VB 42 A 1 Mayhew
SUBJECT; Nathaniel Vereen
PArj3 .A^v3 1Ja75
; ....-eP determine how-well the&-Voting fights Act of 1965 has
worked. -hat year did you first register to vote in?
V I IXM registered to vote in 1950, I believe.
I: And what year were you first eligible to register?
V: Uh, well, I went to, I went into the service in '43...
I: Mm hm.
V: ...,/t the age of 19. Then I got out of the service in the year '40,
t40, uh, '45...no, it was '46 when I got out. Got a
I1 Mm hm.
V; And, uh, I went to school at Savannah State in June of 1946. Then I
graduated in '49, worked up in the state of Georgia from, for one
year. Then I started work in Orang County in '50. So when I first
came to Orange County, I registered. I did not have any difficulty
in registering at all in Orange County. But I do know in the, in the
state of, state of Georgia where I was working that the, in the
black community there, Douglas, Georgia, if you were, if the power
structure had influence over you, they would encourage you to vote. Butif
they didn't have influence over you, though, they didn't encourage
you to vote, I mean to register, I'm sorry.
I:: Mm han.
V; I meant register rather than vote. So you see( I'm just giving
you a little Background so you uh, just, uh-
1I You anticipated my next question ,,as well, as to the difficulty.
V: Right, yeah.
f9 4Z A
SUBJECT: Nathaniel /yereen
DATE: Aug, 3, 1975
Have voter registration drives Been held in Eatonville?
Uh, yes and no. uh, we have during election time normally we somewhat
put on somewhat of a personaltype effort, to get people registered.
But so far as a drive, per se, we h&ve not put one on as yet. Now
we do have in the making a personal, an effort to get people out to
register, I: think sometime in September. And I things this will be
the first sort of an ,pin organized procedure that we've used
to get people to register.
Um, these so-called voter registration drives that you have on a
personal Basis Before elections, how successful are they, usually?
Well, we, we uh, we think that they've been maybe, let's say on a
rating scale of, average...
have you been,
WTit percent of the populationAof the eligible population have you
been able to get registered?
Well I think that we, about 75-80% of the eligible people in Eatonville,
we've been able to get them, uh, get them registered.
And these are held every year,\as a rule?
Yes, right ejr- gcr Some party or another ought to encourage
certain people to get down there and get, really get, uh, registered.
Can you think of any factors which might prevent people in you dis-
trict in Eatonville from registering?
Uh, no, we, I: don't know of any factor in the town of Eatonville.
We encourage it.
^42A 3 Mayhew
SUBJECT: Nathaniel -'Vereen
DATE: Aug. 3, 1975
~'; U, XZKX we have a, a, actually a, we go around during this partic-
ular time and encourage everyone to get down and get/registered,
regardless of, I do know that I have some workers that get out and
get the people and, we try to get them registered, and, and the em-
phasis is on getting them registered, and once we get them on the
Book then, we try to gety to influence them then to vote a particular
way, but normally the emphasis has been just on registering.
S Qkay. I have a list here of some factors which in other cities and
other -parts of the country have been found to impede other, er,
impede people, prevent people from registering. Uh, would you rate
each of these as to its importance in Eatonville? Uh, I understand
in the first one, economic dependence on whites, well, there are
no whites in Eatonville. I understand many of the people do work out
of the town, is that correct?
V: Yes, uh huh, yes, quite a lot.
I: Would this come into play at all in voter registration here?
V: Urn, I don't see.where it, the economic dependence on.whites would
KRwKX play any factor in registering in Eatonville. Uh, I I
think that might somewhat help Because of the exposure in the white
community on issues, and the whites trying to get them to register
and vote on, you know, national issues that affect all of us, you
know, county-wide, and also uh, state and,.national. It-might help
to some extent, some some influence in a fairly important or maybe
a'tigt rate that 7' 1 iA 4-re _
FB 42 A 4 Mayhew
SUBJECT: Nathaniel .yereen
DATE: Aug. 3, 1975
I: Okay. Iat about the fear of physical violence?
VP ;ear of physical violence from whites? I don think this would have
any effect on that at all. We never bad any, any type of..
I: Okay, what about complicated registration forms?
": Oh, this ,I don't think has, has.any, any.Bearing in this, the fear
might Be from just a psychological, personal point of view that
they, don't want people to know that mayBe.they can't read, or read
or write, or something like that. But so far there hasn't been any
and W r- i S+ --rr; -5
Barrier there, so, to getting en rati-ng!-tis, I don't think this
plays any factor at all.
!?. Okay. Registration hours,, poor registration..,
!: poor registration hours? My' judgment-I-I think that this might have
some effect on it, uh, and it does have some degree on the, on the
uh, on preventing blacks from, from registering, Although we have
put on drives to get people KH registerered beyond the 5:00 deadline,
and this has been very successful. Sometimes I can/remember trying
to build up on our registration numbers. We did ask that the books
be open from after 5:00. And at one time we did use our own regis-
tration books, or registration lists. And uh, it was not until, uh,
!rit Ce we had our own registration that year that I first went
into office. And we used our registration lists-must have been
about t65 when we went over to the county, using the county's regis-
tration list. Or it may have been as late as '67...it was, it was
'657'' V44 We, we tarted using the county's registration then.
I: fmUm hm.
F. 42A 5 Mayhew
SUBJECT: Nathaniel, ereen
DATE: Aug. 3, 1975
V: And--But up until that time, -- '63' when I LJ' o i. D l- --~ e
we had our own registration. And we did let the books be open
until, Ilmean, up until then, the time of registering, it was, people
could register, the Books were open at a certain time preceding the
: Th~at -was every year/ from, of the first Saturday in March. And uka boL6. .
There was a period in there about 15 days, that, when the books would
be open. And uh, they could not register up until then, until they
was open, t that particular time. And at the end of that particular
time,limited hours there, they could, uh, we had the books set up
thee in the grocery store. And then uh, we let the clerk be in the
office from 5-8, and uh, ... d then when we went to the county's,
in '67 we went to using the county's registration-list, then we
threw out a lot of people that were registered here in Eatonville.
But there again, we got them to uh let them register out here.
I: Since the cou--since JlM started using the county books, have you
had.nighttime/hours for people to register who work all day?
V: No, we have.f vtO,,
I: Since 1967?
V/ Right, we have not had them.
I: Okay. What about registration not being held often enough?
V: What, this has definitely ; affected here, and I think I may &'-4-G
oY rve c C A'v another question.
IB Okay, what about the. indifference of blacks, or -ae indifference of
FB, 42 A 6 Mayhew
SUBJECT; Nathaniel Vereen
DATE; Aug. 3, 1975
the people in general in thi's case, to voting?
T: Yeahf th-is definitely plays a part. ou have so many people that,
that are apathetic when it comes down to wanting to get involved.
They are simply ,- do what they want to do anyway.
They'have this act of indifference du.ei g/voting, and then during
local and national elections. And uh, we, a number of times we try
to sit down, talk to people...and uh, people believe in you, they
just don't want to get out and vote. And I've been able to influence
a number of people to get out and register, because it does make a
difference. And we find out that some of them have this fear of
the7voting -machine. They didn't, they thought it was much more
complicated than what iti~r
Y:; 40ihere I could get them to come into the town hall and register,
I, could not get them to go down to Dixie Barber r ej- r~ rs
I: Okay. How often is re-registration required here, by the way?
