not quite be ready for that yet.

J.B.: How do you assess Governor Askew as governor? Both from the

perspective of being a legislator and a citizen of Florida and also

from a black perspective and a woman's perspective.

Cherry: I think that he is a very well intentioned, a very good man.

He is relatively sincere. But I don't rubber stamp him. I don't think

that he has done enough. I think that there is much more that he can

do for blacks and for women. He hasn't spoken out as strongly as I

feel he should. However, I do realize that he is a new voice coming

from the South and he has a good image. But I guess that none of us

will ever be satisfied. I'm not completely satisfied, I'm happy with

him. I think that he could do more, much more in the leadership role.

J.B.: Such as?

Cherry: Well, you see, I think that we could have gotten the Equal

Rights Amendment passed if the governor had done what he did with the

corporate tax. With the corporate tax, he got out and campaigned,

went all over the state of Florida in behalf of it, and it passed. I

think that he could have done maybe not that much effort, but something

similar to that. Other than just lip service. I think that the same

thing is true of blacks. He's made a number of black appointments and

he always reminds me of this, and that's good. But it's no more than


From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-A/7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 7


he should have made. We still have further down that road to go.

Were getting blacks in the judiciary, where we need them, and we are

getting them in other aspects, but we don't have the kind of Affirmative

Action program that we should have for the state. I'm embarrassed and

I have told him that over and over again, that I am embarrassed that

the state does not have the kind of Affirmative Action that they should

be doing.

J.B.: Does he meet on any regular or formal or informal basis with

the blacks in the legislature?

Cherry: No. Not to my knowledge.

J.B.: Well, it would probably be hard to do it without your knowledge.

(Laughter.)

Cherry: He has the blacks . .

W.D.V.: It wouldn't take a very big room, would it. (Laughter.)

Cherry: No. (Laughter.) We are 'way behind. We are 'way behind

in the blacks in the state legislature. And I have been all over the

state to try to interest blacks in running. Because I really believe

that this is where the action is and where we have to go to make the

changes we want. We're trying to get together the black elected officials

in the state of Florida, but like I said, we are behind.

J.B.: How many are there?

Cherry: About fifty all told.

J.B.: No association.

Cherry: I have called them together twice. They have elected a leader

and he hasn't called them together again. It takes a lot of time to

organize it. Everybody is so strung out and busy until you can't







From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-V7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 8


really get..down to. .

J.B.: A big state, too.

Cherry: Yeah.

W.D.V.: Is there any statewide black organization?

Cherry: The NAACP, the Voters League, the Urban League. These are the

ones. They may or may not be considered strictly political organizations.

You know, we really aren't as organized as we should be, and you know I

think that one of the reasons may be that we didn't have it as hard as

some of the other areas. The hard core areas I think come in and do

more than those who have had it kind of all right. Then you become

complacent and you don't do very much. If you've had a little bit of

the pie, you just get complacent. But I think that it is going to catch

on, and hopefully in the near future.

J.B.: Is there any sort of political coaldion existing, or in the making

between blacks and Cubans in Miami?

Cherry: I'm hoping for that. They are beginning to talk about it. And

you know, we have a Spanish speaking mayor in the city of Miami. We have

a Spanish speaking commissioner. There are Spanish speaking persons that

are going to run for office and I'm hopeful that they will get one of the

seats. We don't have any in the legislature. Yet, we have the influx where

Miami is becoming one-third black, one-third Spanish speaking, and one-third

white.

J.B.: We heard some speculations that the Cubans in the Miami area tend

to be more conservative.

Cherry: They tend to be Republican.

J.B.: They tend to be Republican, and as they develop politically, Dade

County is likely to become more conservative.



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page 9


Cherry: That has been the prediction. Hopefully, I hope that that

isn't so. With the mayor that we have now being black, and he's

Democratic. The Commissioner that is sitting is . .

J.B.: You say that the mayor is black?

Cherry: No, I mean Cuban. Well, Spanish speaking. He's a Puerto Rican.

And he's a Democrat. The other one is a Democrat and liberal. We have

one on the school board that is a Democrat and very liberal thinking.

We these Spanish speaking leaders, hopefully they will sway their

people that way.

J.B.: Do you have any Spanish speaking constituents?

Cherry: Yeah.

J.B.: Do you have their support?

Cherry: Yeah. I don't know if it's . .let's see, they've had a choice,

a pretty wide range of choice. But they have been supportive. I can't

tell you why, other that they are another group. Not as much of a

minority as blacks, but maybe . .

