Title: Charles H. Hill
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00005806/00001
 Material Information
Title: Charles H. Hill
Series Title: Charles H. Hill
Physical Description: Book
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00005806
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


This item has the following downloads:

Binder16 ( PDF )

Full Text
FB 46A Bridges

Page 1

Interview: "Button Project"

Subject: Charles H. Hill

The interviewer has not been identified.

I think that will pick up everything okay.

I: Have you interviewed anybody in Pensacola?

H: Yeah, uh, Mr. Williamson.

I: Uh, Dr. Spence?

H: We haven't been to him because, uh, mainly because we're trying to

concentrate on people who've been in office--

I: Oh.

H: In '74.

I: Oh, I see.

H: People who have more of a perspective of the office.

I: Right, uh huh. The, uh, first few questions we'd like to ask you to

deal with, um--elections and your voting and registering in Florida

politics. We'd like to ask you first of all, uh--what year you first

registered to vote.

H: What year?

I: In Florida, yeah. Approximately.

H: I haven't the--well, I'll say this. When they, uh, in the state of

Florida, when I became eligible I registered then and voted, but I

can't remember the--

1: As soon as you became twenty-one?

H: Right.

I: Okay. Did a local registrar ever turn you down when you applied to


H: No, never have.

FB 46A Bridges

Page 2

I: Okay. Um, have voter registration drives been held, uh, in Fort Walton

H: Right. We have a civic organization known as the Civic League, and

they have the NAACP. We put on different drives to encourage and also

to carry different individuals that have fot registered--to carry them

to the poles to register, you know, carry them to the registration

department. So we have a very active--very active part in Ft. Walton

Beach in putting on voter registrations and so forth.

I: Okay. In what years were those drives held?

H: Well--

I: Do you remember?

H: We'd-have--in-the last--I'd say, in the last ten years, for every year

we would have one.

I: Every year?

H: Every year, right.

I: Okay. How successful do you feel these voter registration drives were?

H: They--I believe they were very successful for this reason--because

yesteryear we found that actually quite a few of the blacks--I say in

the same local--did not take--did not care--did not take part in the

registration, due to the fact, :,They'd say, well--".They always make

this statement, say, they're for who they want in office and this type

of thing, you see. But really, after the thing move in a positive

direction, then as the blacks began to go in office, then it made a

different turn altogether now--a different outlook. So when you put

someone now, they're saying okay, how about let's go down to the

registration department. Say, yes, let's go. So actually when it

sets a positive approach--when you once find blacks going in office

all around and actually you could see that and plus your adults

FB 46A Bridges

Page 3

H: could see this. So normally, it really--it really meant something, and

not only this. And being in certain areas where your percentage was

such low as far as minority groups and the other groups were way higher

than a black person go in and so that made a very high dent in the

thing, too, you see.

I: Uh huh. Uh, were you the first black to run in Fort Walton?

H: In Fort Walton, the first black. I tried to run about four years ago,

before I was elected. I lost by thirty-five votes--thirty-five votes,

and then I was running in our ward at that particular time, and the

second go-around I went at-large. There's three spaces at large and

I selected one of them and I won. And I ran against a white male and

a white female and won. And you only, roughly, in Fort Walton, roughly

around about five percent minority groups. We have a' population

around about twenty-two thousand.

I: Uh huh.

H: So you can see from that. It really, you know that really sparked off,

not sparked off in Okaloosa County, it sparked off in Walton County,

just recently where a black elected over in Walton County.

I: Hmm.

H: And it's kind of joined us and this is really, I think--

I: What--what year was that?

H: Just this past election. They elected this past election Alvin

Campbell. He was elected over there.

I: What--in what city?

H: In Walton--that's in Defuniak Springs.

I: Okay.

H: Yeah Defuniak Springs. And that really--the city been probably wide

FB 46A Bridges

Page 4

H: one way over there--wide one way, but he won this past election.

I: Uh huh.

H: And the percentage is about the same there that we have over on this

area, you see.

I: Uh huh.

H: So it really, and at the same time, I think a person now, any voter, I

think they will look at the person and what he represents, what he

stands for and this type of thing, and when he go in there, and uh,

he'll pull the lever in that direction.

I: Uh huh.

