Subject: George H. Gause
Interviewer: "Button Project"
I: Okay, this first set of questions is about the voting rights act
and it's effects. What year did you first register?
G: Well, I'm 55, will be 55, and when I became the age of 21, I
registered to vote at th4i time. In the city of Bartow.
I: Have you lived here all your life?
G: No, I was born in Wilmington, Nrth Carolina, but I've been here
I: Were you ever turned down by local registrars?
G: Never have been.
I: Have there been any voter registration drives held in Bartow?
G: Definitely so.
G: Well, ty y to most all elections thereA number of voter
registration drives in the city of Bartow. Wyll, actually, when
I won, I won through the fact that they had a registration drive,
and I was able to receive more votes than any other individual -ha
everA.k.public office in the city of Bartow.
I: Was it the candidates' organizations that sponsored these drives?
G: Pardon me?
I: Is it the candidates' organizations that sponsor these drives?
G: No, it's the citizens of the city, there are different civic
I: For instance?
FB 38A 2
G: For an instance, Women's, Women's Civic League, Jaycees, Citizen
League and Voter Registration Leagues, they have numerous
organizations here that put on these voter registration drives.
I: Are these drives oriented toward getting the black vote out?
G: Well, all individuals.
I: So there's no orientation specifically?
G: Well, what would you mean by the orientation, are you referring
to more orientation toward the blacks, or what?
G: Well, the main thing is this; before the black5ale~m actually h~L
^4iA nothing to look forward to, and in voting, but since there
have been elected black f4 elected black officials in the
they'vcG been evy Ccc-sf L)
state of Florida, because they've been very successful,Aand they
are, the black people are aware of their vote, and they are
registering and voting.
I: When you said before, do you mean before the civil rights act?
G: Before the civil rights act. In other words, there have been
so many elected officials that actually only look at one side.
They did not represent the entire populace.
I: So you say these drives were successful, in your opinion?
G: Very much so.
I: Are there any things that prevent blacks from registering in
G: None whatsoever.
I: Would you rate these as to whether you think they are of any
importance? The first one is economic dependence on NhitC .
G: A/he question here is, please rate how important you think of
each of the following itemsAin preventing blacks from registering
to vote in your area. Well, as I just stated a few minutes ago,
I mean, a few years back, actually, the black individuals had
nothing to look forward to because they had no one to really
speak up for them, but in the meantime, you've got, see a very
important, very, fairly important, not important, economic
dependence on the white. What do you mean, pertaining to this
I: That means that, would a black man feel that if he voted for a
black candidate, or for someone who, say, his employer did not
feel was the right candidate, would his job be threatened in any
way? Or iA there any psychological pressure that he may....
G: Well, I can speak for myself, here in the city of Bartow, I'm
independent. I'm a mortician, and there is no threat for anything
during my campaigning, because, in other words, I didn't go into
politics just to represent the black, I went into politics to
represent the city of Bartow, and also the populace of Bartow.
And in doing that, which, like I said, I own my own business, and
I'm not obligated to anybody but the city of Bartow, and the
populace of Bartow.
I: So you're saying noneAthese are important?
G: Um, not to me.
I: Do you have any idea of how they affect the average black man?
Whercnvi A-+W v's poss;ibC-
G: Well, there are individuals t1a ug, -jz that, individuals
they're working for might stress the importance of voting for
some individual, but, after all, that's an individuals right to
decide whom he cares to cast his vote for, and, but I have, I do
know some casesA ~6dU-g1l some people had been working for whites
Co VYm $fliSii~r'5
that supported a position wherein the An mp so/b- i fired the
city manager, and this individual worked for one city commissioner
here, and she was fired on those grounds.
I: So, it's of some importance?
I: It is of some importance?
G: It is of some importance, right.
I: What about fear of physical violence from whites?
G: Well, we've been very fortunate here, I can speak for lovidA cnd
I can speak for Polk County, we do feel that we have more black
h6tj Ciat kIle
elected, haveAb*-e. more black elected officials, city officials,
than any other county in the state of Florida. We've had seven
to win, and one appointed, and J 4CdI1 in Polk County that
we've had more black mayors than any other county in the United
States, which we have had three. So, actually, the individuals
who g i''ve eVea ,ran into and talked to, plus, being a black
elected official, I, especially in Polk County, and, well I know
most of them in the state, I don't know of any of them that, where
their life has been threatened, I haven't, my life has not been
I: What about registration forms, would that in any way prevent blacks
G: It would have a tendency to keep some away from it.