V: Well, as long as, I think the law is set up just like for the county,
here is, let me follow the county regulations.
I: m htm.
V: I' knew you'd like to say we used their --
V: -if uh, if, as long as you vote and maintain a record there, then
you don't have to, but I' think if you don't vote in, I think it's
around two years, ITm not--well, whatever the county regulations
are govern 't .4
I0 Uh huh.
P. 42 A 7 Mayhew
St aiECT Rthaniel 4yepreen
DATE: Aug. 3, 19757
I: The next group of questions I: have here are used to gather information
on the election campaigns of Black.elected officials. Uh, were you
able to campaign freely in each of your--how many times have you
run for the office?
,V: UTh,k've run about 7 times.
I': Kave you ever lost?
V: So far I haven't,
V: We, we, let me put that back here. Let me move it back.
V: I first ran for office in 1958.
I: 9n hm.
V: I ran for ity councilman and I won.
I: Mm hm.
V: Then I ran in 1960 for mayor, and I lost. And uh, I had given up a
all aspirations then for any political office. And then again, I
ran for mayor again in 1963,
1: '63? THe elections for mayor are every 3 years?
V: No, no, every 2 years.
I: I see. So you ran in '62 then.
V: No. I didn't, I didn't run in ' .ty--I ran in, in '60 and-
I: And lost.
V: And I just didn't even bother ........ ..... In 1963 there
was a -ow~w r /little hes itancy on.the person that lost the elec-
tions to get out of office. So they,
, 42. A 8 Mayhew
SUZJECT: Nathaniel "yereen
DATE: Aug. 3, 1975
:V; ,'pulls him. They' carried it into a lawsuit.
1: At that point you came into office?
yt uh, well, it was during that particular episode that I ended up
running for office, as a compromise candidate. The two candidates
that, the candidate that won and the incumbent that lost did not
want to, uh, the incumbent did not want to get out of office. So
I was in, he. citizens didn't want to accept the winning candidate,
the majority of them; so they said that they would accept a compromise
and they wanted me to run. So instead of the person that--yeah, oh
yeah, the person that lost did not run.
I: min, he didn't run!
V: He didn't re-run, right. 1 was the compromise candidate, so he gave
up. And my*',
I': How did he maintain the office, how did he stay in the office if
he'd been voted out?
V: Uh, well, the council supported him in the, in the charges that
there were irregularities in-^,,
I: In the elections?
V: t Ain the election, and according to the Eatonville, uh, little book-
let that they had at that time, uh, it was
and this was the thing, and this was what they based
it on. Oo instead of the, when they carried it into court, the fel-
low that lost, well they decided to ask.for a compromise condition.
I: I3 see.
7: This is what the courts went along with.
I: In all of your elections, were you able to campaign freely? Did you
FR 42A 9 Mayhew
SUSABFT: Nathaniel Vereen.
DATE:: Aug. 3, 1975
ever have any harassment of threats?
V: No, I: don't remember.
IV: Never had anything JM.
: WWere you handicapped by a lack of campaign money at any point along
IV: i1, in Eatonville it's a little unique in that, so far as campaign
funds are concerned, we never have had that much money. Uh,
assuming that a normal election around here would cost about, getting
out and posters and this type of thing.od
I: Vm hm/,
IV: de-ad when I first ran for office a number of citizens involved
would say, "Well, listen we'll do this for you," and uLt,
And so far as any radio time, or even the newspaper would carry your,
would carry your platform or something, and other than that, in
Eatonville it's XINNYK been/more or less/one-to-one type thing.
community, you just about know ...
I: There are some incidentals, or something like that. How much
roughly do the incidentals add up to? In your first election,
say, roughly how much? The first one/that you won, the compromise
T?' I- think mayBe about $30./
. And then the second regular election?
V: Something like that, they usually run like that, for some publicatpns
I: In your last election what were. your !campaign expenses?
FB. 42 A 10 Mayhew
SUBJECT: Nathaniel .yereen.
DATE: Aug. 3, 1975
IV; M .... Jasically' the expenses were, uh, Basically, as far as the, we
served a B~arBeque and I think. everybody just chipped in. W fur-
nished different things, and kept the funds an~ +Aind down.
I, Hbwo-much do you think the BarBeqe. cost? ... What we're trying
to get is the general assessment.-.
V: Right yeah I think--
,T 1,of what you spent totally.
I:; IayBe=-must have been about $150, or something like that.
I: So your total campaign/'for the last campaign were--rough estimate.
V: Let's see... less than $200.
I: Okay. Uh, why did you decide to run for office? The first time.
V: The first time?
I: Yeah, the one you lost in.
Vf The first I was, successfully ran, you know, for council member.
I: Yeah, for council.
V: Urn, well, I've always had a feel for the community in which I live,
and uh, I went in as a volunteer fireman, representing the, uh, wanting
to do something forithe community and not having any aspirations at
all for any political calling, just a volunteer fireman.
It Mm hm.
V: And uh,. was one of the first volunteer firemen in the community.
And the commissioners, uhi, we, we were always/requesting things from
the county', fro the city commissioners, uh, council men. They didn't
appear tjse too, too willing to give us any funds. And uh, the fire-
'men felt that if they had a representative on the board, then they
would have somebody on the foard that they could rely on to fight
-B 42. A 11 Mayhew
.UWWCT;- NNathaniel eyeseen',
DATE: Aug. 3, 1975-
their cause:and feed their cause hefo're, Before the commissioners.
UM, h-efore I got on the Board, we got involved into the project of
Wdiding a volunteer fire, Building a fire departmenibuilding.
The city was interested then, in giving XXIXNIXZMIK XEpHKXP
KXEMIieX2HXpS KXfKB3eXXRX2HX us the land. So we solicited funds,
and that's how we got our first fire house--ire station./ This
me in running the first time.
IO Okay. Uh, in later elections then, your reasons for running.
:V; 1y reasons for? As a result of getting involved into it, then I
became interested in my community., Uh, we uh, thank the... I had
a, I was in the teaching profession/at that time ... and people we ie
they were reading in pa,--'in the piy-o
always getting on me about things they/ about my community.
"emBesaid, "Boyl Why do you let your mayor do this type of thin g?"
And I asked one fellow in Orlando there who is an old, real old-time
teacher. And every time he would see me, he'd always be punching
after me, you know. Why, he's such a, he'd make it 3K his business
to see me at the meeting. Sort of, you might call it, make funjtype 0O
thing on the community. And uh, sort of annoyed me, too, and he
really had some points,' type of publicity we were getting. And I
uh, I figured we deserved a little better publicity than that, so...
IT Who was giving you this, which paper was it that was giving you this
:; Sentinel, Sfrn-*Tf e Sentinel.
I: Uh, which party do you belong to, you belong to a political party?
V: Ites, I'V, Democratic party.
I: Okay. What were the two or three most important issues on which you
p, 42 A 12 Mayhew
SUKTECT: Nthaniel /yeeen.
