Title: Samuel Allen
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Full Text





FB 40AB

Tape A

Sub: Samuel Allen

Int: "Button Project"

7-28-75

Crestview

A.M.

Page -1-






I: ...... several questions-that are trying to determine how well the Voting

Rights Act of 1965 C-VC\c-(\ has,ubl helped blacks take part in

the Florida politics and basically we're mgan ask you about your own

experiences as far as voting is concerned. What year were you first....

did you first register to vote?

S: What year did I first register to vote?

I: Yes.

S: Oh, now that was.... I guess say by the time I first reached twenty-one

or twenty-two.

I: So......

S: Which was back in '40, back in early 40s.

I: So there's no difference s, ,-'r ou registered to vote just about

the same time you became eligible to vote?

S: Right.

I: Do you know has..... have there been any voter registration drives held

here in......?









FB 40AB (tape A )


S: Uh, not to a great extent. There have been some dii'. small amount lC( L I t-S

0tN--,-i le I' about yi know being registered to vote and efforts have

been made by various groups to get those who are unregistered to

register to vote. They would pay us. .I .think that the first time that

this A drive really was on was back in 1966. I think this is the

first time that I qualified to run for an office and I think this is the time

when they decided that maybe should be more blacks registered and it was

an all-out drive then to get blacks registered to vote.

I: You say the time you qualified for office?

S: Yes, qual... qualified to run for office.

I: You... you were not qualified before that time or you ,,7

S: I guess what I mean when I say qualified, that is when I paid my qualifying

fees to run for office the first time which is in 196L.
)
I: Oh I see. Were there.... these efforts to encourage people to vote, were

these ,aO, sponsored by any organization in partic lar or,,7

S: Well, at the time- 3 this club is not functioning too Wd now which

we refer to as the Civic Club. They were the spirit leaders of the first

c(4 But since that time, there have been other groups a~j, yf

know local clubs. I don't know exactly which ones aj since

then2 Aut in 1966 the Civic Club was supposed to be Q. t headed for

the registration drive.

I: The Civic Club was local leaders?

S: Right, it was local leaders.

I: That was in 1966. How successful was that drive, the '66 drive?

S: Well, I think it was quite successful. t I believe we had.... we were

able to get double the number of registered voters when they had this.

I: Did the NAACP or any other civil rights groups' i help in voter registration


-2-








FB 40AB (tape A)


I: drives that you can remember?

S: No.

I: Do ye;~ ekwkf either today or in the past, have there been-4Sf anything

that have prevented blacks from registering to vote?

S: Not that I know of. Jj-.- thought back again to when I first registered

and maybe I should've said that I was in Tallahassee then, I was living

in Tallahassee when I first registered to vote and there was no opposition

there. And when I came to CLci WCAs in 1949, I AiY immediately

registered to vote and there was no opposition. There has never been

as far as I know, any reason why a person who wanted to register, couldn't

register to vote.

I: Well, following that up on a little bit just so we can be more specific

about it, we have a list of things here that in the past at least, or

in some areas that have qa been ..., problems have been #bp i|vp-rh--5

for... for blacks to register to vote and we'd like you, if you may, to_

.'-:.to rate how important these things have been to your knowledge in

this area and 4 perhaps comment on the b e n,. First one uh, economic

dependence on whites. Has that..... on whites. Has that been a .... a

problem, inhibiting people to register?

S: k generally, I would say no. Maybe to a small degree that may have been

and I use the term that'. .. when..,*r.,y person was..... I guess I say,

when we.... f we asked a person..... the whites their opinion and they

gave it and they accepted their opinion, I believe this would be more

along the line of what t,,,, wherever..... .f there was any economic

dependence, only because of the work that this person's made. .ft

e>rSt! fh~ a ppted the way that they wanted them

to vote or something. But, this was obviously way back and since that









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: time and definitely from the time that I registered to vote, there have

not been any economic dependence upon whites at all.

I: So.....

S: So I would say for the last twelve years, the answer to that would be "no".

I: Not important.

S: So would you like me to check this?

I: Yes please.

S: So it's obviously not important at all for this one.

I: And fear of physical violence?

S: And there was no fear of physical violence. In fact, there's never been

Lk as far as I know, fear of physical violence. As far as registering,

now I was told and this goes way back I< I say some of the
/
older people who lived in the area, that there were .... un;.one or two

instances where there were attempts to stop them from voting, not registering

to vote. They wereW4 registered. But there were one or two attempts

to stop them from voting and I think this was back in the early 40s, I

believe it was. In fact, I know it had to be either early 40s or 30s

because I hadn't come into the area at that time.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: Soyt4<;.r~o'!... since that time there has been no fear. In fact, any-

one who wanted to ,f just walk in and register and when it come down

to time to voting, they won't go in to vote.

I: Has the.,k.1( .Has' ihR.c 1HaI.sa'~lan been very strong here in "this area

or been a problem?

S: I would say that sixty to seventy of the people fS. other than

what they read in the paper, don't even know they exist. In fact, at

one time and I'm not sure exactly what year this was, but there were ,.-.-.
I


-4-









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: a cross burning Ol -C ''' But this wastlg-rI believe it was in

the early 50s. I'm not exactly sure of the year but I would say around

'51 or '52. I was~is-Yn fact, I didn't see it but I was told that there

was one o IA But other than that, there has been no 74g sign

of alans operating in the area.at all.
I: Mmm hmm. How 6bout &s more legal t. restrictions, things like that?

Complicated registration forms?

S: I have never know of any complicated registration, 4 forms because

it's always been 1 IS 0- simple, ordinary form. And it's veryps",w /s

far as I recall, w-cth4- T-e ysjeL I- o / T almost just a

matter of two or three questions to whether or not you were a free holder

or what party you are affiliated with and something of this sort and

this is basically about all that I can recall that every,,4 ever was asked.

In fact, I've never heard anyone say that they had any trouble,--. ftfft ,

getting registered to vote.

I: Was there a problem with 4, some people not being able to read the forms

very well and
4 not being able to a< to read in some cases?

S: no. Now it may have been from the standpoint that some of them may

have been afraid that they wouldn't be able to read the form to fill it

out.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: But, as far as going in and getting the form and reading it to fill it

out, I hadn't heard of any difficulty from that standpoint.

I: Mmm hmm. 41? how about things like poor registration hours?

S: Now when you say poor registration hours, what do you mean?

I: limited hours M maybe oLb, open dIy the day, the registrar of


-5-









FB 40AB (tape A)


I: elections perhaps had had only opened the books, election books,,for

limited periods of time, wasn't available basically for x &;'f people

a-4 come in to vote that are registered.

S: You are saying that 4 even though the office itself may be open from

8:00 to 5:00, but the registration hours may be cut much shorter than

at 8:00 to 5:00?

I: Oh yes or purposely kept '.l-af-.#Isuch that.ri. -hatttyh, especially

working people were denied the ability to go down and register?

S: Well,,fi, if I go way back, I don't recall whether this was or not but

I do know that they had been open from 8:00 to 5:00 basically and as

far as I can recall, getting close to voting time, the supervisor of

registration has always used maybe one or two, maybe three weekends, maybe

say)Saturday mornings to register anyone that would wanted to register.

And/JX of course, not in the last two or three years but earlier, I

do recall that they brought the books out into the areas,<4 you may have....

No you didn't. You didn't come this way but there's a rN-SCrvC- hall

up the street and-dP I remember on two or three ocassions that she's taken

off on Saturday morning from probably 8:00 or 9:00 until 12:00 and

brought the books out into this area where they could register to vote

when they got ready to. So, I won't say that poor registration hours has

been a factor because I think that they have gone as far as I think they

could go. When they bring the books from the office out into the areas

which I think they're taking most of the areas, not just in the black

areas, but they're taking them to the whites too.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: Because )sayyou may not know the geographic set up of this town but,

if you came in from 4.c l G'-C ug t you'd notice that there were.... it's








FB 40AB


S: about thirty miles from the coast and until recently, they did not have

the branch office down there and everybody would have to use the court

house. They have to come all the way to Crestview.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: And of course, there's also place they call Blackl-d' which is about

twenty miles, twenty-five miles northwest and another place about twenty

miles CI- l I.i ____c which is north or northeast.