I: What about registration hours? e 1 J P rc_-
G: Well, the registration hours are e"l rler
0f. course 4jC.re kc^
8:00 till 5:00, -IdyFi tS individuals who are working, but they
have, in the city,Agone to various places in the district "& a &.
v yPgp the book in order that individuals 46& register after
FB 38A 5
getting off work.
I: What about registration not being held often enough?
G: I think registration should be held every day, to encourage
individuals to register. That is my motto here in the city of
Br tw grsn -nhm Y ohe
Bartow, since, w4ie they are geae now, they, callmec_
but they are still growing, and when they reach the age of
eighteen, that is their privilege to register so they can be,
vote in any practical election, Alel 6 '
I: A/e the books open, how long are the books open each year?
G: The books are open year around until approximately thirty days
prior to some election here in the city.
I: What about indifference of blacks to voting?Do0ost blacks vote
here in Bartow?
G: I would have to say that in some races they show)4, some particular
races, r-ieiea-4 races, at least, they show more interest in that
particular race than they do in others. You take, for an instance,
I ran three times here in the city of Bartow, and I've received
more votes than any other individual who ran for city official here,
and, of course, there lEs always something to, for individuals to
make Mx from voting, and county wide, or city wide, state wide,
national wide, I do not feel that the citizens take advantage of
theirselves, \hn they refuse to go and vote. So, definitely,
individuals do not stress, do not exercise their privilege as 0.
citizen and I would say that We do get pretty good support
here in the city of Bartow as voters, but I would like to see
it other than fouty-four, forty-three per cent voting, who are
qualified to vote. I would like to see at least ninety-nine, and
even one hundred per cent.
I: Is there any difference in participation between blacks and whites
in voting, percentage-wise?
G: Are there any difference, what, you ask that again, please.
I: Is there any difference in the voting participation between blacks
G: It isn't too much. It isn't too much.
I: On the next section of questions deals with election campaigns.
You, yourself was able to campaign freely, is that right?
G: That is correct.
I: Were you handicapped by lack of campaign money?
G: No, I was not.
I: Why did you decide to run for office?
G: Well, having been civic minded here in the city of Bartow for a
number of years, interested in the future generation, interested
in my city, and the feeling that, with experienceAI've had over ~he
t period of years, that I just didn't feel that I should not run
to try to help the city in which I've lived so long. In the
meantime, it's a fact that the black were not getting the type
of privilege that would entitle them to be satisfied, and I just
didn't feel that, actually government was right whenAye~ represents
one race. So my philosophy in which I approached-, my campaign,
in which I have stood by it, and I will continue to stand by it,
and that is to represent the city of Bartow, and all the people
in the city of Bartow.
I; What political organization do you belong to?
G: Well, I'm a democrat.
I: What were the most important issues when you campaigned?
G: The most important issue when I campaigned was an individual who
FB 38A 7
cares, the city of Bartow, who love the opppo. of Bartow, and
a commissioner that would represent all the people.
I: What were the main problems facing blacks at that time?
G: Well, actually, though there were several things that they were
faced with, that blacks were faced with, and that was, well, they
didn't have many working for the city, and plus, there were quite
a few things, quite a number of tihj. wM)JOudsa, that were deleted
in the predominate black neighborhood that was in the budget
over a period of years, and there were several individuals who
actually should have moved up in their positionAin the city2 that
were black, that were not. And that is highly important, in other
words, as I said, I was,AI served the commission, and I served as
an individual who represented the city, and also the city of Bartow.
Aftd I became the so-called2Afirst black man in a4 dointe white c;i+izeMS
ci-t4 i L e reconstructionn days, I didn't serve as a black man,
I served the city of Bartow, and it's populace, and in doing that,
I representAall segments of the city.
I: Okay, the next set of questions deals with the conditions which
enabled blacks to win office. How many times did you run for
G: I ran three times. 'I've been successful three times.
I: Now, when were these?
G: October, I ran for one year, 2une/}ic term.
I: Was this for commissioner?
G: For commissioner. And there were two whites in the race with me,
and I won in the primary.
I: You mean in the first election?