DATEK Aug, 3, 1975
CAAPIGN'ED, SAY,, ON YOUR, TR YW 1R COkIoER caiagn, well, on the
first council campaign what were the Big issues there?
then, during were
V: The rig issues IDE that particular time I1MI the police department,
improved fire department, and uh recreation, no I didn't know when
recreation ...But uh, organization of the town government. I ran on
12e organization, improved fire department and police department,
and I think this was, these were the, were the issues.
I: Okay, in later campaigns how did the issues change, were there new
issues '_o'n iJ; A ?
V: es, uh huh. later years, uh, the issues became streets,
same-ppolice department. The police department is usually, has always
been an issue up until about two or three years ago. I were able
to organize an efficient police department. Bt up until that time
were M &
people tiK always asking why we can't get ahold of police when we
want him. We did not have #h, type of communications we have now,
24-hour communication between the station here and the police depart-
ment, ,4n, .,/1 Uh, sewer, water/ sewage has been the issues
in the last campaign.
I: Have there been any other/ issues, say, welfare or social service
V: N't as such in Eatonyille. We, the social programs arehe closest
hass een ......... ..
thing coming to this has Been(recreation. ''.. -
I': Okay, do you, do you think these issues were the biggest problems
facing the community?
V: Uh, I IT-really don't, personally I: don't think thl biggest issues
facing our town has ever been these issues.
FK. 42. A, 13 Mayhew
Sj.EGCTi. Nathaniel lyeeen
DATr: Aug 3,119757
I: We1ll what do you thlnR are theJ'iggest issues the biggest problems?
IV: I think the biggest problem in Eatonville has always been under-
standing, ul, understanding its government and an education of .the.
citizens toward how its government works, their role into government,
and the limitations of a person in office here in Eatonville, so far
as the finances of the town. r mflore~Sr tend toward the attitude
of the citizens. If someone, if the water is, goes off in Eatonville
now, you know who they going to call? They going to call me. And uh,
if they should come up somebody get arrested, something along like
that, they going to call me. They expect me to, just because of the
S that they may have voted--I don' t know how they
yoted. Some I do know may have voted and some may not. All of them
think that the mayor is the government, government in Eatonville
is Based, centered around the mayor. So that's what I think. I say
some education offhow the government works, and the role, and the
limitations of it. A lot of think that just because --f-A
The lavish taxes in Eatonwille
would climb maybe about, half/acre would average less than $50 per
house. I think I'm going to get it, I'm going to get an average
of this, iMK of whether ---- financial costs exist or how.
They say,'"Rell, I paid Pverrime in Eaton-- pay taxes
in Eatonville.'" They think that just because they've paid me before
Th' they're fit to !borrow'so )The se- c -eaws -. geS e^.aa
I: II see.
V;: ou ee-.whatimean? This has really been the type problem that we're
F 42- A 14 !ayhew
SUBFECT: Nathaniel -yereen
DATE: AUg. 3, 1975
I; DOkay, we h~ye a few. questions, then, on the conditions which have
enabled *lacks to win office in Florida. Voting here, elections
are at large ot By, broken up into small districts, correct? Kow
a many people roughly are in the district, just people in general?
V; Are you talking about--now when you say district,/what do you mean?
Eatonville, who -ote in Eatonville city-in district.here we're
talking about Eatonville city elections, whoever is eligible to vote,
or in this case, we're including all the kids-the pop-, what's the
population of Eetonville?
Y: Eatonville is about 2180-population of Eatonville,
.: We have somewhere around Between 7/ and 800 registered, registered
I: Okay. And all the people here are black, correct?
V: 99 and 9/10ths percent. We do have maybe one, two, three-we have
uh, we expanded our city limits to the west. WTe took in one family.
I think thel is a mixed couple that's living, tKEl recently moved
here, and there was a white couple that live here. I think they Z-
OQv4G v10 o .
I: Okay. What percentage of those who are registered to vote do you
estimate have actually voted when you were elected, not necessarily\
Ifor you but just in the elections that you were elected ing, uh, the
first time, say, when you ran for councilman first.
T: T'd say always would run about, during that particular time, it ran
about .. in that particular time I would say at least 80-90%.
I-: Okay, as we get into *,
FB 42, A 15 Mayhew
S1JBECT: ~hathniel cyereen
DATE. Apg. 3, 1975
,V; /the first time.
1: bbtokay, a -we get into the '`t60s, -uh, in ',64 there was election,
7V: Yeah, we uh, we had an election every year in Eatonville.
I: 0I- Certain terms; are-the terms are staggered?
V: Yeah, okay, now -- the even years we have mayor, two councilman
V; Okays the odd years we have 3 councilmen,/so we have 3 and 3 every
I: Okay, so in '64 there was an election for mayor.
I: So how, what percent-at which. point you were running?
Tv: 'Mm mn.
I; So what percent age again, was it still up around 80 or 90% ?
I: Yes, uh huh, still up 80 90%.
I: When did it start to go down and how far down it go?
V: Well, during my whole / times in, you know, runnig,g the last time
I--first time I didn't have any opposition at all, uh, it may have
come down to at least aSout 80%, hut it's never been below 80 uh,
it's- neverelov 80. Usually during the, the mayor-I feel like I'm
saying, see-the years the mayor runs, you get more people voting
than at any. other time because, like I say, in Eatonville everything
is Built around the mayor, and the people really get out and vote
then. iUh, they uh, JE, we had a real good turnout during the
F 42_ A
SUBJECT: Npthgnipl ,yereen',
DATE: Aug. 3, 19g75
last, this was We call an off-year one, when just the councilmen
,ran, we had a pretty good turnout Because there were issues in this
last election that caused people to go out, I imagine than usual.
I read--do you remember reading anything about Eatonville?
lTh, no. We looked around and we couldn't find very much about
you didn t?
Last year I don't remember reading anything about it.
You don't remember-you didn't read, you didn't get any of the
headlines last year?
I don't think so, no, what happened last year?
3^ know they had Ia ... I thought everybody heard about Eatonville
No, what, what happened.
UK, we had a real, one of the hottest things going in here, and we
made the headlines/ V8o c14 CenVr/' d/c, we had a grand
jury investigation of the finances of the town.
Oh W-at was turned up in that investigation?
I:was found with a conflict of interest.
i see. What was the conflict of interest?
Was the, in 1970 I: entered into a contract to build the
jail, and conflict of interest was that I:was, by me being mayor,
and I couldn't enter into an agreement to do business" with myself.
TI thiin it was a technicality. But what aZhappened with-the- thing
FB 42A, Side One
hd Page 17
was that as you stay in office you get political enemies, you get
anti- Icyl'- you know. The longer you stay in there, the more
of this type of thing. And you had some councilmen that were staying
on the Board, that were on the Board a long time that were desirous
of becoming mayor, so they figured that the only thing they could to
get to become mayor was to get me out of office through some way or
I r see.
V: So that was the thing behind this thing.
I Were those councilmen coming out then for election last year?
V: Yes, uh huh, yes they were.
I: And did they win...
I: ...or lose.
V; They lost.
I: I see. Who were those councilmen, if you don't mind my asking?