I mean those areas are y) know somewhat out and I think that they rCm--

:-- / for them too the same as they work here in Crestview with the people

and trying to get them to,.-..- give them y know a better chance to register.

So, I would say that ,',, I'll have to check this as not

important because that's the least Ccw .

I: ?. Ht how #bout do O )L 'No auMzt64a~Trr, such things

as re-registration f~f the purging of voter lists because of non-voting

_\-(c have been applied discriminatorily to _-,.,a blacks?

S: Mmmmm no, not that I know of. ..I'~7 As far as I can recall that Z7.

1ell now, I hati't just say gone in and checked it myself but I believe
A
that when they A~, every so often, I think it's about every five years

I believe it was. Five or ten years, that they go through and they-., you

havp't voted in last one or two elections then you are ,~ you are sent

a card and y.-u^if you wanted to remain on the books, then you sent that

card back and if you didn't return that card then they pull your name from

the list. But see this meant that the person didn't have to go in and

re-register. Just send that card in and show his intent to vote in

the next election and then you were said to be registered to vote. So, I

wouldn't say that it was used Mi y know against blacks here.
/ !


-7-








FB 40AB


I: And how (bout as far as, .li' -?e !c<- '- blacks to register

to vote extending from just general indifference? Of r A -tv Cgv a

feeling that ijt.a it doesn't mean anything. .-- .- .. T.- ..-

S: 4- repeat your question again, \ Jo (\ t C dir t c...- '

I: -:'^ ^ ' h '-.^J hiave there been blacks T oh ( -vo- '

has this been a problem concerning the standing that they have failed

to register to vote because of general indifference and apathy?

S: U5- I'm gonna say that apathy was the ,e,.,, basic reason unless it would

be the lack of understanding as to the importance of being registered

to vote. I think this might be more it than apathy. I think it's the

lack of understanding. They really don't recognize the importance of that

vote that they have. Because they have one vote and I have heard many

times say that thisAe,, my vote won't count. Well, you never think

about ever ime your ,ponent doesn't get a vote then dee-_< I mean if

you don't vote for him) /hen if you don't vote at all you are helping

him as helping the other fellow who you might favor. So, I think it'll

be more or less on that part, is not really understanding the importance

of that one vote that they have. P' I think too, probably,-.,.,-look

at it from a standpoint that_-<..the educational level of some of them

0oing back now from yP know those who are forty, forty-five, fifty, 46BO

I think that the educational level of those people might have a lot to

do with xf that they really understand it. Because since they didn't

go very far in school, they probably do not really understand many of the

things and how important it is to register and have a voice in the govern-

ment.

I: Mmm hmm. ,, how would you characterize that as& fr question as that?

The indifference of blacks to vote? Would that be ,^y^9 as far as









FB 40AB (tape A)


I: purveying registration or early registration? Would you say

that was very important or fairly important or what?

S: How is that now? 7

I: How would..... how \jooir /a C-' ?

S: .

I: Yes. How would you.... you rate that?

S: Well, I mean, I think that, as I stated, that the lack of really understanding

Vba why IA% their vote is necessary is the main part. hr ., And

the limited amount of education I think would be the basic factor. I

think that's the only way I could answer that.

I: .cA4. G46^y.

S: Now as far as rating it, I don't know which way would be the best

way to rate this. ft maybe this would be the only one that I would say

fEY I believe it was very important. T .i;,r, this part that it always

kinds get next to me when I know a person simply voted and doesn't vote.

And there are times when some of em will tell you that they are registered

and you know that they are not registered. Just not to be bothered. So,

I would say that this would be an indifference I think yL know towards
-1I /
the voting. And I think it's important. because

books are open all the time but it's just nobody say nothing about

registration.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: So, that's just -r;~C See the books, since they're open

all the time and anytime a person wants to he can just walk in and

say he wants to register. But nor.. know I think it's just common

that no one wants 4q worries about registering until coming up to an









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: election. Then everybody then began to decide whether or not he's registered,

he's not registered. And then decide that he need to go check on it orfrge

go vote or I think in many cases maybe the blacks have not just given it

too much of a thoughtv,.y until it's a little bit too late. Just like

now we have an election coming up next month. No not next month, month
/ /-
after next. And the books close Saturday. Now at would be I would say,

fifty or seventy-five people who will probably go down to the registration

desk to register this week and next week when they should've gone last

week.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: But they didn't do it and now it's a little ,4.1, it's too late.

I: 0 O Ad* are you elected. ,vn the elections here, did you run at-large

or in a district?

S: I ran in a district. Maybe I should explainat-large and in a districts

voting procedure is the same. There is not difference. Now, here in

Crestview, we have five councilors, one from each of the three precincts)

4F" districts and two at-large. But, the citizens in the entire city vote

for all five of the councilors. So, I don't think it make much difference

whether you are running at-large or you are running in the precinct. #E

*rja~Zf Except that if you run in the precinct, you have to be in

the precinct. If you run at-large you can live anywhere andAo.*,0, Aut

since everybody votes for )4. 1n other words, they have to vote for five

councilors.

I: Mmm hmmm.

S: YA know one from each of the five ~1U; areas. Then it doesn't make much

difference whether he's in a precinct or he's at-large because the same

people 4 you wx itfhave to get votes from all areas anyway.


-10-









FB 40AB (Tape A)


I: Mmm hmm. Do you). ut you do represent a district or are youl, are

you only at-large?

S: Wel l) basically we are supposed to represent the entire area and I tell
o%
y it's kind of a complicated thing to explain but earlier, I think when
f LJc-f)!4^ I
the S- e was first set up, there were one councilman who was supposed

to be primarily concerned with that one district which he was living,

which he ran to represent and then there were two who represented the

..... y( know a cross-section of all three of the districts. But, about

seven or eight years ago, this was basically changed because the councils

felt that they should not be pinned down to represent only one 4p, district,

that they should be representing all the citizens for the city rather than

just one district. And so, this somewhat was ,'., I guess you say agreed

upon by the council that they would be representing all the areas rather

than just representing one area.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: So I represent the entire city.
-2-,
I: U0 6 I'd like to ask you some questions about the election campaign.

Now, how many times have you ran?

S: 07 four times.

I: Four times. Have you been elected four times?

S: No. The first time I ran, I ran unsuccessful. In fact, I ran and I was

in the run-off and I was defeated in the run-off.

I: What year was that?

S: This was in 1966.

I:
c0,
S: But I was ,'.:. I think second high person in the t./'o.: yA know in the

general election and then the run-off then I was defeated. I don't know


-11-








FB 40AB (tape A)


S: exactly but/ somewhere I have a record of all of this but it wasn't too

f/ large. I mean the voting. That is, the way I was defeated wasn't

too large which gave me an encouragement that maybe next time I could

run and win because in 1966 1f I was) ..-'. ell, I mean, there were

many people who knew me but they didn't know me well enough to know that

I was sincere about what I had said to them in my campaign. And so there

were many people who didn't vote for me simply because they didn't know

and of course I was told this after the election was over and some of them

got a chance to talk with me and found out more about me, see? Then

they'd know he say that they didn't vote for me simply

because they didn't know who I was and what my motive for running was.

In fact, being the first black to run in this area, I think it kinda shocked

quite a few people when I qualified and Ia J4 I think that maybe some of

them thought that it was a group like the p/y probably the NAACP or

something that was putting me into it. But I assured them early that

I was doing this strictly on my own because of my feelings and my

conviction. So, A even my opponent never brought up any of this because

they didn't have a foundation. In fact, it wasn't there anyway. T1, but

I think just the idea well, for the first time I believe., 4o I believe

this is the way we wrote it up for the first time in the history of

northwest Florida that a black had qualified to run for an elective office.
O '
So, they//17 just thought that maybe it was gonna be~#, /y know maybe

fay some problems or something if I was elected. Some of them didn't know

irJ the people, other people who were gonna be elected, were gbt take having

a black on the council with them.,:;. and the like so/ I think they just


-12-








FB 40AB (tape A)


S: decided that they better cast their vote for someone else. But after the

first few years I think enough people then were able to find out more

about me and decid~p/that if I ran again that they would vote for me instead

of probably.,y .f Y/ know unless they had a better candidate to vote for.