H: And not only after you get in office. And I've found this to be true,

we'll the mayor appoint me in charge of a lot of committees. When he

find that you really can handle the thing and you can handle yourself,

you know what I mean? And it's been my philosophy --this, that uh, I

don't polarize anything one way. I say, okay, I'm here to serve all

the people. I make--when I make a decision, it's for the entire Fort

Walton Beach because anytime--anytime a black go into office the first

go around, you can really believe he better be on his "p's" and "q's"

because they gonna scrutinize. It will be scrutinized every decision

that you make and this is, I believe, this is one of the things that's

been a very important, tool in mine. I believe the next go-around I'll

go in by a landslide.

I: Uh huh.

H: Unless there's a change of politics, you never know, you know (laugh).

I: Yeah, yeah. (laugh) Are there any things that you know of which

prevent blacks from registering to vote, uh, in this area?

H: No. Not in this area here. In this area, it's very--everything is very

very flexible, and we have a lot of military retiring here. If you would

FB 46A Bridges

Page 5

H: take a percentage, why we got an influx of all locales here in Fort

Walton. So I would say in the area of Ft. Walton, in this county here,

you wouldn't have any problem with that at all.

I: Okay.

H: You wouldn't have any problem with that at all in Okaloosa County. I'm

really sure. Not in the other areas that I know in Walton County or

Escambia County, I don't think you'd have any problem.

I: Okay. We have here a short list of items which in the past and even

today in some areas, uh, have prevented blacks from registering to vote.

Uh, we'd like you to look at each item and then check whether you think

today whether it's very important, fairly important, or not important

at all in terms of preventing blacks from registering to vote, uh, in

this area. First of all, like have dependence on whites.

H: Uh huh. I would say that wouldn't have any effect on it. Uh uh.

I: Okay.

H: Still whites in this town are saying that wouldn't be not in this area here.

I: Okay. If you would check those.

H: Uh huh.

I: It couldn't, you reckon, having a dependence on whites, do you of know of

no instances where blacks felt that they had been, uh, coerced or threatened

in terms of, say, loss of job or anything like that?

H: No, the reason why I said that is you have in this area here, in Okaloosa

County, you have about five or six big contractors. And in order to get

to that plateau where they are now, they had to get the money to get

there. So what I'm saying, it wouldn't be the problem here. You

understand what I mean?

I: Uh huh.

FB 46A Bridges

Page 6

H: The pressurizing or anything like that. You won't have that.

I: Okay. Number three is complicated registration forms.

H: Uh uh. Alright, let me just say this, okay. Even I have noticed this.

Suppose you carry a black there that couldn't read or write They always

let you-someone go in there with the person. They always very--they've

been very helpful.

I: Uh huh.

H: Uh, most all has been very helpful. And on the polls there, we have

some black representation on the polls.

I: I see.

H: Yeah.

I: Poll watchers.

H: Yeah, right.

I: Uh huh. Also in helping to register.

H: Register, too, right.

I: Okay. How about poor registration hours?

H: No, I'll tell you what actually happened in this case. We usually call

Mrs. Garrett down, and she has been able to come in on Saturdays--on

Saturday and open up the books. One of our civic centers. And we

get some of these high school teachers to assist her in that.

I: Uh huh.

H: So it's--we try to make it convenient for them.

I: Uh huh.

H: Whether the hours or working or this type of thing so you wouldn't

have that problem.

I: Okay. How about registration not help often enough? (A/ 2q AA
H: I think probably there again, that we, probably that could be improved--

that we would need that--that's a very important thing. I think we

FB 46A Bridges

Page 7

H: should have it more--more often. Because then this civic club--well, if

they put it on the TV and the newspaper and the radio AAL 5;6O1

It would be available at such and such a place and this type of thing and

I think that probably this is one of the assets, because you don't have

that line of communication out. And I think that would be very important

here in this area.

I: Okay.

H: Yeah.

I: How often is it held now, the registration?

H: I think that you can go there anytime up to a certain point before the

election takes place. You know, if you just walk in and want to register

after you've been in the particular county the required number of months

and this type of thing until a certain point when they'll--when you

qualify or something else cut-off date. But the lines of communication

are kind of dull. That's why I say, put it on the radio so you encourage.

I think they should come from Mrs. Garrett's office, you know.

I: Uh huh.

H: The same length of time she'd run a Olg- on the newspapers, send out

a communication to the churches, and all this type of thing. I think

this would really help. It would reduce a lot of the work on our civic

group, you see. But I think they just say, okay, you just walk in here.

You know the books are here so come in here and this type of thing.

I: Yeah.

H: But I think that's a very important thing that a lot of communication,

more advertising. I think would be really--

I: Okay.

H: I think that's very important.

I: Okay.

FB 46A Bridges

Page 8

H: In the schools and all.