G: The first election. Okay, my second election was for a f-er year
term, for a -for year term, which is three years, the-n, again in
1969, October. I was tk pl in October, 1969, for a three
year term. 1he 1 1972, I ran again, an individual ho 5served
as mayor, and also as a commissioner here in the city, which is
a dentist. Well, he ran against me, and I also defeated him in
1972. So, actually, I'm serving my third term as city commissioner,
which I became mayor in4rg the fourth of January, 1971, for the
first time, then 1974, I also served as mayor of the city of
I: Does that, is the mayor term one year, or does it last the full terrm?
G: For a year.
I: Now, some of these questions I'm going to ask now, I'd like you
to answer them for each election, okay?
G: Um hmm.
I: What, what percentage of the blacks of voting age in your district
G: What percentage of the black are you referring to a city, 4
I: The city.
G: 2 h1' oh, the city.
I: he district in which you're e ec A, so in your case, it's the
city. C kr
G: In other words, the city, because, see, all the-whie, seats are
at large, and we run at large, you see. So it's approximately,
the neighborhood around, well, I can't pinpoint now because they
have a voting registration drive on now, but approximately around
fifty per cent.
I: Um, has that gone up or down in the three elections you've run in?
G: No, I think, it has, it has gone, gone up, in other words.
G: Progressively, rik hl
I: What percentage of the blacks who are registered to vote, do you
think actually voted for you?
G: I would say, probably niktSfr npqiset-e per cent.
I: Do you think everyone registered came out to vote?
G: What-a \WeI et me put it this way, actually, I recieved
better than 500 and some votes more than black individuals who \ierue
really registered to vote, and, at this, at 1968, when I first ran,
tJol a a-theyS had4
that I would say that, I'.iYj\have to say, because -~i ad individuals
who, we had twenty-one cars going, and they kept up with the
numbers and they had individuals name, s| time to pick them up
to go to the polls. And I would say-~ninset-nin- p-ft nne per
cent in my first election, 1968.
I: Have you ever run against any other black candidates?
G: No, I have not.
I: A- the next set of questions deals with how well you represent
the blacks in city. In what way do you think you've helped
blacks by holding office?
G: Well, as I stated before, that I went into politics to help all
the populace of the city of Bartow. And in doing so, quite
natural that 4 was helping the blacks. You take for an instance
when I was first elected, they only had one individual on an
advisory board in the city of Bartow, 3anS which was a token, because
this was the housing board of appeal, and they didn't really meet.
ButI can say that since I've been on the commission, that we've
hadFbetter than fourteen blacks to serve on the various advisory
boards. And we did not have any black department heads here in
the city, fe do have. We did not have any black division ch(rfs
in the city, we do have. We did not have any black-oremg, we
do have. We did not have any black electricians working on lines)
W'e do have. We did not have any blacks working in city hall 3e
do have. So those are some of the things, I could go on and on
for days and days, and tell you the things that really have happened
since I've been electedAin the city of Bartow.
I: Is there anything that you think has prevented you from doing a
G: None, one iota, because actually, like I said, I own this funeral
home, and I have a nephew who is licensed mortician that has been
managing the funeral home mostly since I've been in politics, and
for me, it has not been a disadvantage, it has been, really, an
advantage to me because I'm doing what I've always wanted to do,
and that is help people.
I: Do you find that authority involved in your office has had any,
has that detracted from what you have to do? Are you ever outvoted
by white officials?
G: Well, no, no white commissioner will always vote the same way, but
I have been voted j*%4 against some of tb my recommendations,
and,Aa-$well as the white commissioners have been outvoted as for
their recommendations. So, but usually, and I can say this, that
whenever I move a motion, I know where, where I'm going because
hove,- Wei ficJ
IAn~l M t with myself, to find out whether this is the correct
y g a n and eevo
way to go about it or not, and thon,-gpt.n too many nay votes
to my recommendations.
I: There have not?
G: Have not.
I: And, have you hadAaV problems with revenue being available?
G: Well, we have an, are you talking, what type of revenue are you
I: Um, just the fact that your city is either a poor city or a rich
city. And a lot of the programs, or proposals you have can't be
carried out because of revenue.