I: Why did you decide to run ,~t fr/ that first year?

S: Well, I decided to run because I had seen so many things that seemed to

be missing in the city that I thought that the city should have and that

we should be enjoying and not just say this area which I'm living in but,

the entire city. /i}f one of the things/4tri well, three things that were

primarily my _e.Cu C s ggs to get some more paved streets in the

city, to get some 4a4 water to some of those citizens who didn't have it,

4V and to get sanitary sewage to those people who didn't have it. 0

eyen though before I qualified to run;r~r. Well now the first time

before.oy when I qualified, they hadn't floated uon\-the/issue but

after I qualified the first time and was defeated, they did sell some

bonds to extend the sewage to all areas but it still wasn't covering all

of the citizens and the areas. And this isIph these are my primary concern.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: And I told em that that's what I was concerned. Of course, another one was

recreation. I was interested in recreation because the children didn't

have any place to play but in the streets. There were no parks or anything

Aj for them to go to and I thought that ti e should've been d, yA

know park of some type so that they could go to in the summeintime and

the afternoon after school and not be in the streetSplaying.

I: Mmm hmmm. .fot in .
S: Well, I was elected in '68, '70, and '70s- v-, '68, '70, and '73.

I: Mmm hmm. Are you currently serving on the council?


-13-







FB 40AB (Tape A)


S: 9you say I'm currently serving what?

I: Are you currently a member of the city council?

S: Yes.

I: And your term of office is up.....?

S: In November.

I: In November. Are you running again then?

S: Well yes, I think I'll qualify to run.

I: Is that x4 /ere you off the council for one year or.....?

S: No 4*,,,

I: Was it a three year term?

S: The.... If you recall, the state legislature changed the 4~ election

date for all state offices and that day interfered with the iul' city

election. I think this was in 4~.-.- -w, I think it was. Know

when they changed to September?

I: Mmm hmmm.

S: 4t. well our election only come up in September and we were supposed to

have an election fy/, in September of '72 and since the state moved

their election to September, this meant that there was eona be confusion

f bafstie. city officials as well as state officials all in September

so we &rf changed our election date to the following year.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: And A, this meant that ~i; we had three years to serve before we run rather

than two. So, from '70 to '73 gave us three years instead of two years.

I: ulf were you able to campaign freely in all your elections? That is, were

you]/,r did you receive any threats?

S: No. Now let's just say part that I wase~- kinda expected in '66 that I


-14-









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: might have received some 1'.*.. probably some phone calls or something but

I never did receive the first one. Even the time that I was defeated,

I never did receive the first 44. no threats at all. In other words, the

only thing I received was some encouragement I didn't receive too much

.ac$ in '66 but in '68 I received quite a bit encouragement. In fact,

I evenr- /n urd most instances they did notpr ome of them

identify themselves and others didn't. But in '68, I received calls asking

me if I was gsw qualify and run again. And at the time I j:g- it was

a little early and I hadn't fully made up my mind but I had been thinking

about it strongly and I was encouraged then to qualify and run. They

thought I had a good chance. As I say, these.i~7 some of these were the

people that had talked with me during the time after the '66 election

because they didn't know exactly who I was and what I stood for. So, they

were telling me that they understood and that they would .... thought that

I would get sufficient support to win the election and I was encouraged

to qualify and run.

I: Has iL lack of campaign money been a problem for you?

S: No, it has not been a problem. b1k, _he first year, in '66, 4,p I got good

support from all of the black clubs around and this is the only support

that I received but I received good support. In fact, the -;..- u running

didn't cost me 05-c- CW-.\ cA6" '^ to run because I got sufficient

support where I didn't have to put in more then $100.00 of my funds. In

'68 I got good support from the black and I got some fair support from

the white. This is financial support. So, it didn't cost me /tyi'l il

say less than $200.00 in '68 to run.


-15-









FB 40AB (Tape A)


I: Of your own money?

S: Right. And in '70?4- I got tremendous support from the white population

and equal support from the black. And I believe in '70 it didn't cost

.but $50.00 of my own money to run. Of course in '72pA% '73 I was unopposed

so I didn't have to spend any funds at all.

I: Mmm hmm. 00 ) r j

S: g/I'm a democrat.

I: Mmm hmm. Did they help?

S: 'flf no, they didn't help. In fact, 'IT. ;, I wasn't an active member,

just ,, -:,.' consider myself as being a democrat, probably say supported

the democratic principle but not an active member of any party.

I: These are nonpartisan elections here then?

S: Right.

I: y I think you might have touched on this earlier. What were the two

or three most important issues in your campaign?

S: Well I think I have 4, touched on them already and that was the streets,

getting better streets throughout the city, and recreation was another one

which I consider very important, and sanitary sewage was another one that

I bry consider very important.

I: Do you)eqyq o you believe that Kh'e9t.-, these issues were the main

issues facing the blacks in this community, the same problems facing 4'.

were the issues ty / were the same or were there others?

S: Oh well, I think they were the things that were facing the entire city

not just the black. I think the streets and the sewers were facing the

black's prophecy moreso. ~4f the reason I say streets and sewers were facing


-16-








FB 40AB (tapeA)


S: moreso because 41, up until I was elected, the only streets that were

paved in the black area was one that was14-. well, those that were put

in by.;%y1 I think the the WPA. You probably remember when

the WPA was working. And h. since that time, the state and their cut-

off road going through cities rather than^,Sgo down the main highway,

they.... they trucks that they y/ know),.-. ya krw- put in some uh, cut-

off roads. And the state put in one secondary road. And those are the

only streets that were paved in the black community. Of course, in many

other white areas they face the same problems. IN the older area of the

city r-li f course, well, when I say the older area, I'm speaking now

about that area which was developed back in '35,'36, and early 40s, was

the ones where \p had streets that were put in by WPA. Now any of the

other areas that,~w-is. if it wasn't a developer that went in and put in

streets when he was building several homes, then those streets were not

paved until after we V. well, until after '68. And this is in both

black and white areas.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: Most of the white homes were equally as -A\, in need for paved streets as

they were in black. But this is not saying that we shouldn't have. This

meant that the whole city needed em and this is why we thought thatki"W-0Vy

we should be concerned with the whole city rather than y know) just certain

areas of the city.

I: Mmm hmm. How many people are in your district? Population of this district?

S: Mmmmmm. I don't know exactly but I would say that there are about 25~7.

.2.-e-I "say about 2,500.

I: IrFM and what percentage of that 4%.: is black? Approximately?


-17-








FB 40AB (tape A)


S: Well, I would say the majority of them and maybe say about 1.500 black and

maybe 1,000 white.

I:,-$I. That's about 60 per cent.



I: -.O t. -UYU what percentage ofif,, blacks tte voting age are registered to

vote?

S: ,k I can't answer that one because~ ig since the county's handling all

of the voting, it's difficult y/ know to say. see the county precincts

and the city precincts do not run concurrent. T@e- e, There's an

overlapping. The county precincts extend much further than the city precincts

extend. So, it's difficult to say how many di4yqy know registered any.

I: Well, how cAbout just for the* for the city as a whole, do you have

any idea? Make a..',:"-g...an educated guess on it?

S: AI to make an educated guess, I would say that we have about 3,300

people registered to vote.

I: And :z,/-aithab ,:,that's the city as a whole?

S: That's the city as a whole.

I: And ,$15f.i. c6ulrJ "y6o. .. could you venture a guess on s, as a city as

a whole 41, what percentage of blacks the voting age are registered?

S: Uh, no But I would say(fft4 0o, I couldn't. I might be way off in any

figure that I give.

I: So 4lf could you od~/i-' make a some sort of estimate about what percentage

of .';., ~ blacks who are registered voted when you were elected?