Y: Randolph and, uh, Tihbs.
I I see.
V; And Roosevelt Scott, Scott 2al5 ''s Did you have Scott on your
I: Yes, Scott's on our list.
V: Scott's on your list.
I- He lives out in Maitland I believe doesn't he?
V: Yes, uh huh.
I: Um, okay then, so you had a very high turn out last year?
FR 42A. Side One
bd Page 18
V: Right, uh huh.
I: Normally what's a turnout in off year?
V: Uh, usually we get about, uh, less than 30Q people.
I: Okay. What's the largest number of opponents you've ever had run
against you in any election?
V: Three, I've had two opponents.run against me. Two's the largest.
I; Okay, you said you were unopposed in '64?
V: No, no in...
I: "74 you were unopposed. Okay, how many opponents did you have in '64?
V: Three, two opponents, there was three of us.
I: And how many did you have in '66?
V: Uh, three.
I: And in '68?
V: Uh, one.
I: And '70?
: Uh, one.
I: And then in '72 how many did you have?
I: Okay, the next group of questions: here is, well first before we go
into that, what percentage in you elections recently, what percentage
did, for instance.. in '74 you were unopposed.
FP 42A, S,ide One
bd Page 19
I, In '72 what percentage of the total vote did you get?
1: I forget, in '74 I was unopposed.
I: Right in 72 what percentage of the total vote?
V: Uh,, .60,.. about 66-67 percent.
I; Okay. The next group of questions here are asked to determine how
well black officials in Florida have been able to benefit those that
they represent. How effective have you been? In what ways do you
think that you have helped blacks, or in other words all the people
in your district by holding office?
V: Right, well, I think that as a result of my holding office here in
the town of Eatonville I've been able to make some 'i roc d S in-
to letting people know that they, that their town is being well represented
throughout the state of Florida. My, uh, in my getting around throughout
the state. That's one. Number two we've been able to get a number
of federal programs, federal funds I mean in the town.here as results
of my leadership. Uh, we've been able to involve people in the govern-
ment. And all organized and put them on committees and let them see
what they can do for their town. We've been, uh, involved in getting
our pleple getting them involved in issues during the national
and state and local elections. And I think these are basically things
that /Cave- A eJP4/r -/hc- A4-s e n o c/r-r-e..
V:* ...necessary and also serve as an image for blacks throughout, throughout
this area. And I think that we, we do create quite an interest when I
VB .42A Side One
bd. Page 20
do run, even in the white community. I have this, I have a number
of white supporters that keep up with Eatonville much more than
a number of citizens in the town. And they sort of pull for me
now and then. Uh, involved in the council of local goveriients
here which I was elected their chairman in, oh, 1970. The elected.
He had a council of local governments which the mayor commissioners
and so forth, and I was elected chairman therefore, in 170',,
And uh, this type of thing, sort of let them know that blacks can.
I1: We have a, first off what if anything do you think has prevented you
from doing a better job, especially in regard to benefiting the people
in your district?
SV; Well I think basically with the, uh, these attitudes of people that
I have, I think their lack of participation, their lack of coming in,
-_olunteer, trying to do something for the community. Uh, I would think
this probably has been the thing that has hampered me more than any-
thing else. I feel that the man made by so many of us citizens feel
that we have a chest of funds up there that we go to and do what we
want to do. The funds are just not there. And relating with that,
I think.that, I think funds have been, the lack of funds that I can
hire persons, technical assistant people into a town to help the town
is one of the things now that I've been lacking. It's been difficult,
I can't, no way in the world for me to do it all myself. And I needed
tech? ical people on my staff so that I could get, so the lack of
funds for high technical assistant people, technical people on my staff,
so that we could...
FB 42A- Side. One
bd. Page 21
I: What, what would be an example of a, a technical assistant?
'V: Well, for example we have just recently hired a city planner. We
hired him under the CETA program. Uh, we have just recently, when
I say this year here, hired a projects coordinator, federal state
project coordinator to go for the federal funds. We just recently
hired a, been able to put a librarian on the staff to work with the
little kids. Just recently put a full time recreational person on
the staff. And uh, these are.just some areas there, what I call a
technical assistant that would help in providing the types of staff
so that I can really get into helping people. Uh we just, of course
we didn't keep him long, we were involved in putting a finance director,
all of these are persons on the staff that can somewhat take care of
something. Take the load off me. Uh, we hired a finance director
in '72, I: believe. And uh, here again we, as results of putting tech-
nical people on, .we drain our treasury, and thereby we were limited
in providing along with the technical assistant, then you got to have
some money to implement this type of recommendation, the things necessary
to go with a good planning program, to go with a good recreational
program, to go with a good librarian t e s r ] vaeao*.
I Okay I have a, another little slip there, fill it out please. List
the.factors that have been found to limit or to prevent black elected
officials from doing a good job. The first one there, the office has
no real authority. In other words, the man gets elected, he discovers
that he really can't do anything because either after he's elected or
FBk 42A Side One
hd Page 22
before he's elected the powers of the office are limited or removed
to the point where he can't do what he set out to do. Have you found
a limitation of authority in you office has prevented you from doing
what you want to do?
IV: No, uh, not since I've been on the, been as mayor. Uh, I have always
had -very good cooperative council up until '74 during the time of the
investigation. Uh, '73 I believe it started turning and uh, the uh,
the type of government that we have is a strong mayor, council strong
ability. And uh, by me being chairman of the hoard, by me being the
administrative officer for the town.
V: ~ell here again, now it might seem that you can stronghold these people
by you being in these positions. But you've got to be able to win the
influence of the council to get them to vote with you. And I think
that this has been the cause of my relationship with the council in
presenting positive and good programs. I never have just presented
something to the council for some personal benefit...
END OF SIDE ONE
FB 42A. Side.Two
bd Page 23
: ...-.in my opinion for the best interest of the community. And uh, as
a result of that we've been able to get the council to go up on, go
with me Because of their confidence and trust in my ability to admis-
trate the town. I'm somewhat always, I've always, uh, acted very
conservative in my approach to the funds. Uh, and as a result of that
we have always been able to have a confidence and trust of the govern-
ment, and r've been able very much to do the things that our money
would let us do.
I' Which brings up the next applicable one here. Do you think that lack
of revenue has been very important, fairly important, or not important
in preventing you from what you wanted to get done.
V: Oh yes, very important in terms of that.
V: Well, when I first took office the funds of the town or the budget for
the first audit reveals had a general revenue of $24,000.
I. So what's the general revenue now?
V: Uh, general revenue now is running pretty close to about $400,000.
I: What about unfamilariaty with administrative duties. When you first
came into the, when you first came into the council did it hinder you
then, and then when you finally got into the mayor's position, did
you then have new duties which.you were unfamiliar with. And if so,
in either case, how important would you say this was?