G: Well, I think we're very fortunate here in the city of Bartow,
it's the county seat 6f imperial, imperial Polk County, and we
have all the county offices here, and the school board, the county
commission, the hall of justice, the jail, the county stockade,
and various things like that. Now, in revenues, as a whole, we
cou r e
have been very fortunate, -eea.sa this year has been really very
hard on the city due to the fact that we had to rebate back to the
customers 4 utility money that had been collected. And, we
have since the situation exists in, the ronmm line, actually, we
hav emo~e inventory on hand now than we should have, but that is
because once we grant a ~-arct that is a subdivision, what have you,
235 to 236, d whatever type of program it is, m since
Watergate, and haS COy'rC C& -, and things seems to be continuing
to rise, a lot of these projects have fallen, fallen behind the
wayside, so we are running into a situation now, an electricAl
situation due to the fact that it's hard to anticipate a budget
now because of the fuel adjustment that has to be paid. Well,
we, we buy wholesale, buy wholesale electricity from the
Florida Power Company, ad which we retail it to the citizens here
in Bartow/ /nd that has been our main revenue, but since this
fuel adjustment, which we anticipated as so much, so much amount
of money, but, since electricity and this fuel adjustment came
about, the individuals not using their air conditioning as much
as they, sotwe are, at the present now, hurting for money.
I: Do you ever come in contact with federal officials, say for revenue
G: Yes. Well, I can say this, that we got a grant, a matching grant
HII^ r\cou resource
for Ue- mvo noiOar Park,, ye also got a na~t-ion- 4 grant
to develop there, and both of them were $100,000 grants.
I: 'When did you get these grants?
G: We recieved the grant to, for the Mayor 4okl d Park approximately LdA
44i1973. We got this grant to, fromatural Xesources in 1974,
when I was mayor my second term.
I: Have you had much criticism or lack of support from the black
G: I haven't had any at all.
I: They don't think you're any kind of a token in government?
G: No, to be frank with you, if they feel that way, they don't speak
it. Because I'm a person right down on my own two feet, and
nobody's able to guide me in the wrong direction. In other words,
I was elected to represent the city and also the populace, and
that's what I'm doing, and I have been congratulated, not only by
the blacks, but by the whites also /hat I was a person on my
own, and stood on my own two feet.
I: Do you feel that white officials treat you any different than
G: We've been very fortunate, here in the city of Bartow, to have
individuals who were elected to the commission that are very
broad-minded, and were able to, for me to communicate with, and
which none have actually just openly resented me one iota. I'm
able to communicate with anyone.
I: Do you mostly raise issues that are oriented toward blacks, are
they black issues?
G: No, they are not. In other words, when I orient any type of a
situation, it is pertaining to the city, as I said, and also to
the citizens of Bartow. And, in other words, of course, ai issue
could be in a predominate black area, could be in a predominate
white area. But if it is good for the city of Bartow, well, I'm
for those issues.
I: When a black has a problem or a gripe, does he come to you?
G: A number of them, yes, definitely so.A hey did that, they did
that prior to me being elected, since I've been involved in so
many civic organizations in the city of Bartow. Now you asked
I: Do whites do the same?
G: Definitely so. I have been commended by many whites that I am
one of those commissioners, one mayor that will sit down and talk
with them, .o. give them the correct answer, and explain the situation
I: How effective have you been in the following service areas? There
are, there are a ton of them, would you rate how effective you'
think you've been?
G: Police protection, very effective.
I: Why is that?
G: Because we have, are you referring to the police department as a
G: Because, well, we've -4 one of the top chief of police, we think,
one of the smartest fellows here. And we also have qualified
policeman, now, years ago, any individual that wanted to
apply for policemen jobs, iould get it. Now, we've set the standard,
and they have to go to school, and....
I: Do you have two years junior college requirement here?
I: Do you have two years college requirement here?
we have we-
G: No, they go out for six months, Of couv yCnow,,w Aihave a year of
probation for officers, in other words, when they join the force,
they're on probation for a year.
I: Has if, have those come into effect since you've been in office?
G: Yes, they have, yes.
I: Streets and roads?
G: Well, actually, that was one of the main, one of my main issues, 4a -
there were several streets that, all over the city, that had been
in the budget for quite some time, and most of these streets were
in the predominate black areas, and when I was elected, I brought
forth the streets that actually were ABf top priority, and had been
top priority for over a period of years. And working on the budget,
I insisted that these streets be done prior to any other streets
because they'd been top priority streets. So actually, I ap\Aould i S
I: What about housing?