J.B.: Why should Spanish speaking people,say that those in Dade County,

not be Republican?

Cherry: Because Dade County is not Republican by nature. I mean, for

the first time, we have two Republicans up here now, we never had them

before. It's been Democratic for the past fifty years, I would say.

Predominantly. Like the good old "solid South" you know. All the way

through. It's followed that pattern. Republicans are just beginning

to show strength in that area.

J.B.: My question is really, looking at it from the perspective of

the Spanish speaking population, why should they not be Republican?

Cherry: Because their leaders, the leaders that they are electing, are





From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-9V7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 10


Democrats. They are following the same trend as the other Dade

Countians. They haven't elected a Republican, Spanish speaking, to

anything that I know of. And they do have leaders in elected positions.

That's all I'm judging on.

J.B.: You're saying that the most effective. . .

Cherry: Visible leaders that they have are . .

J.B.: The Spanish speaking leaders that they have elected are from

the Democratic party.

Cherry: Yeah.

J.B.: So, you think that they are going to follow?

Cherry: I think that they will. I think that this will set a pattern.

And these are well respected and very popular leaders. I don't think

they were hand picked or anything. Most were appointed and then ran,

and kept their jobs. Kept their positions. It may go Republican because

we have Nixon in that area. I have found that there is a Republican

following around in the Key Biscayne area and around there. And there

are quite a few Spanish speaking in that area.

W.D.V.: What did you mean earlier when you said that blacks in Florida

had a bigger piece of the pie than blacks in other southern states?

Cherry: Well, they had a few blacks, I would say, who weren't as hard

pressed as blacks in say, Mississippi, that were . .

W.D.V.: You mean economically pressed or politically oppressed?

Cherry: Economically. No, politically, they were oppressed. But they

had a little bit of . .you know, they had characteristic blacks that

you let flourish. I mean the number rider, that has the flashy cars and

has a little bit of the action, or pie, and they tend to want to keep






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4A-9/7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 11


the status quo. They are not worried about the political arena maybe,

particularly, but they are doing all right. They are living all right.

Then, you have the blacks who work in service for the very wealthy that

do very well, too. And anyone who is pretty comfortable, they keep the

status quo.

W.D.V.: Well, the thing that puzzles me is that Florida is considered

one of the least southern of the southern states . .

Cherry: Only Dade County. Only that area of southern Florida. We went

for Wallace more so than Alabama. You must remember that we gave him a

bigger vote than Alabama. Don't let Florida fool you as far as . .

W.D.V.: It wasn't any bigger than Michigan though, was it?

Cherry: That's right. (Laughter.)

W.D.V.: There are two blacks in the legislature, right?

J.B.: Three.

Cherry: Three. One male and two female.

W.D.V.: That's about as low as any other southern state. Is it the

lowest, Jack?

Cherry: No . .

J.B.: No, Mississippi has one, Louisiana has eight.

W.D.V.: That's right.

Cherry: Don't let Florida mislead you. It is not liberal. It will fool

you. You know, they thought that surely Florida would show up, would be

a barometer for the whole United States in that primary, the presidential

primary . .

J.B.: It was. (Laughter.)

Cherry: The whole country was for Wallace?

W.D.V.: Well, a lot of the country was for Wallace.

J.B.: I tell you, you didn't run any worse in Michigan than you did . .


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page 12


W.D.V.: He ran better than Michigan. Are you saying that race is still

an overt kind of issue in . .

Cherry: Covert.

W.D.V.: . . Covert. A covert kind of issue in a legislative campaign?

Cherry: Yeah, it's still there.

W.D.V.: But it's not articulated.

Cherry: No, no, it's . .

W.D.V.: How is it an issue then?

Cherry: It's self evident. (Laughter.) In fact, you don't have to

make it an issue.

W.D.V.: Well, in those cases that you have a black and a white candidate.

But what about if you have two whites or two blacks.

Cherry: There are those who are more active when it comes, or more

aggressive, when it comes to fighting for the rights of minorities. Or

fighting for the rights of poor people, or fighting for the rights of

elderly people.

W.D.V.: If I was a state wide candidate, how would I use that issue

without articulating it out in the open? What would I use? What code

words would I use, what issues would I use if I wanted to exploit race?

Cherry: In what community?

W.D.V.: State wide, say for governor, or senator. If I wanted to pluck

that string, what would I say and what would I do?

Cherry: You mean the minority thing?