V; Well, after first getting into the city council in 1958 that seemed
to arouse my interest in government, as result of that. I, I started
FB 42A SideTdp.
bd Page 24
school myself in terms of reading about local governments, uh, reading
about government, taking a very interested, how other cities ran, I
read the paper rather thoroughly and I, uh, kept up with things and
', -.uh, every, even the local government. I would go down, sit in on
their meetings. But even this, I would think that there were some
things, not actually holding the office yourself and not having any
experience in administration as such there. This was the most, uh,
difficult thing that I did have. But by having a, a good council
that they were willing, they encouraged me to attend as many meetings
as I possibly could. They supported me. And as results of that I,
uh, was able to cope with the situation. I found out this, that govern-
-ment is not run as a social organization, which so many people feel.
You have your charter, you go by charter, that's it. And this was the
thing when I tried to familiarize myself with the charter. And basically
we did not have too much of a charter. Our charter was, uh, written
in 19... in 1887, original charter. I think we had to revise it in
I hten, has it, it's been revised now.
7: 6e revised it in 1967.
I1 What about lack of cooperation from/you, I think you've said some of
this before, just briefly would you say that it's very important, or
fairly important, the lack of cooperation from the local citizens?
V: yTeah, uh, we, you know, lack of the understanding there. But even
here, and thewa at you have i here. Uh, in order or Eatonville,
here, and the wat that you have it here. Uh, in order for Eatonville,
FI42A Side Two
d- Page 25
a small town such as Eatonville, now, we can't just, uh, for to have
survived in these trying times, we could not have survived without
the cooperation of even whites. Uh, the city of Maitland there has
been quite, uh...
1 Hbow-have they helped?
V: ...instrumental in providing help. Uh, when I first went in office,
I received a call, whatever we can do here in the areas of technical
advise, technical assistance, we'll be happy to do that for you. And
one of the most political agencies that could help Eatonville has
been the Orange County Commissioners. And uh, when I took office, +4e)
should I say the way that the government operated a little different
than now, they were real helpful in providing assistance to us. We
could go to the Jounty commissionerss when I first got in office and
say listen, we'd like for you to come by grade our streets for us.
We're paying county taxes, they would come out and do this for us.
4e didn't have laws as such for/ that they followed to the T. They
felt that we were a part of the Orange County community and they
would come in and assist us. I've gone to county commissioners
meetings up there. And uh, they, when I walk in the meeting they
have even stopped,havieg adjournment. They did not deal with me in
0 ^r)on; (LLe
the open, they dealt me in the back room. Which means that even-then,
actually, I profited by that because they usually didn't let me come
out with nothing in the paper that they were helping Eatonville, but
they always did it in the background. This type of thing has been able...
FK42A Side Two
bhd Page 26
r: Do they still continue to help Eatonville?
V: No, no, no, we get very little help from...
I But all the help that you did get years ago when you first came in
office was gotten through Back room conferences.
V: Right, uh huh, and they were democrats. And the republicans got
in, but the republicans didn't get too many votes from out here
and as results of that they always threw, throw this up in my face,
and they still do.
I What.about the lack of cooper, do you notice a lack of cooperation
from state officials?
V: Uh, no I do not, uh, now we get real good cooperation from the, from
state officials. The community affairs department in the state of
Florida has been real helpful to us in providing information and
providing us with answers and things that we inquire about. The
League of Cities, aetaee=-f=f hi they'd come right in there and
do what we asked them to do in any type of technical assistance we
asked for. Since recently they've organized the community affairs
department/ fs results of that they've been able to provide us with
some technical assistance and also some studies. They did a study
they provided funds to do a study of Eatonville. Uh, which we, the
study itself was good. We don't think that we needed a study as such.
They did not consult us of whether or not we needed this type of study
I: What was the studies on basically?
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 27
V: Uh, it was based on uh, basic problems and some type of approaches,
recommendations for improvement. In fact we don't have the, we
don't have a written copy of the report as yet, but we hope to
I: What about the federal officials? Have you had any problems, have
they, has lack of cooperation from federal officials hindered you
in doing your job?
V: Uh, well it's, the federal government you're tied up with too much
bureaucracy. In times of things they always have it so tied up
there that you won't even qualify to fit some of the programs that
they did have. Uh, for an example, uh, we went to them for, in '67,
we went to them for assistance for sewer program here in the town.
And it took them from '67 to 1973 to, uh, '72, to really consumate
a project that we were so deathly in need of. That was a sewer
program. And uh, and they have it so written that by a community
of this size, you always fall in between some programs there that
you, you either qualify for or you don't or you over-qualify for
'em. One way, you don't qualify in such as you don't come up to
the standard or you go over the standard. And this has always been
I: I see. Do you think that white officials treat you differently from
other officials from, do they treat you differently because you're
a black when you're dealing with federal officialA state officials,
couhty-officials. Uh, do you find that they take you as a spokesman
for the blacks in Eatonville or just for blacksin general and
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 28
you're not able to raise other issues. Do you have any of these
V: I've, uh, I have found this a lot of time, uh, in some instances
the hand of help has been genuine and maybe in some cases it's
been somewhat superficial, hasn't been the genuine type thing.
A lot of 'em think that well, we talk, you know, bill a sale of
goods abou A.- and then when you get down to the meat of the
thing a lot of times, and especially with the federal government,
they somewhat told you one thing, then come time to deliver then
it's another ballgame. I find this to be true in a number, in a
number of instances.
I: What services do you think, uh, what services have you provided
the people in your district that they didn't have before you took
office? Uh, some, just a few examples of these if you would.
V: Well, let's start with the police department. When I took office,
uh, the police department, the police officers were wearing anything
the wanted to on duty. They did not have a uniform as such. Uh,
did not have around the clock communications. We, uh, brought the
police department up from 2 percent to 90 percent.
I: 2 percent to 90 percent being on what scale,\percent of?,.?
V: In terms of, uh, efficiency.
V: On a scale in other words.
I: Any other areas do you think have...
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 29
V: Oh yes.
I: The sewer system is one of them.
V: The sewer system we have had a, we have a 100 percent sewer system
in the town which we can boast of, so many cities can't say that.
Although they may have, uh, it available there, but so far as them
actually hooked up or anything like that I don't think so, cause
there's very few cities can say that. Uh, we have brought the
fire-department up from volunteer firemen to a full time fire department.
We've been able to get a rating to nine in the fire department. Been
able to get some, uh, up-to-date police station there. We've been
able to provide a librarian, we've been able to provide a recreational
department. This is our second year in providing a food program for
underprivileged in the community. And uh, we have that tied in with
the recreational department. And uh, we have one of the best programs
we think-in the entire state so far as the recreation and for the
program going on and involving, involving kids. We've been able to
pave some streets since we've been in office. We've been able to
organize an efficient record keeping system and staff, qualified
staff, we have staff. When I first took office we had
no full time employees up until now we have a staff of forty-one.
These are basically-e es areas that we have been able to make some
I: Okay, I have a, another check list here. If you would just very
briefly check how you, how uh, how effective you have been in each
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 30
of those areas, if you'll just a pencil and quickly go down the
V: Oh yeah.
I: The categories are self-explanitory. We've talked about most of
V: In the police protection I think I've been very effective. Uh,
streets and roads, somewhat. Housing, uh, I don't think we deal,
dealt with that. Employment'somewhat effective. Uh, and here
again as long as I felt that we have some people that need jobs
then, then I, uh, I could not give them no more than that. Parks
and recreation:somewhat. Water, sewer and garbage, very effective.'