G: Well, I am responsible, really, for the tWb-thi-f*fv homes here,
homes coming to the city of Bartow, I worked along, trying to help
contractors to get these projects, and along the fact that we
had some homes that needed to be torn down, but it was impossible
to condemn them until the people had seo.pl.ace to live. So, until
my first year, as mayor, in 1971, there was more homes built in
the city of Bartow than there had been built in the last ten years.
And what I did, I stressed pride in the city, and pride in your
home, and in the streets, and it had gone a -ong4 ) good 0i i hCC I
the city of Bartow, because they're still building homesAfI ,the
city of Bartow.
I: What about welfare?
G: W11, that ~aeAt situation that I can't tell too much about it,
because we're not involved in theW elfarep/rogram here ,, (to i- oBarmor,
I: Okay. Employment, you mentioned that before?
G: You're referring to employment -o Lk..?
I: 4Mie there been many employment programs for the unemployed, trying
to get the disadvantaged, or.....?
G:A definitelyy so, well actually-, we've taken advantage of the CETA
program, which I guess you might be familiar with, and this _
-f is eu,-- UM MCr xt rn-f n m -
also that)some of-t we've had a number of youthpnet-t work
for the city, the county, and ~fh things like that, there is
I: Would you consider that somewhat effective, or very effective?
G: I'd say very effective.
I: g4iA and recreation?
G: Well, I can say this, that I like to say this with all sincereness,
and sincerity, that I, as personal, as a personal individual, feel
that we have better recreation facilities than any other city in
the state of Florida. And I hope you got a chance to see our
facility. We have a 4P civic center, 1 got better than
4vCMcl ,hf acrcs i Y1
130 acres in Mayor ar d Park hfr r, Mayor Ha-rF HoliJdla
Park.Ajust acquired twenty acres in another park, we have Carver
recreation, that is approximately twenty acres, which we have a
complex with swimming pool, game room, basketball gym, dancing,
and what have you. In other words, we brag on our recreation
services and parks here Imh Cl'r of Baroow.
I: What about water, sewage, and garbage?
G: Well, we, we're very fortunate 2,'47 we have a very fine department
head in charge of sanitation department, which is a black man,
he's the department head, and which he, he was just merely a
sanitation man prior to me being elected to the city of Bartow,
because he'd been with the scu department, also with the
city for quitesome years. And which actually, he was promoted
to division chief, from division chief up to department head, and
he's doing a tremendous job, and he has less turnover5than any
other department here in the city of Bartow. Now, you take the
sewage situation, we did get the grant to extend sewage, and I
think that by, it's only approximately within the city limits,
about forty-eight homes, I would say, that is not on the s-ewetge
line. But we have extended sewage all over the city of Bartow.
I: Do you consider that very effective?
G: Very effective.
I: What about health and hospital?
G: Health and what?
FB 38A 17
G: Well, we're very fortunate, again, here in the city of Bartow&
wz county, Polk General Hospital, which is the county hospital
here in the city of Bartow, and we also have Bartow Memorial
Hospital. We have very, very fine facilities here in the city.
I: What about education?
G: In what respect are you referring to education?
I: Urn, Well Aene ilU .u,, /s an adequate education
provided for all the Bartow citizens? Are there enough classrooms,
are they overcrowded, are X double sessions?
G: Well, I think they cre, if I can remember, I think the elementary,
I o think they have some double sections, but as a whole, the
city of Bartow again, I must say that we feel that we have a
very fine school system here, and may I say this, that we had
less problems with integrating schools here in the city of
Bartow than any other city I know of.
I: Have there been many improvements since you've taken office,
in the school system?
G: Definitely so. Well, we have, we have black councilmen, we have
black, not a principal,Aassistant principal of Bartow High School
he" is black, and we've been able to communicate. In other
words, I can say this, I have been living here better than forty-
six years, in that neighborhood, and we had little trouble
pertaining to races. In other words, we to respectdindividuals,
%ei -f-recJ ^
of course, they, years back, to put every black person
-Ahcy>. lkaVe fCoV4ci
in the same category. Well, that is no more, because aage-
afitr that. there are blacks who are qualified and able to do
things, and there have been a number of principals, black principals
around the county that have been appointed, you see
FB 38A 18
I: What about fire protection?
a.re Y-O- fe
G: Well, wee-t -at..ing- t number Qas:, which is a very, very,
\ieAu # jooJ vdrn3 h in 44. U zI C;F
I: L 1 c gA OY" fire protection.