W.D.V.: The race thing. If I wanted to make race a very subliminal,

covert kind of an issue.

Cherry: Busing. You would go with the busing issue. The court issue.

These words have a meaning . .




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page 13


J.B.: Is welfare another one?

Cherry: Yes. "Get all these lazy, shiftless people and make them work."

Yeah, these are the sort of things . is that what you mean?

W.D.V.: Yes.

Cherry: Those would be the things that people would . .

W.D.V.: Crime?

Cherry: "Crime in the street, and putting it in the White House."

(Laughter.) Yeah, that's it. "We've got to take all the crime off the

streets." These are the code words that you mean.

W.D.V.: Yeah. Well, has the rhetoric of the campaign changed since you

have become aware and involved in politics?

Cherry: Yeah, but they are still . .

W.D.V.: You said that you can remember the Klu Klux Klan days.

Cherry: Yeah, I can remember.

W.D.V.: Our book covers the last twenty-five years and we are trying to

see the major changes that have occurred during that period. Would that

be one of them?

Cherry: Yeah, it's covert, it's hidden now. And you have to be of a

certain amount of sophistication to know what is happening. That is

true, that so many of our people are so easily fooled by what people

say, rather than what that do. And politicians really know how to

make hay with that. For instance, it is very difficult for me to

tell people what I think of their representatives, that their

representatives are really shafting them, because they won't even

believe it. The fellows have it down so well. So, I have to learn

to fight just a little bit better than they do and just a little bit







From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview A-917 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 14


more sophisticated than they can, you know. In a different kind of a

way, because if they see me in front of a black audience or something,

they have no qualms about leaning over and kissing me. (Laughter.) But

they don't mean it, and I know that, but then you've got to get that

across to people. So, it's a different kind of politics now. And I

guess that the southern gentleman really knows how to whip it on, just

like Wallace does. However, I'd rather deal, I think, with a southerner

than I would with the northerner that comes down and goes into the

political area.

W.D.V.: Why?

Cherry: I can deal with my southern beau. (Laughter.) I can deal with

him, I think, despite all these facades. I'd rather deal with the

southerner. Maybe it's because I'm more accustomed to it. .than I

would with the many northern transplants that we have in the legislature.

That's just a personal feeling. They are more sincere, notwithstanding.

I have no qualms in dealing with people who are being 180 degrees away

from what they think. And I think that the southerner can better take

it, they don't hold it. They aren't as vicious. I can even take Wallace

a lot better than I can a whole lot of the northerners that come down

and ask for my vote. And you'll find more and more of that. I think that

there are more and more black people now that are turning over to Wallace.

At least you know what Wallace is, you know what you are dealing with,

you know? It's that sort of thing, if you understand what I'm saying.

J.B.: How is Askew perceived by black voters in this state?

Cherry: He's an ideal to them.

J.B.: So, Wallace against Askew in a Florida primary is not going to

get any black votes, is that what you are saying?




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page 15


Cherry: I think that Askew would get them all. I think he would.

Askew has really won the black voter.

J.B.: Was it his stand on the busing thing?

Cherry: I think it was. Because he really did a . he hasn't done

anything since then, but he really did a bold move on that. A very

commendable stance. But he hasn't done anything since then. He made

that one stand and he hasn't done anything else.

J.B.: Doesn't he have some sort of a human relations commission.

Cherry: That doesn't function.

J.B.: It doesn't function?

Cherry: If they did, they would have Affirmative Action, they would be

doing meaningful things. They are not doing anything. But he does have

one. He has one on the status of women. But they aren't doing anything

either. But maybe he will whip them up into shape. And he went in on

the women's vote, too. Because he promised the equality of women. I

don't know if women are going to remember that when he comes back or not,

but he hasn't done anything other than lip service for women.

W.DTV.: Are there any women's political groups.

Cherry: Oh, strong, strong.

W.D.V.: Like what? Is there a Caucus?

Cherry: Yeah. Well, I used to be the head of the Women's National Political

Caucus. We just finished our state meeting last weekend, in Orlando. They

are getting ready, they are getting up. The NOW organization is strong.

Florida, interesting enough, fifty-five percent of the voters are women.

We have the highest percentage of women voters than any other state.

W.D.V.: In the nation?

Cherry: Yeah.




From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 1-'V7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
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page 16


J.B.: Well, Florida almost passed the ERA, am I correct on that?