S: Um, I would say A./.; it's hard, but I would say V, /ou mean of the total

votes that were cast? I <.4


-18-









FB 40AB (tape A)


I: Yeah.

S: *th4'.'. I would say out of the total votes that were cast that maybe

there were about 20 per cent of them were black.

I: Do you believe/4frQa.i you got any votes from whites?

S: I yes I did. I would say that 70 per cent of my votes were from whites.

I: In all three elections:ydf.fr. you won?

S: Right. In all three elections.

I: How many opponents did you have in your elections? '73 you ran unopposed.

S: ;Ih, well as I told you, the last election I ran unopposed so I had no

opponents. In the election before that one, in '70, I-w'.had five

opponents and ua', those five 1i, there wasn't a run-off so I was able to

win the election without a run-off for the five opponents.

I: Ae'e w, Were t~ir e.,e /hey all white or were there some blacks?

S: No, they were all white.

I: In '68?

S: Then in '68 there were five opponents then and lh I didn't get the majority

in that general election but I was high Nc' in the general election.

And I was very opposed to getting a majority. But probably less than 100

votes and in the run-off and I say ].,rS, got almost two-thirds of the votes.

I: And those were all your ?

S: Right.

I: So you got abouttr...TtlW^ ,r/in the run-off elections, you said you

got about 66 per cent of the votes?

S: Right.

I: And in '70 what was your percentage then?

S: p~h~ I would say I had about 60 per cent of the votes cast in '70.
Ut


-19-









FB 40AB (tape A)


I: ______ _________. -i,* the next series of questions

has to deal with mainly u5,," how you view how effective you were in office

or how effective you have been or continue to be in office. In what ways

d6 1yu t '. do you feel you have helped blacks by holding office?

S: Well,,'.;'.:~";b;' that would be difficult to say in terms of what ways that

I feel that I have helped them. ta I would think basically that I have

helped the entire city equally. In other words, blacks as well as whites.

O; I guess maybe since we started with the dtfU sewage because these were

major projects that I. 'd' thought was important and we were able to get

going immediately after va know we were elected. In fact, during this

and in '68 there was an entire new council elected in '68 and strangely

enough, all of us seemed to have basically the same idea and that was to

work for the entire city. And the things that I wanted to work for were

the same things that the other four basically wanted to work for too. So,

4fis streets were one of them and we started a program of street paving

and of course, it was continued throughout but with a small amount of

revenue. You could only do a small amount at a time. 4; there were, ~

I would say twenty requests from different areas of the city for streets

to be paved. Some of those requests were short streets maybe three or

four blocks and some of them were requests for streets as much as three

quarters of a mile long. And I think that we have been successful in

getting quite a few of those paved until the funds ran out and we no longer

had funds to spend. In 4dt area of the sewage, we have been able to 4%.

extend their/ sewage to Ahr with the exception of a few isolated areas 4A,

you probably are familiar with. These areas where you have to put in a

lift station in order to y/ know get the sewage out of there. Some of


-20-









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: these areas have not been serviced as yet because of the expense involved.

But where we could use gravity flow for most of the sewers we were able

to get all of those people sewers except a few people who did not care

to have it. They didn't use septic tanks and they have not seen fit

yet to change it. .Of'cdu're-.theydo have a law in the book now that

says if a tank goes bad and you are within 4 reach of a sanitary sewer

then you must hook on to the sewer line instead of repairing that septic

tank. So, in the next few years I think we will get most of these people

on because tb'ev y e 1-f' ---'A- nowAfrom five to ten years old and

naturally they, .,. about served their lifetime where they'd have to

go in and put in new drain feeders and all of this. So, we've been able

to get sewers i-pw&'. lines to most of the people. We've been able

to get water to ~ ~,- -.. his is jbj six I six and eight inch water

line so that they would be able to have WAj fire plugs for fire protection

toemost
until seven or eight years ago, had a two-inch water line so -t all of

this area over. But since that time, an eight-inch line has been put

down so that we could have fire protection. And these are some of things

that we've... .,.-. : nd "ide d *1 i T..

(Begin side 2)

S:- ..... arnb-e to build recreation facilities and P I guess we received

recognition as being probably the best recreation facilities in north-

west Florida. Probably. I don't know whether you rate something......

I: CS^ icV v ^ e -c \ -( v I^-v ^ pr: tennis courts and.....

S: Right.. So, all of this was done by the present council that's in now.


-21-








FB 40AB (tape A)


S: In other words, the area that you saw was a .'.-.I think they call it

PO< ( 4L&A Railroad. That was 4 here was just

a pond then with water that they used to fill their hinges when they

came through and needed water,<1.- until after we took over and it

was supposed .r41i; Yhe lake is vy-/e e had rebuilt it, damned it

up so we'd have a lake there too but the whole area has been built up

by us. And of course we put up a few buildings. We had an old dilapidated

city hall and Offwe have been able to get Mj4 city hall and public safety

building constructed apdd' .'.---- and we're now in process of building

a library. We initiated the idea but we did not put the bulk of the money

into it. Ya~ probably have*- heard something about the Bob Sykes Memorial

Library

I: w we know about Mr. Sykes f and we're familiar with him.

S: Well 6, there's one.s2:.Z it's a library going up just on the east side

of 20th Park-fil, in his honor. But we started off first to build just

an ordinary city library and somehow it began to mushroom and finally

ended up going from the-. ,*.r maybe say LS between IrCbI j C

$60,000.00 and we're gonna get matching grant from the state for $60,000.00

which made $120,000.00. And4At we were told that that was-gase be a

little too small so we changed it to $75,000.00I ____ $150,00.00

and we got $150,000.00 from the state and then decided that that was Igi

be too small. So, he started al,4, I think they called it the Bob Sykes

Trustee. Something so the Ir, anyway a group of men wanted to ~Iyshow him

their honor and recognition and they decided that if we would include all

of it together that they would get sufficient funds to build a library.


-22-








FB 40AB (tape A)


S: So now I think it'sghir cost about $700,000.00. And they're putting

in the other about say $400,000.00 to build it. I think it's g

be quite an elaborate structure.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: But those are some of the things that we've been working on.

I: -QIZ4 We might come.,W,-?. e'll probably come back and touch on those

again in a few minutes. A/; what, if anything, has prevented you from

doing a better job?

S: Repeat that again.

I: What, if anything, has prevented you from doing a better job?

S: Well.....

?: Especially in regard to benefitting f!j blacks.

S: Well, the only thing that I would say that has prevented me from doing a better

job has been thaty,' I say finance is one. Because 0 we had a limited

amount of funds to work from. And 4t maybe thes~,s only,.y, ie other

part would be that I have not known the other basic needs that lat, yA know/

wishes of the blacks. I mean they know the projects that we were working

on and they knew that they were being worked on for the /a all the citizens

and if I had not 4I worked according to their wishes it's been because that

they did not let ~tm be known. K I probably didn't mention the other.