Uh, Somewhat water and sewer and garbage very effective there in
terms of that. Now I have to separate the sewer and garbage in
being very effective and the water I have to say we're somewhat in
the water department there. In education we don't feel that we
get into that, but I think that even in the field of education, this
being my profession, uh, I think I've even been somewhat effective in
education, encouraging boys and girls to go to school and this kind
of thing. They have a school in the community that I worked, coopera-
ti-e- with the school programs and whatever I could do. From that
point of view then we think that we have been. But so far as the
structure of the taxes and the way that they are so structured, this
is a county function, a district function and not a local function
there if you take it from a financial point of view. Uh, health and
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 31
hospitals, this is more or less another county function. The cities
do not, do not deal in, although we try to work with agencies that
do do this, and trying to get them to come into our community. For
example sickle cell anemia, uh, sickle cell anemia program there,
we, we're trying to get a testing program out here. These are b _rc_- 'f#.
.1 : Okay, finally on the bottom there is fire protection.
V: Oh yeah, fire protection there. We have been somewhat effective in that
because of our rating, that we've been able to get a full time fire
department from that. It's not as well as we would like to do. But
under circumstances it has been somewhat effective there.
j /: Now, you mentioned that you've been able to federal funds and federal
grants and revenue sharing and things of this nature and, uh, could
you mention just a few specific grants' and amounts of those grants?
/: Oh yeah, well we, under the sewer program we got, we were able to
get, uh, feur hundred and, or $350 grant under the sewer program,
$350,000 1 meant. Sewer program we got 60... are you talking about
-: Yeah, it's...
f: Federal trade...
Y:. federal .
V f: Federa then we've been able to do that. We've been able to get
revenue sharing comes to about $40,000 each year.
T Y: Okay.
V /: So including the five year thing it would be about $200,000 for the
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 32
entire period of the present appropriations.
I: Have you as an elected, is there another major grant you wanted
V: Well I think that's basically so far as the federal government
is concerned' ;r ,
I: Okay. Have you as an elected official or as part of the city
government league or anything in that area been able to bring
industry or retail stores into the area, into Eatonville particularly?
V: No, no.
I: No, okay. Uh, has there been any growth in terms of industry or
business over the last ten years.
V: Yeah, I would, uh, basically you got to understand Eatonville in
terms of the type of community. This is basically a residential
community. Due to the structure of the community I don't think
we gonna ever get too many industries into the community. As it
is so organized and so structured now, the orange county school
qJ fz paercc--+ r- -
board owns about ferty three of the taxable land within the town
I: What about the total land area, how much do they have?
V: Uh, about 550 acres, I believe.
I: And so that's what percentage of all land taxable and non-taxable
what percentage would you say they own?
V: Well, what I'm saying is that I think our overall taxable land runs
right about $ 3,000,000 taxable, run about percent. Because
right about $ 3,000,000 taxable, run about fiffy percent. Because
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 33
you got about fotyreen percent owned by the school board and
then you got the school board, other non-profit organizations
which comes up to about difty percent. So you have less than
$6,000,000 in all about $3,000,000 taxes-.
I: So how, how much does the city get a year in tax?
V: In tax we get about $40,000.
I: Okay you mentioned that there is a $400,000 city budget now,
I: Besides taxes and the federal grants which you mentioned, what makes
up then the rest of it, what, what say are the major components, the
major sources of the city's budget?
V: Uh, I was trying to put out one of my budgets so I could actually
give it to you I have a C p a~r-c-.
there were three budgets. Okay now, we had, uh, we had revenue
sharing from the state, the revenues here are federal,
I: How much do you get from each of those?
V: In uh, in '73 we got, uh, state about 137,000. Now this was, I
would think it would be about the same thing, there wouldn't be
too much difference in this.
V: In, uh, federal revenue sharing we got 76,000,-state grants we got
86,000, profit taxes equal 32,000, lisences and permits were 9,000,
fines and costs at 41,000, other taxes 32,000, and other revenues
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 34
33,000. That's basically I think now about it.
V: Budget there about 9Y'0, 000
I: That covers it.. Do you think that local government, city of
Eatonville, hiring practices are fair, or is there any discrimination
on the basis of either race or, uh, where you live, something of
V: Uh, it...
I: What, say, section of town you live or...
V: No, we don't have any restrictions so far as employment practices
here, if they live in. We have a city planners wi-e, financial
, c- k,\f-
directors wi-e, an engineer's wi-e, uh, we do use, uh, accounting
firm, auditing firm is quite, I think that even in all of these
areas we have had applications from, from blacks to apply for this.
Our prosecuting attorney for the town of Eatonville is white. We
have one white dispatcher. We did have two white dispatchers, but
one quit a couple weeks ago. But basically that's al composition.
And I don't know, uh, of course I've been charged with discrimination
in my, in my methods of trying to do something. I don't, I don't
in an all white, all black community I don't see how you, although
they've charged us in terms of doing this.
I: I see.
V: But basically the general structure here.
I: Okay, uh, you, do you think that federal revenue sharing has helped
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 35
the district, or Eatonville, and that it's worthwhile?
V: Oh yes, no, no doubt about the revenue sharing. I think I said
we get an average of about $40,000 a year and certainly it is
one of the ways of helping us survive.
I: Okay, have there been any, uh, black protests or sit ins or riots)
boycotts in Eatonville in the last ten years? Civil disturbances?
V: So far there hasn't been anything in Eatonville. We came close
to one in 1967 when they changed the name of the school over there,
this was the closest we did have to that type of order.
I: What did they change the name from?
V: TVey changed it from Hungerford High School to Wymore Tech. Hungerford
School, uh, did have so much meaning to so many boys and girls in
this area. We felt that Wymore Tech, Wymore wasn't tied into anything
it didn't have no meaning. This was the fact.
I: Is it now called Wymore Tech?
V: Yes, uh huh.
I: Noticed that someone had said it's over near, something was over
near the Hungerford School.
V: We uh, I exerted quite a bit of efforts to keep the pl- (o t vI
coming, you know the boycott. Had I known what I know now I would
not have stopped it.
I: Well what changes it so that you would not stop it now that you
would stop it then? What do you think?
V: I found out that it's so difficult to sit down and talk to a group
of political figures that made up there mind to do something, thinking
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 36
you come out on a fair deal. They made up their mind, and you
got to exert as much public interest. I think from this point of
view, letting the political figures know how you feel about some-
thing rather than swallowing things as they come by, you have to
I: I see. Okay the next group of questions are used just to enable
an assessmentt of black politics in Florida in general. Uh, they
don't need to be answered in depth except for the next one, not
this coming one. Briefly what do you think of Governor Ruben
Askew, do you think he's been favorably in attitude in policy toward
black in Florida or not?