Cherry: Well, the first time I carried it, we passed it in the lower

house and because of a constitutional prohibition, they didn't take it

up in the upper house. We had a relic. left over from the constitution,

and the constitution said that no constitutional amendment could be

ratified until after an election. So, they didn't do that. We

overwhelmingly passed it the first year I carried it. The second year

it was ten votes short. This year the senate turned it down. So, we

have tried all kind of strategy.

J.B.: Did the house pass it this year?

Cherry: We didn't take it up. It was asked. I asked the senate to

take it up since they had never voted on it, and we had voted on it

twice.

J.B.: Was there an active women's movement iosupport of'Paula Hawkins?

Cherry: No. Paula Hawkins. .the only disappointment that we've had

with Paula, and I tell her this . .women were very proud of Paula

being elected to the top position, but Paula has not spoken out for

the ERA either. She has not identified with women since she has been

in. I think that she will move closer to us now, with the election

coming up.

J.B.: Well, when we came in, you said that she was the hottest thing

going in southern politics.

Cherry: She is the hottest thing. She's the hottest thing in Florida

politics right now. She has a beautiful chance. The only thing that

might through her out, and I don't think women will remember and I don't

think that any of us who have observed her very carefully will remind






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview q-97 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
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page 17


anybody of it, but Paula was new and could have made a big difference

with her Republican delegation when the ERA was up, to come before their

committee, or to make any sort of attempt. And she did not. She has

been a consumer person, which will relate to women, but other than that,

she hasn't related as a woman's candidate. She went as a housewife

from Maitland, and that kind of caught on. But she is sitting on a

bank board, and she is a very wealthy woman.

J.B.: What is her husband?

Cherry: I've forgotten what he does, but I think they are all in banking

business and they have their own firemen and health aids, and ect. But

she is really hot, because Guerny is going down, and I think that women

are ready to place a woman in Congress. They have been waiting a long time.

They are ready for a woman lieutenant governor, if Askew had sense enough

to pick one. They are ready for one. Women are tired of being placed

down. They are just about ready for a statewide woman candidate.

J.B.: Do you speak before more black groups, or more women groups?

Cherry: A combination of both. I like to think that I do coalition

politics. I have my priorities in my order, and my black priorities

come first and women second. But I have been at the helm of the National

Women's Political Caucus and we had a convention in Houston. I am now

state president of the NOW organization. I have been on the national

NOW board. The women's movement in the South was in the forefront, and

I led' that movement. It was a black and white team with a woman in

Dade County. Which is most unusual, you don't see that in the South.

We made the changes, we took down the signs, the same way that we did

with the Colored Only signs, we took down the Male Only signs out of

the stores, and we did it by quiet peaceful persuasion. We slowly




From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview Al-97 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
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page 18


dropped all the barriers. We went to the department stores, we went

to the restaurants, we went to different places. And we didn't have

to file the suits, but they were removed one by one. So, we have

been in the forefront of the women's rights movement. I don't think

you can very well divide it. When you are talking about people's

rights, if you are going to fight for one set of rights, you've got

to fight for the other, it doesn't make sense if you don't.

J.B.: I know that in North Carolina, a lot of women, liberal Democratic

women are voting Republican women at the state level.

Cherry: They are crossing party lines.

J.B.: Do you see that as a growing trend?

Cherry: That's right.

J.B.: Do you see yourself as a potential statewide candidate?

Cherry: I'm hopeful.

J.B.: This year?

Cherry: Not this year, no.

J.B.: Cabinet post or something else?

Cherry: Possibly a cabinet post, possibly Congress, I'm not sure. But

I do have hopes.

J.B.: Congress would be house seat, though?

Cherry: Yeah.

J.B.: It would be less than statewide there, right?

Cherry: Yeah, that's right. Like I say, it's winning or losing, but

I think that it's time to step on up. But I think that I have to learn

well at this level in order to step up. So, I'm doing my apprenticeship,

I hope.

J.B.: When is a consumer orientedA going to run for Secretary of Agriculture


From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-'7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 19


in this state?

Cherry: (Laughter.) I have a woman who says that she is putting her

hat in the ring, I don't know if she's kidding or not. And urban

oriented, that's what she is. Roxie Bolton. She told that she is

going to run, that's the one position that she wants. I don't know.

It would be great.

J.B.: That just struck me as something, just sitting here . .

W.D.V.: The Commissioner of Education is something more natural.

Cherry: No, no.

J.B.: This state is 70 or 80% urban, and you've got a Secretary of

Agriculture who is a cabinet post and he represents the farmers. I

mean, it doesn't make much sense.