Maybe I should say this too concerning the recreation. We started over here

with doing something for recreation. This was long before I decided to

run for office. And see of course now we have three areas that wejr. y

know concerning recreation. One area for Twin Hills, the other one is

Fairview Center, and the third one is j Dura Lee Park which is just


-23-








FB 40AB (tape A)


S: strictly a ball field. But Fairview was the first one to start work and

4Wzg 1V-1 the same civic club that I told you about that was," worked

with me in VlfVIX i worked in voter registration. We #M got together

and when the area was first flattb there were small section I would

say abouty, about an acre, set aside for a park.; And, c;p, ell this

is all- bl4 ?ey just,.-.-;V. know -.- -P how a developer does

and he didn't do anything but just y know put the park there, ya know

staked it off and left it and sold all of the lots around it to anyone

that he could sell the lots to trying to y know) develop the area. So,

we decided, and this was back in the early 50s, that we did not have

enough area for a park. So, we went to work and raised funds and

._,_s a __ around this park all the lots around that park

so that we'd have a large enough park to do some good. In other words,

the length of the park then extended two city blocks~re-o. from east

to west and about equally the distance from north to south which gave

usl y know, I'd say a fairly good area for a park. Then after this was

done, then we asked the city then toc,4e yd know put some money in it and

develop it. Wel naturally, they said which I ~tWO% I didn't understand

it then but I can understand it now. And there was an ordinance which

prevented them from putting any money in anything that was private so they

said deed it to the city and then the city can put some money into it. Well,

we deeded it to the city but the city was unwilling to put much money

in it. Little by little they would put a little bit of money in and this

was because of certain, I would sa certain campaign promises.
/


-24-








FB 40AB (tape A)


S: different ones a.drn~.-in. running for office and they would promise

that they wanted to do something for the park. So, little by little, they

would give us some funds and I think finally we were instrumental in

getting7 4ey. I believe we, -. I guess it was about $40.00 or $50.00

per month I believe it was. And 00 well we want to know] vq4 didn't know

what to do with the money at first but then we decided maybe the best thing

to do would be to build some type of structure and jAe if we could use

the funds to buy the materials that there were enough Ca~1R tfr around

in the area who had consented to give their labor. That we could put up/

yp know the structures. So, this we did andoe.V I think this building

was basically completed around 1963, 64. Something in that neighborhood.

IAK-.d.0r But this was the only building that the city had for indoor

recreation. In fact, it's still the only building that the city has-tfr

because we did not get the recreation building over at Twin Hills that

we had planned to put up there because the bid price came in too high

so we had to scratch it and wait awhile. But, this was one of the things

that I did tell them that we were going to do more in developing that park

and X, little by little it has been developed *n quite a bit. The

whole structure has been completIr remodeled and added on to and I think

it's in beta=rV-C yd know very good shape now. And 4i~o -.,other than

that park, I don't know of any basic thing that they have really wanted

over here that they haven't gotten.

I: O P. Would you look over this list and rate possibly how w-a4mss

each one of these items has effected your ability to -m.az; perform your

job? Ul whether these things have been very important, fairly important,

or not important in preventing you from if1p doing a better job?

S: Well, I won't say that it has prevented me from doing a better job. 4 %


-25-








FB 40AB (Tape A)


S: _of course now in the first case there's-r re..rsCross out. (seems to

be some confusion while no talking)

I: Here. Good ole4
S: pHowelrei l 01 you can't say that the office has no real authority

because it does have authority and that's real authority. Because

all of the basic1 t n fact, all of the laws that govern a city is

inactlby this body. Now in case of your second orc- vW,, o t=a

o0voted by white officials. It's true that.......
-7 1 A1
I: O-.ag it says preventing you from-i -ag



S: Oh. Now this second one, it's true that I could be outvoted by the whites

but I don't think that there has been a time yet which hZ,, hat's

something that I proposed, that I have been outvotedand it's been denied.

It's always ,I"r I mean I've always had time to think through it and

decided this is important and 19 whenever I present it I've been able

to convince at least the majority of them to see that it is important,

that it has been able to work out in every case. So, I would say that

this is not important because I have not been outvoted. Now I stated this

one that revenue has been short and so1 V-ay imat do I do, 'I over here
/ /
very important?

I: Yes, if that......

S: That has been the basic factor. We would ha4 a lot more things going

if we had had more revenue. 't this one is not important because L a'-

r__ _ f o r m e w i t h a d m i n i s t r a t i v e d u t i e s t h a t g o e s w i t h ~i. s g 7 4 $

we have jCsa, maybe I should make this statement. In the past up until

we were elected, each councilman I think this is one of the questions
rJ,


-26-









FB 40AB (Tape A)


S: maybe you asked earlier too 0,8 each councilman had a certain responsibility.

That is, maybe he was respodible for seeing that streets are
right or seeing that H^OyPc ; sanitation part of the city is being held

right or something. But we did not think that the councilman should have

that basic responsibility because we were all),1Iet me say well) ~'

.; -. the position itself does not provide the personnel for .,, y know/

with livelihoodod. It's more or less an honorary thing because you have
A
to maintain your regular method of income.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: So, we decided that it would be better if we had one person who would be)41

who would run the cityrf since the charter did not call for a city manager,

that we could use a person which we referred to as being the superintendent

of public works and tl he would be responsible for seeing that all these

things are done and he would be 4-.., answer only to the council. So,

(4Wwe put this person in charge and whenever he had problems then he
G-
would come to the council with his problems. Or is we1.t,. something that

wasn't going right then we would call him in and discuss it with him rather
o\A
than each councilor had to go around and supervise a a;,,yj know a group

of men. With onet.-, Ya know one person being the foreman and the councilor

he has to go around and supervise the men to see that they are doing their

job and the fact that we didn't think that this was the best thing to do,

so we changed from that concept to the present concept that we have.

I: Mmm hmm. How aboutot lack of cooperation from whites?

S: i, now this, pLrA I've gotten good cooperation. In fact, I think that

my cooperation from the whites have been equally as gooc.)in fact, in many


-27-







FB 40AB (tape A)


S: instances, I would say it's been better than it has been from the

blacks. And I think the reason for it has been not thatrJ when I say

the reason for it has been that they jA~ have been morerv, I say ,-a

I don't wanra use the term outspoken but itAof ,more willing to come

and say "Look, I have this problem". And Q yf know I want something

done or what can be done about this problem. They will do this before

the problem becomes y/ know out of hand. But in most cases the blacks

wait until things are about out of hand before theycom Give you

an example; dfi we still have some 41 dirt streets around the city and

some of them are on hillside and when it rain naturally, y/ know, being

used deterioration or corrosion is going,41., erosion rather, is going

to take place and they would wait until the street is about to wash away

before they say anything. I got a call about a year ago. Yes, I think

last spring. A very close friend of mine. Water went down the street,

then it got recent embankment because somebe4y-bad built up an embankment

and then the water turned and went under his house and had almost th

washed the foundation from under his house before he said anything y/ know/

about it. And all he had to do was come and say "Look, I'm having a

water problem. I need something don"j9 And naturally we would've told....

had the superintendent to check it out and.<~t work on it. But his house

was.... When I was told about it and I went and checked on it, he had

to put jacks under his house to hold it up and keep it there. See now,

fatsrK, what I'm saying, this is the type of thing that sometime you

face but now in most of the cases of the whites, they will ~-S ty*35' %

say something long before that time. So, I would say 4,wI mean the
I


-28-









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: cooperation has been real good as far as the whites are concerned. Of

course we took care of this problem and~ we took care of it in the

next days but I 4v.and he was feeling ,4 y/ know he felt real

proud of it afterwards. He just didn't say anything and if)v I don't

know how long it had been happening, it could've been happening for

three or four weeks or three or four months.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: But he never said anything about it so we couldn't do anything because in

a city you just can't goo'I4 get over the whole city and see everything

that's happening a; just by traveling around. You expect the citizens

to call. Of coursethey didn't have to call me, they could just call the

superintendent of public works and he would've gone out and checked it and

would have something done immediately. But in this particular case he

couldn't w'fI spend the necessary funds because it costs more than'td normal

so he had to get council approval. But I think it was ga cost about

four or five thousand dollars to take care of it because they had to put

in drainage pipe and they had to run it about Cs-,say) 150 or d0-w^

200 feet in order to take care of the water problem. And -t- with that,

it's gonna cost more than he could've esaiwmited and spent out of his budget

without council approval.

I: How about lack of cooperation from blacks?

S: Well, I think I've already mentioned that but I'm genea check that as being

fairly important for the simple reason that there are some who do. I__see

Jeff 4. l think we have two-phaees of t~, blacks. One who will sit

down and wait until there is no return and then he will .


-29-









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: Then you have the others whor '.1~ ) 'will like the whites, that they

will come forward and let you know that there's a problem immediately.

Now it may be that there are some whites who sit back too and never

say anything. But these people I think I've very seldom have a chance

to meet because probably by the time that they come forward somebody

else has already recognized it. 0l something's being done about the

problem so I may not ever know who that person is.

I: Do you think the problem may be that S r there are some people that

just don't understand how to use government? That the government is for

their benefit and they don't1 .4-i it's somebody else they don't identify

with?