V: I think Askew has been very instrumental in setting up policies
that effected blacks. Uh, for example, one are tehe n terms
of the various boards, I don't how many of the various professional
occupational department, uh, I think they have about pretty close,
about twenty-seven different boards. I think that one of his
policies was to have a black on every one of those boards. I
think that this is one area where the blacks have been able to
get into where the decisions are made. And unless the blacks get
down to where the decisions are made, then they can help determine
policies. They may not necessarily help blacks per se, per-se I
they won't be against blacks, cause they don't want to be a, be
somewhat of a backset for them, policy that would not
be too much in their favor. I think this has been one area that
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 37
I do hope that... and in philosophy in terms of speaking out
for people, I think it's been one of the strongest since Leroy
Collins was governor before. I thought Leroy Collins when he
said that it was unfair, he didn't think it was morally wrong
for people to take your money over the counter and not, still
deny you a public facility as a bathroom, was very strong back
in the cixti4e. And I heard Leroy, I mean Askew say some things
right here in Orange County in terms of busing and in terms of
equality of people that it would take a strong government to
get in Orange County now, Orange County is ultra-conservative.
I: What is your opinion of, I'm not familiar with who all the state
representatives and senators are here, but what is your opinion
of the representatives and senators to the state legislature from
V: In this-area I think it has been very, very conservative.
I: Do you think they've been fair to blacks or favorable or unfavorable,
V: I would think maybe in summing it up all the may, may have been
probably, they may have tilt the scale towards more unfavorable than
favorable in terms of overall action because they, I think have not,
we don't have enough blacks registered, and they run state wides,
their not just here, and county wide as results the whites have
always out numbered the blacks in their district. If we could all
more blacks registered so that they could, fairly think we could
have the ears of these people.
FB 42A Side Two
bd Page 38
I: Do you think that winning, this is the big question, I suppose,
do you think that winning and holding office in Florida has
been worth the effort? Do you think that it, that it has paid
off for you to get and hold an elected office here?
V: Uh, I think so. Uh, see when I took office there was a lot of
things going on in Eatonville that were not considered as desirable
as a community where you would be proud to live. A community where
everything that was in the news was somewhat of a backlash to you
or somewhat of an anti to you and this is the way that the paper
normally did it, anything favorable in fact they still do it. I'm
on them about it everyday by trying to do some of the good things
in part, publishing the good of Eatonville rather than just the bad
part. But uh, I think I've Been able and instrumental in providing
a leadership in Eatonville where in that the people that living here
are not ashamed to say that they live here. They're proud that
they live in Eatonville. And up until the time we had this investi-
gation, of course everything came out alright except that little
Bit. But even at that I think that it was worth it to me. I think
l've become a much stronger candidate, a person as a mayor and as
an individual. Spiritually, morally, everything But financial. And
uh, that point of view I think the people are proud of Eatonville.
E: Okay, the uh, last group of questions here is just used to compile
a general composite of Black elected officials. You were first
elected in 1958 to councilman and then in 1963 you became mayor,
FB.42A. Side. Two
bI. Page 39
I: And you took office in '63. Uh, you've run for office seven
times? Now, / ,~t Now, you've run for office seven times
right? Uh, do you mind my, asking how old are you?
V: No, fifty-one.
I:: TYu certainly don't look it. What is your occupation, what was
your occupation, you were a teacher when you were first elected
and then the volunteer fire department.
I: What is your occupation now?
V: Wll, I am a Businessman carrying on a Business of a cabinet shop
and a general contractor.
ID Do you, general contracting as a, general contracting building houses
and- .- I7
V: Yes, right.
I: Okay. Uh, do you have any other occupation or source of income
aside from your contracting, cabinet making and political office?
I; Okay, what is the salary that you get from your elected position?
V: Well, I would say during the bulk. of the time that I:'ve been in
office, uh, I would think that I:was, they started paying me $40
I: What do they payr you now?
V: Uh, then it went up to $100 and it's been off and on, and it was up
FB 42A Side Two
bud Page 40
until last month $20Q per month for an administrator, for the
amount of time that's necessary to put in office areas. And I
would think that I spend at least two to three hours per day
with the town government. And up until, uh, the last, the third
tuesday in last month I1.recommended to the council that we do
not get any salary at all because of the financial condition of
our general fund. So we're not getting anything now. A the council
and even the mayor get anything.
IT Okay, what is...
V: Let, let me give you my philosophy on this. I don't think, I think
that, I think the political offices are paid a little bit too much
for their services. Uh, I think that political offices, I think
that this is the way the forefathers, uh, somewhat organized and
somewhat structured it, because I think there should be some sacrifice
on the part of an individual serving his country. You been paying
for everying then you got professional people getting into office
that, and this is why you have so many lawyers I think in political
office. I think there should be some kind of sacrifice made on an
individual who holds a public office. Now there's some such as your
governor maybe he should, take all of his time and thing, you take
the state legislature. They, with the salary that they're getting,
I think that's too, too much money. Now see right here in Eatonville,
Eatonville's a small community and I think some renumerationcould
Be, should Be made, But I don't think it should Be commensury with
FK 42A Side Two
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what a person get out there, not unless it is full time, full time
I' Okay, I see the point. Okay what is the level of your education,
what's the farthest you've gone then, you've...
I: Would, would you say what, what year did you get through equivalency
and all added together. You would say... well I'd say you've had
the equivalent of a high school education or would you say you've
had the equivalent of, uh, junior college, or where would you say?
V: The equivalent of a Ph.D. Cchucklel. Well, I, uh, I, I didn't
finish high school.
V: But I did finish college.
I- You did finish college?
V: Yeah, I did finish college and also I finished, uh, I finished, uh,
,my master's degree.
I: Where'd you get you're master's degree?
V; Peoria, Illinois.
I:: I see, that's impressive. What church do you belong to?
V: IR long to a protestant Baptist church.
I- Is that the AME, or...
'V No, this is the Baptist. I: don't belong to a church in Eatonville.
V: I', uh, 3 Belong to a church in mya hometown that I grew up, still have
FB.42A Side TWo
bx Page 42
my membership there. It's a little community about three miles
from here, uh, that I, that's always maintained my membership
there. Of course people have asked me why don't I belong to
Eatonville. I think still owe something or.other to my hometown.
I, so often people get up and the first thing they do is try to
affiliate themselves with a larger church, larger community, and
-uh, I maintain my membership there. I think we have about a member-
ship of about 3 Mmaybe at the most.
I Are you an official in your church?
V: Uh, yes, uh, I, I'.served as sunday school teacher up until a
few years- ago. .Theylre trying to get me back, and which I'm
considering seriously taking that back. And also I serve on the
trustee board, and chairman of the building committee.
I: Are there any other, besides the city government league and being
mayor, are there any other community organizations or activities
that you're involved in?
1: Uh, could you give us a brief summary please?
7: Well, uh, Ilm a member of the southern conference of black mayors,
which I.rm the representative for the blacks through this organization.
I also serve as, on the chairman of the, on the advisor board for
the vocational department at Seminole Junior College, I serve on the
Black. advisory, committee on the, uh, Valencia Junior College. I
serve as the Board of director on the f h^ o ri" v Contractors
FB&42A Side Two
b.d Page 43
Association based in Tampa. Two or three little other things
scattered around, I can hardly remember.
I: Okay. Jh, what did your father do?
V: My father was a farmer, truck farmer, that's how I came, I came
up on the farm.
I: I see. Uh, are you married?
Ir And do you have children?
V: Yes, I' have five children.
I: What effects then have running for and holding office over these
years-had on.yourself and your family in terms of your social life?