W.D.V.: Well, that's not what I meant, I just said . .

(Interruption on tape. Someone enters office)

J.B.: You mean more apropos for a woman?

W.D.V.: I didn't say a woman. . .

Cherry: This just happens to be a woman.

W.D.V.: I meant that the position in the cabinet that would be natural

for a woman would be on the state board of education.

(Laughter.)

Cherry: Like for instance, you could probably name my committees? You

know, women are always. . .

W.D.V.: Constitution, health services. I was assistant to the speaker

of the house for a number of years, so I can tell you where we put them.

(Laughter.)

Cherry: You're right. And I have been trying to get the fellows to

see that we are tired of doing the housekeeping tasks. We do them all




From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-9'7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
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page 20


the time. I'm on judiciary. That's still one of those, too, that they

let women go on. But I have told the leadership, "I'm moving up, I

want decision making. I want a chairmanship, or I want a minority

whip. I don't want this any longer, I want to move up. I'm tired of

being stereotyped into this."

J.B.: What did he say?

Cherry: He's shaking his head. He's just shaking his head. I'll

have to resort to something if he doesn't move. But it's the same

sort of thing. What's wrong with transportation, or energy or any

of these? We are still getting pigeon holed in these things.

J.B.: Do blacks tend to coalesce around any statewide candidate for

office?

Cherry: They haven't. We have one young man who probably has the

most charisma and is going to state that he will run this year, and

that is Alce. Hastings. Have you seen him?

J.B.: No.

Cherry: He ran when Lawton Chiles ran. He's very articulate, he's

very handsome. Looks like he has a bright future.

J.B.: From where?

Cherry: Fort Lauderdale. He's a lawyer. He's run, but each time it

has been unsuccessful. That's unfortunate. That's a Republican area

that he comes from. Fort Lauderdale is highly Republican.

J.B.: What's his first name?

Cherry: Alce. A-L-C-E. Hastings. H-A-S-T-I-N-G-S. He's going to

run for the Paula Hawkins seat and I think that he has a good chance of

getting that.

J.B.: On the

Cherry: Uh-huh.


From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 1-~ 7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
PUBLISH MUST BE REQUESTED. WARNING: MOST MANUSCRIPTS ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT.






page 20


J.B.: Is he going to get the Democratic nomination?

Cherry: Yeah. He's run so much, and they know him and they know that

he is capable. They know that he is articulate and I don't think that

they could deny it to him. He carried it for them, I think, on that

U.S. Senate seat that Chiles holds. So, he can hold his own. Money

probably will stand in his way. He has his own personal money, but

I mean getting money from others might stand in his way. But he is

the nearest thing that we have to Julian Bond down here. And I think

that's what people are looking for. You know, that kind of person

to rally around. He's about the closest thing we have.

J.B.: Has he run for the legislature before?

Cherry: I'm trying to think. He's run for the U.S. Senate. .I think

he has. He's run about four times. City commission, Senate and then

legislature. And that's bad. You get in that rut, and people think

that you can't make it. But he may have been a little ahead of his time

on each one of them.

J.B.: Who are Askew's advisors, black appointments?

Cherry: Mrs. Range in Miami, who was his secretary of community affairs.

He has a black now who is assistant secretary of labor, C.

He has Rabin.ell (?) who is one of his assistants or aides, he has

Claude Anderson, who is over education. Those that he has on his staff

I don't think too much of. I think this is probably his downfall to me.

As far as I am concerned, because these are all fellows that are not

from here. And who are not too familiar with the state itself and the

blacks in the state. And the blacks in the state are going to kind of

resent this sort of thing. That's the one place where he makes a

mistake, I think.




From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 1-y7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO
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page 21


J.B.: Well, speaking of Claude Anderson, who is more or less his

top black aide, you think of someone who is not from Florida?

Cherry: He's from Michigan. (to De Vries) Why don't you take him

back to Michigan? (Laughter.) I'm just kidding. I don't think

that you bring a man in from Michigan to tell you what to do with

education in Florida when you've got all these people here that

are highly trained, that have been working in the educational system,

that came up through it, were trained in it, and then you pick

somebody like this, it's sort of a slap in the face. Rabinell is

the same way, he came from somewhere, I don't know where.

J.B.: From South Carolina, maybe?

Cherry: Oh is that where he's from?

J.B.: I don't know.

Cherry: He's a good man, but I'm just saying that people will resent

that. It's as though you didn't have anything available, the local

talent didn't come up to par. That sort of feeling. And I don't

think that Askew realizes that. That's as I see it. I think that

he is a good national candidate, I think that we are going to lose

him to the national scene as Vice-president.