S: l.Ui I think that probably is the basic reason,that they do not know the

functions that their government and they do not know how to go and get the

things that they need, -%D I think that c--c. p s from their government.

I think this is the basic factor because y I mean every so often,

a person may call and he has something that can be taken care of at city

hall and merely by going in and telling the clerk what his problem is and

it's taken care of immediately. Then he would call me and maybe leave

word with my wife to maybe call him back or doesn't want to tell ksm what

it is so he'll wait two or three days and call me back again and then I),iv

when I find out what it is I'll say all you need to do is just go down to

city hall and.A,7 -?,e G.sqsZ.p ~tss.. tell hkr what your problem is and we'll

take care of it immediately. And he goes and in ten minutes it's all

taken care of. So, I think it's a lack of understanding of how the

government functions and how to use it.


-30-









FB 40AB (tape A)


I: How about black cooperation from state officials? W~fed that htae-been

a problem?

S: J$,'V:,/I'm gonna list this as fairly important. Well I don't know, f

.'::. e havy t had any problem with the state officials. ',-- no,

we hadn't had any basic)- i4-tt now, it may be that some things that

we should've gone to the state for that we didn't and -S~my it's

kind hard to o*" I'm gonna 44t I'll have rate this in between. -kt'--

It's important but it's not very important and so I'll have to rate it

along this line. And the same thing with the federal officials. O .a .

pS ,h(;t I think the main part there may be 4 there are some things

that we do not fully understand and the procedure that would be to

.go through. Of course, now I will say this, I think there are many instances

that ,yiv well, state and federal, that there is a little too much paper

work involved in some of the things that have to be done. I think that

many times that a job could be as effective if two-thirdSof the paper work

were eliminated. We have been trying to work on some 2~ grants, state

grants and federal grants. When you get through with the paper work and

AN there's so much to be done on it until it takes a person sometime with

a doctorate degree to understand what they're talking about. And then,

I thinkN 4b sometime that they don't understand it because we have had

people who are supposed to be state people and asked them questions concerning

certain things and they havety-iV'i I say in a.44t in a sense that

they're giving us to something A- o-- run-around because they didn't

fully really understand what they're supposed to be doing themselves. And

we've all ,.g"a though they've flown us all the way to Atlanta to rft-_.


-31-









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: federal grants and) e,f I think that the trip was unnecessary and uncalled

for. We should've been able to send in 4h% normal forms and have been

taken care but it seemed like somewhere down the line that there's a lack

of understanding of the,,., we are not communicating or something to

each other. So, I would say it's not fi it is important but i~"'0 it

would not rate the --y.. this category's 4 not this category.

I: 5i0 has criticism or lack of support from the black community <4% hindered

you in holding office or did some blacks in the community consider you

perhaps as just a token and not......

S: Well, I don't think that this has been the case. I can't recall any particular

instance whereo6.g I.t" t this has happened. I don't recall anytime where

there have been adverse criticism other than .k-,Uhj which is a common

thing, if you want something done and it is done immediately for you, you

have a tendency to criticize the whole establishment because you can't

get what you want at the time when you want it. But once you understand

how things work then uh, you find that you -uv-yo rrvcegos get what

you want but it can't be handed to you the moment you walk up and say

__ \ __ _ So, criticism dV has not in any way hindered things

that I VM~4 .- -k/c

I: (Ute do you feel that the white officials that you deal with and come in

contact treat you any differently than they would say another white official?

S: 4ti there are times andl-, that..e you get this feeling, that this may

happen but it's not often. It's, f-/I4S very seldom. Now the other officials,, -

tou meant ,4 tow when you said officials, now you meant like county officials

or........


I


-32-









FB 40AB (tape A)


I: Well is there a difference? Could you make a distinction?

S: Between......

I: Well,, 9~. Let's say first of all, the city officials who do it.

S: Well/now the city officials, I don't think that there have been any difference.

I: W;M. How about the county officials?

S: But now the county officials, I think that sometimes when you get to know

them, you'll say wellI they have not made a basic difference. But yf know

_ut'..ti? -A being the only black, sometime maybe I get a little bit more

eager than I should in ", wanting something done. And also think that

if I make a request that they should be stop,,-s.",.everything should

stop and it should be acted upon immediately too. It may be that I think

this way sometime? But 4f what I was about to say first was once you

get to know them then 4if you find out that they really do not make a

difference. That they are still doing what they can do and what they

would've done if they didn't know you at all. So, I don't think it in

essence, really make a difference.

I: Now, some of these questions may seem to be a bit redundantso, if they

are we don't want to take up more of your time. We appreciate you taking

time so, if some of these questions sound like we're asking the same

question then,.: Ad'u just say so and say that ayv-ry, explain that

you've already covered it and we'll move on. A, what services have you

provided for blacks in your district that they would not had-before you

took office?

S: as I stated, that we have Ai improved the 4W; park and it has not been

a .r.. strict? say i -tis has been provided for blacks. It's been


-33-









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: provided for the entire city because any facility or resources that are

in the city is for every citizen. fG sod-i.J I have never, just say,

worked specifically to provide something for blacks and 4ihf not have the

other citizens in mind. tA I did fA make a S:. made.-.-.: I made a

request to the council to !h improve, as I pointed out for Fairview, this

recreation facility improved at more than they hadly knowlimproved it.

And see, back early X.S-. first ,uh~:... )Wen we first took office, we first

wanted to put some recreational facilities that would be centrallylocated

for all the citizens and this is why Twin Hills was selected. Then after

Twin Hills was completed then we say that we would go into the immediate

communities and 1W work on facilities in those communities next. And well,

at one point I thought that they were/.. (.eUtl, I should saythat we were

moving a little bit too slow towards,~4 developing Fairview Community

Center. And I made certain requests yl know to council. Naturally, I

ran into a little opposition but it wasn't great opposition. I had the

majority of the council / 44. 4xeS'e^ Who were with me and uif' they

saw the need for it. And 4~, some funds were appropriated to do some,

to do the initial work. There's still some work to be done which should

come up in this budget year providing that we have funds available to

spend. )~{ the last two years the funds have been rather short so, east k-i

only Ut )see maybe say twenty, twenty-five, $30,000.00 to spend on any

one facility. YA know, that is for the upgrading of it and I think this

has been done.

I: M1S I guess we have these ateas d<& itemized here. Could you rate #q.y4.,ehg.

how effective you feel you've been in each one of these areas? I know

you talked about some of them in depth.


-34-









FB 40AB(Tape A)


S: Afight, now on the police protection l .
something that the way the council is set up, it gives the responsibility

for police protection as the responsibility of the mayor and,4fy he takes

care of the police. In other words, all requests and anything that comes

in if it doesn't go by record to the chief of police, then it goes to

the mayor. So, then the council has to work through the mayor. And Aj;

the things that we have attempted to do in terms of it, I think have been/

404A/I I wouldn't say very effective but I would say have been somewhat

effective, along those lines. Now, in),r streets and roads, as I stated,

I think that this part as far as finances would go, have been very effective.

Now in the housing, the city has not been, 4 involved in any housing. We

do have a housing authority that has.been setup by the Sydney Charter, that

is b.y it's federal housing project. But JiJ the city does not have

anything to do with this operation. But kh we have worked with the

authority very closely and #ht we've gotten good results from it. So, I

would list this as saying not effective. Because we don't have anything

to do with it. And the same thing as welfare. Now when you say welfare,

what do you have reference? Maybe I should ask that question.

I: Um......

S: You mean like the state welfare?

I: t.y.'N Yes.. It's / ,ADy/t probably doesn't... doesn't touch you directly.

S: Right. That's what I was saying. So, should I leave it blank?

I: Yeah, yeah leave it blank.

