Title: Nathaniel Vereen
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Title: Nathaniel Vereen
Series Title: Nathaniel Vereen
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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.
that, uh,
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.

14 hnm.


^42A 3 Mayhew

SUBJECT: Nathaniel -'Vereen


DATE: Aug. 3, 1975

~'; U, XZKX we have a, a, actually a, we go around during this partic-
uh, get
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

election., .

1: Right.

: 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.

I: Yes.

V: Right.

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.
4-o0 te
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

I:: Oh.

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 --

I: Right.

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.

V: Yeah.

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,

I: Okay.

V: We, we, let me put that back here. Let me move it back.

I: Okay.

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,

I: Oh'

, 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.

I': Oay.

IV: Never had anything JM.

: WWere you handicapped by a lack of campaign money at any point along

the way?

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
only only
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

30X -election.

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
sort of

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

issues F.,

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

S.you know.

I: II see.

V;: ou ee-.whatimean? This has really been the type problem that we're

faced with.

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,

TI Okay.
.: 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

Thart' s
,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


I: Right.
I.: Okay,.
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.

IV: m...yeah.

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?

You didn't?

Urn mm.

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...

V: No.

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...

1- '63?

V: ...'74.

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?

V: One.

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.

V: Right.

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..

I: Okay...

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.

I Riht.

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...


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.

I: Okay.

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
V &
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
av.d I
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

or not.

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

get it.

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

our problem.

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
ee2JaXf1ttr r,3
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.

I: Okay.

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

columns there.

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

to mention?

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

of Eatonville.

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,

general revenue?

V: Right.

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.

I: Okay.

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.

I: Okay.

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

that nature?

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

do this.

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

this area?

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

V: Yes.

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.

V: Yes.

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?

T: No.

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

a -month.

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
bd Page 41

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...

V: Well...

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.

I: Right.

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.

1I oh.

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?

V: Yes.

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?

'V; Yes.

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

uh, :I...


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.

1p Right.

.. 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

down some?

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.

I. Right.

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.

I: Okay.

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...

I. Okay.

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:

have said..

I: Yes.

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

not to.

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.


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