J.B.: How would you feel if he became President?

Cherry: I think that he would do his best. I don't think he would

do very much, but he would do his best. He's very steeped in legislative

knowledge and all that, so we're fortunate in that, and that he's been

in a long time. He knows the legislative process, he knows all about

it. But he is getting more and more conservative every day.

J.B.: He's conservative, or cautious?

Cherry: Cautious, I guess. Yes he's cautious. A much better choice




From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview A-~7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 22


of words. That's it, cautious. And it may be that he's being singled

out so much for the national scene. That may be it. But he's a good

man, he's good. Doesn't smoke, doesn't drink. Conservative man.

(Laughter.)

J.B.: Lester Maddox doesn't smoke or drink either.

Cherry: He doesn't? Does he require that others not do it?

J.B.: I'm not sure. (Laughter)

Cherry: He's running for . what is Maddox running for?

J.B.: He's running for governor.

Cherry: That's right, but how many candidates are there? Seven or

eight?

J.B.: Nine, I think.

Cherry: You know, they are about to have a woman governor in Connecticut.

I just did a seminar at Mount Holyoke. They are about to have a woman

governor in Connecticut, I think Progress. We are going to have some

women in those big positions soon. And some blacks.

J.B.: Do you see more black women running? In Georgia, there are

only two women in the legislature.

Cherry: We've got Grace and Betty, the only two. And both of them are

black. Black women have been able . one thing, we can get more

easily accepted, I believe for the first initial time than black men.

The door will open a little bit quicker for us. And we have been

playing a role of compromise ever since I can remember, between

blacks and whites. In family situations, in home situations, in

service situations and everything. So, we are well equipped for

that.

J.B.: Who is the Congressman from you district?

Cherry: Leaman, the new one. It used to be Pepper until we split it


From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4-417 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 23


up here. Pepper and Leaman are very close, but Leaman is really my

Congressman. I'm looking at him?

J.B.: Maybe he's looking at you ? (Laughter.)

Cherry: He just read one of our resolutions in the Congressional Record

for me last week. On the Haitian situation. We've got a terrible

Haitian situation here, where the United States government will not

grant them political asylum. And I passed a resolution in the house

here and asked that he read it into the Congressional Record, so

we can get some uniform standards.

(end of side A of tape.)



Cherry: I think that it is the government's whole attutide toward

Haiti.

J.B.: You think that it's desperate?

Cherry: Yeah, I think that it's reached over the top. We've never had

too good relationships with Haiti and Papa Doc. So, we've got about

three or four hundred people that have come to these shores, you know.

And they've got them all in jail, locked up in the jails in Miami.

Keeping them back, and they are committing suicide in jail. And

this is the country where they say, "Give me your tired, your

hungry, your whole masses yearning to be free." It's ironic. I

guess I better get back downstairs. Is that about all?

J.B.: Do you have any other questions?

W.D.V.: Thank you very much.

J.B.: We appreciate it.

Cherry: Let me know when your book comes out.

( Interruption on tape.)

J.B.: You just told her that you thought there was more hope for


From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview A7-V7 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 24


the South than any other section of the United States.

Cherry: Yeah.

J.B.: Why?

Cherry: The South coming up with the problems and the solutions to

the problems. I think that we are going get it. You know, our

legislature is number four in the United States as rated by the

Association of . .whatever it is, the legislatures. I think that

we are the ones that are going to be able to solve the problems and

really push forward.

J.B.: You are talking about problems of human relations now?

Cherry: Human relations, that's right.

J.B.: Why?

Cherry: I think that really, we, black and white, can sit down better

with one another than any other group of people. The black and white

southerners can sit down and iron it out. Not withstanding all of

the conflicts and all of the history and all of the past things, we

can still sit down and iron out our troubles and our problems and

resolve them.

J.B.: Does this go back to what you were saying before about how you

find it easier to deal with the native Floridians in the legislature

than the Yankees?

Cherry: That's right. You know, I used to go off to school, you know

how you go off in the summertime. You go off to NYU or to Columbia,

Harvard or Howard. The people I was closest to were the southern whites.

In the classes. I mean, we could find one another, not withstanding all

the differences, with all of the differences, there are more similarities

when you come right down to it. You don't believe me?

J.B.: I do believe you.

From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview A-97 in the Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. FOR REFERENCE ONLY: PERMISSION TO

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