G: Oh, by the way, and you wanted, you asked about improvements?
Well, actually, 1971, my first year serving as mayor, I broke the
ground, I signed all the revenue certificates, and started a new
city hall, in which, this is the first city hall in the United
States that was led under a black man. Youn see our
city hall across the street from the fire station, diagonally
across the street.
I: Yes, is it a light colored building?
G: Ngf, it's brownish color, it's on the left hand side, it's diagonally
across from the courthouse.
I: Saw the courthouse.
G: YUl, hm Vo L know ut courthouse, well, it's twxz block scq arc.*
I: I'll see it on the way out, I'll look for it. Um, have you, as
an elected official been able to bring any industry or retail storese,,4
to yo.r district?
G: Definitely so, those were the things that I strived, due to the
fact that we felt, years back, that, that man is going, is finally
going to phase out, and we put forth effort, along with the Chamber
of Commerce, to invite industries into the city of Bartow, of course,
and take, well, Bartow being the county seat, which you know,
Polk County is noted for phosphate, citrus, and cattle, and also
I would like to state this. that we, as commissioners, we also
serve as Airport Authority,Awhich we have an industrial airport,
and we have broughtAnumber of businesses.
I: Have you been able to see that blacks are hired fairly in local
G: I have, would you repeat that question?
I: Have you been able to see that blacks are hired fairly in local
G: I've done my best. : do, a beet.
I: I know you've tried.AX:How successful have you been?
G: Well, I have been^sJccessful,,to in that line, I can go through
the county here, and, Bartow the county seat, and see blacks in
different offices, in different areas, working, and these are the
things that I stress. Stress that, actually, and one of the main
reasons of going into government, to see that all people were
treated alike. And, definitely, Ib stressed this, and I do
feel that when an individual is sent out to, well, someone's
cooking for a job, usually they want an individual with six or
seven years experience, and quite natural 0 blacks didn't have
it at that time, due to the fact that they have never had a chance.
So, I kind of instilled in the mind of individuals that they
never would get five or six years seniority if th7edidn't never
got started. So, they are hiring black individuals. Not as
many as I4 wouy hoe, but I can say that it has improved tremendously
since 1968, since I was here.
I: Do you have any ideaAwhat percentage? -Blacks are about thirty
per cent here in the city, aren't they?
G: I would say approximately around thirty per cent black.
I: What about the jobs, the city jobs, what percentage?
G: I would say probably around twenty-six per cent.
I: Have there been any black protests, sit-ins, boycotts, or riots
in your city in the last ten years?
G: We have not had any riots, any sit-ins, ef race riots at all,
in the city of Bartow. Not in the last ten years.
I: Before that, have you?
G: Uh, I can't recall any types of race riots here in the city of
Bartow. I must, I must say this, and I'm being candid, but I
do feel that the relationship that exists here in Bartow is one
of the best that I've ever seen anywhere I've gone. And I've
traveled all over this country, and out of this country also.
I: Have there been any protests, or sit-ins, anything like that?
G: No, we have not had any of those.
I: Any problems in the school?
G: Well, minor problems, you're going to have that, but major problems,
we haven't had many major problems.
I: The next section of questions is to enable us to make an assessment
of black politics in Florida. What's your opinion of Governor
G: Well, my opinion of Governor Askew is, I know him personally, and
I was appointed on the Community Council Board twice. He's been
here, I've met him, fp~I he was here to )orvn Senator, Senator
Holland's funeral, which he died in '71, which I was mayor at that
time, and I would say that Governor Askew has shown quite a bit
of progress here in the state of Florida, but I'm still feeling
that there should be more black individuals appointed by e8
GovernorA, A keA
I: Is there any other state official that you have a.........
(END OF SIDE ONE)
FB 38A L
G: Raining out there. Was it raining when you came?
I: No, but it was looking that way.
G: Now, what was that, uh...? h ri s
I: The question was aboutAany other state official besides Governor
G: Uh, I wouldn't like to comment on that at the present.
I: All right. Do you think that winning and holding office in Florida
has been worth your effort? am
G: Very definitely so. I, as IAstated before?4,/ p lwi very much
concern in the city of Bartow, about the city of Bartow and it's
populace, and having seen these things done in the city of Bartow,
and seeing the relationship and the communication so much better
than it has been, these things are inspirational to me. Because
I feel that if an individual lives a life, and they have not done
anything to help their fellow man, then their life, actually,
will have been in-vain.