I: In connection with five, uh, how about the effects of re-registration.

That is, in some cases if you don't vote for two years in a row, your
names are* taken off the registration roster. Has that been a

problem, do you feel, in the black community or with blacks.

H: Well--

I: Maybe of not voting and then lost their registration.

H: Well, you know, normally, the most of, I'll say this--the most of them

in our area here. We use i5l"J S4" on that thing and we use--we

can--we have a list of addresses when they move, where they're moving,

and all. We have a secretary to keep up with this type of thing. So

normally, we don't have that problem. But I can see that type of

problem existing in a bigger city.

I: Uh huh.

H: If you would have that type of problem. It's not where you would have

too good of control over it, you see.

I: Yes.

H: With the things we have, we have very very good control because either

they're going to some civic organization. You get so many there. And

all your churches. You get so many there so normally, from you businesses

and your churches and also your community activities, you would be able

to keep a handle on it in an area where we are--in Ft. Walton, you see.

1: I see.

H: But I can see now like a place like Miami or a bigger city, you would

have a problem with that.

I: Uh huh.

H: Yeah.

I: Finally, uh, indifference of blacks to voting s that been a factor

FB 46A Bridges

Page 9

I: which has sort of prevented blacks from registering--general apathy or


H: No. No, not here. Usually this would vary, but that wouldn't have any

effect in this area. I wouldn't be a bit surprised in this next election

coming up. You re gonna have someone running for all the county offices

in this particular area. It's been like I said before, in this particular

area, it's been very very--it's on an even keel, such as a person wanting

to run and wanting to qualify and this type of thing. Let me give you

a typical example. Dkay, in my campaign, I spent roughly around about

$2,500. '"Avd out of $2,500 I spent, most of that was contributed to me

by whites.

I: Uh huh.

H: And this is the, you know, actually I--this would probably tell you--

really point something to you and by professional people.

I: Yeah.

H: When I received that in there.

I: Okay, so blacks really, uh, are not very apathetic pertaining to getting

out to vote and registering?

H: No. No. No, they're not. They really have a drive, and I think that,

you know, yesteryears, uh, a black child could be brought into society--

well, I can't be anything but a preacher or a teacher or something like

that. But really, when1the front image exists there, and normally the

blacks really started moving office, this type of thing, then you can

have a different type of dream that he could really foresee someone

that's really in this thing. He says, now it's altogether different.

Do you understand me?

I: Uh huh.

H: Different ballgame now. Whereas in the yesteryear, he had to have one

FB 46A Bridges

Page 10

H: type of dream to be one thing--one or two things--a preacher or a

teacher or something like that. But now it's all a different batZgame

altogether--that he can see really, his group going into different

type of things and this type of thing and different type of law offices.

Not only in politics but in all other types of offices.

I: Okay. Good. So I guess you felt that was not important?

H: Yeah, :.'

I: As well. Okay. We have a few questions that we wanted to ask you about

your election, uh, campaigns, uh, here in Ft. Walton Beach.

H: Uh huh.

I: First of all, were you able to campaign freely? That is, were you

threatened in any way? Did you receive threats?

H: No, I didn't receive the first threatening call. I really didn't-not

the first one.

I: Uh huh. Uh huh.

H: And uh, in my closing article that I placed in the paper, I said, uh,

Ft. Walton can feet proud of itself that a black man can run for an

office and race not being an issue. That's my-that's the last state-

ment that I put in the newspaper. I didn't receive the first threaten-

ing call.

I: Uh huh.

H: Sure didn't. As a matter of fact, I had, well, just as many whites

working in my campaign as blacks.

I: Uh huh.

H: Working in my campc.ip I really did.

I: In terms of campaign money, I guess you said you'd received most of your

donations from the whites?

.H: Yeah, from white, right. Most of it from them.

4, 46A Bridges

Page ZZ

I: Was that true when you first ran?

H: No, it wasn't true when I first ran. You know, well, if something else

follow a trend too f VMW0ff you know, normally, I've been in this

particular area roughly around about twenty years here in Ft. Walton.

And I was a principal on the outside before I accepted this job. And

I reckon that probably was some serving assets to me, you know? People

knowing you, say, well, how fould he act. Well, what would be his

reaction in this thing? When is he getting that?

Z: Right.

H: I imagine all this play a part in my election. It had to play a part,

you know.

I: Uh huh.