S: Now, employment. We've only been caang~ed with the employment of the city

and "A I'm gei say that this has been somewhat As-effective. And the

reason I used the term somewhat effective and I wouldn't list it as being


-35-








FB 40AB(Tape A)


S: very effective because ..y I have tried to get people to4 apply

for city employment. Most of the time that they have not seen fit to do

so. And of course until very recently I had several people to come tell

me that they wanted to work for the city. But at the time when they came

all the slots had been filled. And I told them then, I said Iell the only

thing you can do is fill out an application and have it on file and if there

is a vacancy comes then you'll be considered unless it's not in line of what

you put on your application.' But for five or six years there has not been

one person who has-filed an application to work on the street department and

the water and sewers or garbage or anything of those things. I have tried

to even get some of them to work in the fire department. Haven't been able

to get one to sign up as a fireman. So.....

I: Why is that?

S: I don't know. This I don't know.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: But, I asked this question overt "Why you don't want it". -'gS e,, I think

the pay is about equally the same that they would drive twenty-five, thirty

miles, or forty miles all the way down to Fort Walton. We had people working

in Fort Walton in the garbage department. Aindt9 f6,hey-c."4 drive from

Crestview down there to go to work daily but they wouldn't apply for work

at the garbage department here in Crestview. So, this^4, I don't know

why. Anddl each superintendent that we've had 43 come to me all the time

and say "I'm short of two men and A044 can you get somebody to come in and

apply for workj He say "I can put em to work tomorrow". And I asked different

ones and tell different ones in the community. Said A ya knowlanybody

who needs some work that would like to work in the city or for the city,

to go down and fill out an application and they never get one. So, under


-36-









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: the employment, I'd say it hadn't been that effective. Parks and recreation,

v '. ,I think I've answered that one already. Now, I'm notp 2a say this

has been as effective as I would like to see it because it has not been.

There are stillfs4,k, s I pointed out, there are still pockets and areas in

which t0f we need larger water lines. 4W of course now as far as the

garbage is concerned, we do take care of the garbage. But J every so often

with the money shortage, we 4, may have a problem with A, one of the trucks.

Yd know not being able to make it's run on time sometime. But other than that,.,

,zi.~s:~y Now health and the hospitals, we don't have anything to do with them.

Education, we don't have anything to do with that. And as I pointed out,

the mayor takes care of the fire department also.

I: Mmm hmm. Have you v been able to obtain federal funds for your district?

S: Lh in what respect now?
4-
I: Wr do you feel as a city councilman that you have been influential in

obtaining federal funds for, /.' .- o whatever purpose?

S: Well, working with the other councilors, I would say jointly, I think that

we have been able to secure some, not enough. %j we would not have been

able to put in the water and sewer lines if it had not been for the federal

funds that were coming in.

I: These are t, grants or loans?

S: Jt grants.

I: Grants. And i'h, about how large were the grants '5.

S: Wf9 for the sewers, I think that it was tf t ell, water sewerse-aeby

I think that...... Let's see, what was it? Probably around 450, 500,000,

something in that neighborhood. We had 41), we issued bonds for .-S. to get

the initial part and it ended up to be.t.Jq1 y/ know to help cover the city's


-37-







FB 40AB (tape A)


S: part. And if you recall, early the statej!.4i iot the state, the federal

government. I think it was only matching giving you about 33 or 30 per

cent or 33 per cent and -ih they found out that that wasn't enough and they

increased it twice since then. So, each time that they have increased it

d2f they found out that since& was one of the first grants that they issued

back in '39, '40 I don't mean '39, '40 14yh ; '69,'70. They have
found out that owed us some more money because they've increased it and so

I think one instance we received about $50,000.00 because of the increase

that they would now giving. I think another time we'll see something

in the neighborhood of 35 or 40,000 because of the increase that they were

giving.

I: as an elected official dl; have you been able to jrT been influential

at all in 4l bringing in industry or in the retail business?

S: No. We have been a little bit unsuccessful in it and /# the reason for

it the city and the charter kindt.-.,,,.l I guess sa fence

us in. Thl.i The way the charter is written, they) know when

the boundaries of the city .jt set up? Well, they have it.... They make

it very difficult for you to change those boundary lines. And I think

the reason for it may have been because certain big landholders held

a lot of this property and they're still holding on to it. And assa result,

they are not interested in,~^,o industry or like unless they are gonna get

^Vo\(S M _ make a killing off of themselves.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: And to even extend the city limits, it's been very difficult. And to We've

been working on trying to get land for an industrial park so that we could

bring in the industry. But we've been unable to get the land because ;the

landowners would not sell, they would rather deal directly with the industry.


-38-








FB 40AB (tape A)


S: And in dealing with the industry then the land is so high the industry

says\no, ia-not gonna pay that price for it. So, that's been our basic

holdup getting industry here.

I: Have you been able to see that 4 the blacks are hired fairly in the

local government?

S: Now, back to as I stated, since the city has only these departments as

I've mentioned and I can't get any blacks to A file an application,

there's been nothing that I could do in terms of whether or not that they

have been hired fairly or not.

I: Are there any blacks that work for.the city at all?

S: ftet at the present, I would say no. Now, in trims.p terms of~ /ell,

of course men can serve as clerks and all too but in the'bK, city clerks

office, the people who are employed there have been there and there 4meho"S

not been any turnover in the clerks office since I've been on the council.

So, there have not been any vacancies basically. Now in the water). .i/ell,

on the police p.f the police department there are two blacks that are

policemsnu. And o~E a s one of those were put on part-time since I've

been on the council and then he was elevated when they needed an additional
h
man A~p to full-time. 1ify the request was made by the mayor that Xe needed

an additional man and 0-, of course the ;aA naturally the question was,

"What's wrong with ____( part-time person? Can't you make him

full-time?" So he didn't say anything other than say he just needed an

additional man. So we told him just to make that part-time person a full-

time person. Then if he -G -Seei- &h still needs a part-time person

then trawe'll talk with him about it. So, he had asked for another part-time
or"
person. So, this is how the second was on. Now in the first one was, he's

been on there about ten years. So he was on the police force before I


-39-









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: ran for councilor. And I pointed out that you can't get anybody to file

an application for the fire department. See we always have person leaving

the fire department. And yf know ot files 'fill in the vacancies.

And the same applies to the other departments in the city.

I: Has )Y federal revenue sharing helped j Crestview?

S: I would say it has helped tremendously because if we didn't have federal

revenue sharing we wouldn't have been able to do some of the things that

we've been able to do such as eatan the street work 1,^ getting the

I cor'hnrJ equipment and a few other things that you definitely needed to aamewan the

work.

I: Have there been any p blAck protests, sit-ins, boycotts, riots of

any sort in Crestview in last ten years that you know of?

S: "Um there was one as far as I can recall. 'f, yes it /4y it wasn't very

much, just think a young lady thought that she had been mis.--,o,-h-treated
S '~~~-------^"
by one of the policepng/. And av they decided that they would have a

march downtown on Saturday afternoon. I think this happened on Friday

and they decided to march down oU Saturday. And but this was quickly tam,

cleared up and it was this fellow I think that the policeman had been a

little too eager to carry out his duties and the like. So, they all became

satisfied with the action taken. This is the only one that I know of.

I: What year was that? Do you remember?

S: yIf'I can't recall. .J..'.. Seemed like it was back in either '70 or '71.

I: Mmm hmm. Mmm hmm.

S: It's one of those two, I'm not exactly sure which one.

I: Were there any effects, long term effects of 1Z6'f this.-Ot---,, or did

it sort of blow over pretty quickly.


-40-









FB 40AB (tape A)


S: Oh yes, it blew over rather quickly. *, after the 4,) I think this happened

on a Friday and that march was that SaturdaY) and after that it was all over,

and it was, /~,Ahere was a ya know general discussion that the person involved

and the mayor.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: And 41j I think that same Saturday and it was all settled and that Vr C I(

was satisfied.

I: Was he just or........

S: Hmmm?

I: ____disciplined or just talked to or was that......?

S: Well now the extent of the discipline, I don't know. But rab'

whatever was done, the parties involved were satisfied.

I: 04. 8.. I hag 6 t\ ,4* Go ahead. 'Bh.,

we'd like to ask you some;// some general questions now about-3. what's

your opinion of the governor, -Rahn Askew and 09-, his attitudes or

policies towards blacks?