I: This last section of questions deal with your profile. You've
been a commissioner and a mayor, and you were first elected in '68?
G: That is correct.
I: And have continued serving in one office or another until the present?
G: That is correct. In other words, I have been mayor twice, I
was mayor in '71 and also '74.
I: You've run three times.:4t
G: That is correct.
I: ..wsand you're between thirty and forty-nine?
I: You're between thirty and forty-nine years old?
FB 38A 2,
G: No, to be exact, I'll be fifty-five November the sixth.
I: Okay. What education have you had?
G: Well, I have a degree from Florida A & M University, a B.S. degree,
I have a degree in mortuary science.
I: What was your father's occupation?
G: He was a mortician, as, the same as I.
I: What is the salary you recieve from your elected position?
G: Uh, you mean per month?
I: Per month or yearly, whichever.
G: Well, we receive $10.00 per month, plus $40.00 expenses.
I: When you were mayor, did you, was there an additional allottment?
G: No, it was not, we received the same amount.
I: Were you active in the civil rights movement, between '60 and '66?
G: No, I was not.
I: Was there any reason for that?
G: Uh, let me, uh, back up there for a moment. I didn't quite understand
the question that you were asking. Now, what are you talking about,
when you asked me whether I, I was active bse rb&wm 1964
I: The civil rights movement.
G: &,movement. What perspective are you referring to now?
I: Well, in any aspect, were you involved in any of the NAACP activities,
or any organization like that?
G: NAACP, yes, I was.
I: Did you do anything specific in that organization?
G: Well, I, actually, I communicated with individuals and, worked hard
while I knew Dr. Martin Luther King, because he was in college
Moorehouse when I was in CoHl6. Of course, I had
finished Florida A & M at that time, and had served for three
months in the service, but I met him there in Atlanta, and we
became close friends, and I worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther
King here and there in different movements, and trying to instill
in the minds of individuals that all people, all individuals
should be treated alike, and not as black or white.
I: What church do you belong to?
G: First Provident Missionary Baptist Church.
I: Are you an official in that church?
G: Yes, I am business manager of the church, and I'm also business
manager of the trustee board.
I: Are there any other community activities, or organizations that
you belong to?
G: I'm a Mason, I'm an Elk, I belong to Coyend Parent's Group,
Chamber of Commerce, Civic Club, fraternities, you name them,
I belong to them.
I: Do you know of any other black officials that have been elected
in the state since '74?
G: Since '74? (Pause) Since '74. We have, I'm trying to,4 think
I know Lvimel G(& er'h from Winter Haven, elected, I think, in
'74, but you meanAsince '74. (Pause) Right off hand, I, I can't,
I know, because there are quite a few whent been elected, but I
don't know, in other ~Zaif, I get the roster ofAblack elected
officials, which, actually, we did organize an organization, I was
elected president of that organization, and, of course, we decided
we would change the name, and, that would take in anybody who was
interested in the betterment of the cities, and the municipalities,
and also the state. But, offhand, I can't recall anyone, anyo76,C1
black having been elected since 1974. Not that there has not
been any, but I can't recall, because I know that two were elected
here in '74, in Polk County.
I: Um hmm. What effects have running and serving in office had on
you and your family?
G: Well, actually, this (4 a situation that I had to weigh prior to
going into politics, with my family, and I knew that it would
cause quite a bit of rdfec(ny things that I needed to do for
my family, in other words, be i family, but this
was understood with my family prior to me going, and they took it,
and they understood it, and it has worked out beautifully.
I: How do you feel, do you get a great sense of satisfaction?
G: I get a great sense of satisfaction, because I've seen so many,
so many, so much progress, may I say, since I've been an elected
I: When were you working with Dr. Martin Luther King?
I: When were you working with Dr. Martin Luther King?
G: Well, I wasn't working directly with him, but communicating with
him on different problems.
I: When was this?
G: This was back in, well, actually, back prior to me being elected,
this is after the election of Dr. Martin Luther _King really
encouraged me to run for politics because I felt that the man
had done a splendid job and that they, having been holding an
office in the National State Mortician's Association for twenty-
two consecutive years, I felt if I could do something for my
national and state organization, that I could do something for
my city, and which I'm very proud to have done.
P) ELlNP OFP IT6ERV VV]