V: Yeah, I: think that my family has, uh, really suffered as results
of me holding a political office because I have spent so little
time with my family. They understand that, they have to have, I
look at it in terms of them having a happy community in which that
they'll be proud of. That they wouldn't mind coming back to. And
uh, and they've been very cooperative with me. And uh, I think that
from this point of view they have been the ones that suffer because
I won't spend that much time with them.
I. Okay. What, uh, what do you feel is the key, you've been a successful
man in politics. You've held office now for fifteen years, longer
than that I suppose. You started in 1958. What do you see as the
key to your success. Why,.whydo you think that you have remained in
office, that you-re so popular with the voters, uh, what factors do
F& 42A- Side Two
bd Page 44
you think are important in this?
V: ell I' think the, I think my success has been on my ability to, uh ,
work with people, and my ability to tell them the facts as I see it,
Be truthful. I" think this might be a contributive factor because
TENJOF TAP A
B 42. side One
bd Page 45
I: Personally, wh do you like, or dislike your job? You've been
here for a long time so I would assume that you like the job.
.. So personally why do you like it, uh, what does it...
V: Well I' think maybe I was born with the, uh, inate drive there
to probably to help people. And I always desire in helping and
doing things for people. And being the mayor of E&tonville has
provided me with the position of trying, of being where I can help
the most people. And uh, I often think of, you know, some, so many
people have used the local office and then they have a desire to
move into other areas, uh, I think that Being here as the mayor of
Eatonville has somewhat wore me out to the extent that 1, uh, I
have no other political ambition other than trying to do this and
trying to organize and help Eatonville. Put it in some position so
that when I leave out of office that another person would come in
and be able to take up where, to this point, and take it on, rather
than trying to do away with what I have tried to accumulate.
P; Dr. Button.
B: Hi' there Mr. Vereen.
YV: fow-you doing sir. You didn't have no trouble finding us?
B: Inm Dr. Jim Button.
V: I'm Nat Vereen, how do you do.
B Yeah, I was at your house and then I was wondering around here, I
didn't know exactly where you were.
I: I do have, uh, just a couple more questions to wrap it up. First
FB.424 .Side One
bd Page 46
off, how long have blacks, how long has it been since whites
left Eatonville and it became an all Black town?
V: Well, basically, uh, go Back to the history of Eatonville. The
history of Eatonville has been a, been an all-black town. It
was incorporated by all blacks. And the reason for this, even
Mainland Before Eatonville was incorporate, blacks ran for office
in Ma~j and, a neighboring town. And Blacks were elected to office
in Eatonville, and the black, first chief of police in Maitland was
Black. And so after blacks were being successful in politics in
Maitland, Maitland's answer to that was why don't you organize your
own town? So that you can have these positions and then you won't
have to be coming over here running for our offices. And uh, as a
result of that, Eatonville was organized 'bc -k- and incorporated.
I' think they had twenty-seven registered voters at that time.
K Eatonville, the census tells us that Eatonville has more than
doubled in size between the period 196Q and 1970. Has this phenomenal
growth rate continued over the last few years, or has it slowed
V: It has slowed down tremendously. Uh, we worked hard for a sewer
program so that we could the type of Building permits, issue permits
that caused Eatonville to grow, to get some ','wJ family units,
such as apartments, condos, and the like. When we got our sewer
program, we applied for some permits for a nursery home down there,
they say that we can't give you a permit for that because you got
FB.42B. Side One
bd Page 47
to have a sewer to get a nursery in town. We were able to get
around those (afL5~5A'6L/ and we were able to get a nursery built
through special conditions there. A fellow applied for a motel
and they told him that they would not issue him a permit to put
in septic tank, although we issue our permits, the health department
does issue permits for septic tanks.
V: So we saw-then that there was a need to get our sewer program so that
we could get this type of structure. So after the, uh, after the
after we got our sewer program going we got it completed then a
moritory was issued by the state of Florida because we entered into
agreement with the city of Altamonte to treat our sewers. And then
their plant was found inadequate to continue on)with continued adding
on customers. So they placed a moratorium since '72 we have had a
moritorium on all Building permits on the town of Eatonville up until
two weeks ago we did get a letter releasing fifty permits to be issued
toconnect on to the sewer plant. And since the two weeks we've had
applications for 1, 2, 3, 4, we've used five of those fifty so far.
I: Okay. 'iat is the average income in Eatonville?
V: Uh, I think that, uh...
I' And then as well, what is the range, the low to the high?
N: Qkay let me give it to you ~ cfut Uh ,we have a general
development comprehensive plan for the town of Eatonville that was
done by ___ Associates out of Sarasota, Florida. J was done in
E.42B. Side One
bd Page 48
1973 and they documented all of the number of areas here in terms
of finances and so forth, so let me find the figures that they came
up with-and I can give it to you factual. They did a study on the,
uh, they did four areas, the existing land using rielor analysis,
population analysis projection, economics and tax base
analysis and general development plan. Okay now I got it here.
Income range, this is 1972.
V: MTh, they came up with- y\eir4 15% of the population was under
3,000. 3,000 and under. 19% 3,000 4,999. 33% between the range
of 5,000 7,499. 19,. between the range of 7,500 9,999. 8% 10,000 -
11,Q00. And 6% 12,000 and over. And this is a, although this is
documented by them in terms of the state, I think this is maybe very
conservative approach there. I think it was...
V: ...much higher than that. Because, well, this is one area that in
the Black community they're very conservative about giving you what
you make, what they make. And uh, I would say that these are, this
under that philosophy that you're not going, it'd he difficult to
define these ranges in the black community. NTowthat's one thing
that is- figured that white's want to know the businesses, consequently
whites take the population and take the census, they look real conser-
,vative at it.
I Okay. Finally we .ust, that concludes the interview thank you very much.
FB..42B .Side One
bd Page 49
Uh, before I turn the tape off there's one other thing I'd like to
ask.you about. At the University of Florida we have what's called
the Oral History- project in which they collect tapes and transcripts
of tapes of elected officials and important people and save them for
scholars to use. They're not a matter of public record, it's strictly
for.scholarly use in the University libraries. Uh, what will happen
is, if you give us a tentative agreement now, they'll take the tape
and transcriBe it. And they'll send you sometime between now and I
guess a year from now, how ever long it takes them to get around to
doing these things, a copy of the transcript which you will have the
right to edit and del te parts and change parts, or if you wish, reject
the whole thing and say they can't use it. And they'll send you a
release form along with:this so that you can release the tape or the
edited transcript. W-buld you be interested or would you have any
objections against having, let, having us let the Oral History Project
have this tape after we're done with it?
V; Uh, I would have no objection to letting them have it.
I': And transcribe it.
V: And transcribe it, But here again I would like to look at what I:
V; ...Before I,. ,
I, -Before.theY. release it they will send you a transcript.
E: And you can decide not to release.it if you look it over and decide
FR.42B1 Side One
bd Page 50
V: Right, yeah. Just off hand I don't think I've said anything that
I wouldn't mind Being made public.
B: You can leave off portions too.
V: Yeah, uh huh.
I: Okay, thank you .very-much sir.