S: Well, fT: from what I have read......
.I


(End Tape A)









FB 40AB (tape B)


S: Anything that I could well say basically criticize him for. Of course
.'-*
naturally, no government official is gs do everything that any particular

person wants the way they want it done. Te.T. They're gFaa always

see where it should've been done a little different or some:r.-ne. But

basically-I think within his own way of doing things I think that he has

done a good job.

I: How about other state officials or state representatives?

S: ~ft those that I know 'lat.n and f I'm not too familiar with any except

the ones that are locally here. And I think that they have done their

job. I believe that in some instances it may be that they have been say,

somewhat pressured into doing some of the things that they have done.

Moreso than they have done, the things that they thought was the right

thing to do. And this is one of the things that I seems to g4h- like

Governor Askew is about. That I think that he follows his own e-. He

doesn't $-f' I'm sure that he gets advice but in the final analysis

that he takes that advice and he decides what is good and what is bad and

then use rfi, that part which is good and forget about that part which is bad.

I: Are you saying that tVp some perhaps are tE feel that they're forced to

do something that they'd rather not have done in taking action?

S: You mean some of the other wc,.officials?

I: Yeah.

S: Well at certain times I think that this is probably what has happened. Af
1%
y1 know sometime-you get involved in politics to the extent where you commit

yourself and make promises that you shouldn't have made and if you'd given

it a little more thought before you made the promise that you probably would've

reacted differently. That's what I had reference to.


-42-









FB 40AB (Tape B)


I: '-.r Do you think that winning and holding office has been......

S: Hmmmm?

I: Do you think that winning and holding office has been A s worth the

effort?

S: 0Tirnh, yes. .a I don't think that a person should run for an office just

to be an office holder. I think that he should have something that he 4,

has to offer first of all. And then he should have some goal in mind

that he is trying to reach, secondly. And /, to win that office and to

work towards that goal, I think that it was worth it.

I: rel, ,: a Have you any regrets from running for the office?

S: No. I don't have any regrets. 4 j Q I'm proud wath the fact that

I decided sitting in the same room -o C- day that I was gema run

for office. And decided to follow through with my decision.

I: How has 4 holding office, has it effected your social life or your

personal life or family life )>-ry-c v ?

S: -4 no it hasn't effected my family life. I think that my wife has been

able to understand k4, that there are times that I might be called at a

,,,yat a time that we probably planned something else that I would have

to cancel out because of my responsibility. A4but other than that I don't

think that it was effected anyway.

I: E we have just a very few other questions and then we should be able to

._____ just to ..sts t-ea-clarify and make sure I

understand, your elections are in September?

S: Yes.

I: Now they're on odd years instead of even years?

S: How's that?


-43-









FB 40AB (tape B)


I: They're on odd years instead of even years?

S: They're on odd years instead of even years, right.

I: -$o And what time fr f election is in September, when do you actually

assume office?

S: 0Hb November.
1l<^ ,
I: In November. 0'-.. U do you mind if I ask you how old you are?

S: ______________

I: O 3V ''iO M c

S: Fifty-three.

I: And your occupation?

S: Teacher.

I: You're a teacher. High school?

S: Junior high.

I: What'd you teach?

S: IMathematics.

I: And :... what's your educational.. id you graduate from college?

S: -t, yes. .U], finished at Florida A&M and masters from Wayne State, Detroit.

I: Do you-ase1fiB salary as the.w as the city councilman?

S: Yes. They give you ten dollars a month.

I: Ten dollars a month. That's better the".y, they give the guy I, De' o J.

He says he gets a dollar a year. (chuckle) )J-s-ze~-

S: t' I guess I should t*4 add the other part, that they do give you some

expense money too. f this is the way the charter is set up that you get

$10.00 per month and gr they give you expense money.

I: Is the expense money~,q4 substantial at all or is it......?


-44-








FB 40AB (tape B)


S: Well, it eeafrs up to $200.00 per .,,.-.pe month.

I: Per month. Is that generally. 4rA o you.^,, Do most councilmen generally

draw the maximum or 2 co 4o -'.

S: Yes. Well, when you get through doing all the things and moving around that

you probably end up spending maybe $250.00 some of the months and some

months may follow this order.

I: Yeah. were you active in the Civil Rights Movement between 1960 and 1966?

S: I've never been active in the Civil Rights Movement.

I: Have you ever been in NAACP or any similar organization?

S: Well now I'm a member of NAACP but I have not been active in their campaigns.

I: i do you belong t/g. e you a church member?

S: Yes.

I: Which church?

S: Lebanon Baptist. This is located in eLXtA Florida about nine

miles from here, northwest.

I: Do you hold any position in that church?

S: I'm 4V superintendent of the Sunday school and nursery, ;,- nursery board.

And also, I'm the chairman of the trustee board.

I: Are there any other community organizations or activities that you participate

in?

S: Ua yes. I'm a member of the ElIs Lodge in Fort Walton Beach and I'm also

member of two fraternities. Let's see, Beta 4 Phi which is social fraternity

and 40p Phi Delta Kappa which is the education efe-which you're probably

familiar with.

I: Mmm hmm. IFsT- Is the Elks Club t, is that an integrate group?

S: ti this one is not but it could be. .-, no one has seen fit to leave ours


-45-







FB 40AB (Tape B)


S: and join the other one ,and vice versa.

I: Right. ." 46 what was-.e,, hat is or was your father's occupation?

S: U]P he was a < farmer for awhile and he was a .< t he worked in the Gu ,

I guess you'd say it was4-,-tit was sort of a sawmill like. They made crates

and boxes for yl know shipping produce and things. And do you know of any

other uh, black elected officials in this area, in this region? Are you

familiar with any others?

fL: Jfrf, there's one down in Fort Walton, was elected two three years ago. His

name is Charlie Hymn. And agN there's one in Pensecola. Well, there were two.

Well, his name /g-s, the one that had reference to now is Hollice Williams. 14

I think this is his second term.

I: Uh huh.

S: Third term. He was first appointed to fill an unexpired term on the city council

there and then he ran and I think he ran twice and was elected both times.

And #iKA Walter Spence was .h he was elected to fill another city council

position in Pensecola. And I'm trying to think which one of these positions

did he) ,4 was he appointed to. I believe he was appointed to the school

board. Do you remember the uh'.7., one of the school board members I believe
/
was in Pens cola past r-? about a month or two months ago.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: And I think Governor Askew has appointed him to this unexpired term on the

school board. So, I don't know who is filling the position on the city

council. Now those are the only ones that I know of in this area.

I: His name was Spence you say?

S: Walter Spence.


-46-









FB 40AB (tape B)


I: Walter Spence.

S: Now wait a minute, wait a minute.now. His name is not Walter Spence. I do

know a Walter Spence and he's down in Nashville but his name isB-7 I know

Ships .-'.-, his name is Spence but I don't know what his first name is. I'm

not exactly sure. I know him well.

I: We'll be there tomorrow and we'll I5~.- we'ree gonna interview i Hollice

Williams.

S: Well then he would be able to tell ya the other one because he and Holli6e

were on the city council together.

I: K. Do you attend any regional meetings of black elected officials? Perhaps

in Atlanta or......?

S: t _yes, I attended one of the meetings in Atlanta, this was two years ago.

Yes, two years ago. 7F4 I had planned to attend the one in New Orleans. f,

rniat-be this year, but it seems that their meetings are .. always interfere

with some of the other things that I've already committed myself to so

I haY't been able to ... y/ know get away to go. Yy see it's/ -4 being in

the teaching profession, it's a little bit difficult to just get away anytime

that you want to go. See I usually try to go to the t43 legal cities meeting.

I: Mmm hmm.

S: And bg well they let me go for it. And I am on the,.* community college

board of trustees for O scS'- Gri,-> Junior College and I usually try

to make their meeting in October.

I: Mmmm hmmm.

S: And get when I get through going to those two meetings and then my education

meetings/I feel a little bit out of place going back and asking the superintendent

to let me go to some of the other things y know unless they were coming on
t


-47-




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