H: So in the first go-around-well, normally uh, well, I believe in raising

my own money. Okay, I had a campaign manager. We put on fish fries,

car washes, and this type of thing, but I don't think we had enough

money at the time. We only had around about $600.00--about $600.00.

We'd hit the newspapers--didn't hit TV as much. It wasn 't exposed

there as-too much. I think that was one reason why I didn't pick up

the other thirty-five votes.

I: Uh huh.

H: But I did not receive the--any contribution too much from the whites at

that particular time, but I got around about $150.00 or $200.00. And

uh, you could say, well, probably you lost the thirty-five votes. Well
probably that C 4e
probably that say okay, this person might get this thing and

it s going to run. I better try to get on the winning side or something

like that.

I: Uh huh.

H:. But I'm willing to keep that as one of the main issues being it. I

fRB 46A Bridges

Page 12

H: think that, uh, the main thing that-you gotta be known in politics.

You gotta be known when you come out and run. You gotta be known and

then not only that--the different issues that are put forth in front of

you, you gotta make sure you digest those things and come up with

something that probably-once that particular thing is analyzed and

all. They can see this thing is for everybody. You'll really-I.

have some questions put to me. You really--you really gotta throw your

brains in here sometimes before you throw mouth in here, before -you

answer that question because you can blow it.

I: Uh huh.

H: And this type of thing. You really gotta scrutinize it, you see, because

there are certain people out in the audience to shoot questions that

are waiting for a response. If you respond the wrong way and this type

of thing, it really can blow the whole thing. But I think behind my

election here, my being in office, and I hope that I'm doing a good

job. Normally, the other blacks that come in behind you, the road will

be paved for them. I think you will see more. I'm willing to show them

the next go-around here. You gonna see more come in the city government,

trying to go into the kind-of government and this type of thing.

I: Uh huh. Why did you decide to run for office?

H: Okay. You know, well, I've been involved in quite a few of a civic

organizations, such as, you name it, I've been a part of it. Number

one, the uh, T'he-.e:bezn'a member of the, uh, Boy's Club aryear, the Boy

Scouts, Board of Red Cross Directors, and the uh Civic League, the NAACP,

just about every one, and the--your city governments springs around your

entire community, you see. And I thought for probably, for some of my

expertise, that I might be able to helping formulating some of the

policies in doing this type of thing in the city. I could see different

FB 46A Bridges

Page 13

H: things that probably we need to look into, that we need to do for the

city of Ft. Walton. We could--I thought I could mend some of my

training into the:-.government. And I felt the same thing that, uh, that

you needed--not-you needed a black on there. Not necessarily to serve

the black, but you need a mixed thing, and you get--that's the way we

really grow--by having different viewpoints of things. You understand

how I feel. I understand how you feel, and this type of thing, and

from this you can come.up with something. You can make better policies

as far as the overall community, you see. But when you have one MY,

well, you might listen to me when I come down, but you never know, okay

you're wrapped around a big table with me and you can help me make the

decision, where not if Z______ black) looks at everybody that

brings that brings this in, but probably be a part of them, you see.

I: Uh huh.

f: This type of thing.

I: Uh huh. Okay.

H: And from this point, I felt, that a problem I really wanted to get in,

and I--not only by that same token, I felt that probably-- Well, I'm

not blowing a horn, but I'm really sure in this particular area that uh,

that I'm probably one of the ones, probably, but has been able to be

elected by knowing and being a part of different certain groups and

they know me. Okay, I feel if I could break the ice and get in there

and do a good job, I would unlock the door--unlock the door for other,

some more minorities want to come in and run this, and do a good job,

and this type of thing.

I: Okay. To what political organization to you belong, party organizatioN?

H: Democrat.

I: Did you ever receive any help from the Democratic party in terms of your

FB 46A Bridges

Page. 14

I: campaigns?

H: No, I didn't, uh uh.

I: No?

H: Uh uh.

I: What were the two or three most important issues, uh, upon which you


K: Okay. Well, we have-izn Ft. Walton, number one, we have a big problem as

such as the drainage problem. All right. This is number one in Ft.

Walton. Number two, was the recreation. We needed a wider spread of

recreation that's in the--all of different areas where you have your

bulk of your population living. And last but not least, and the problem

you might say that one should be first, but actually, I'm just saying--

I'm just naming them as far as drainage is number one and uh, the

recreation is number, and number three was the, uh, was the slums--

clearing up of slums, you know. WeZZ, I'm not talking about only in

the blacks, but we have slums in the white, and this is one of my main

things. Okay, let's get behind some of these federal programs that we

can come in there and get rid of these substandard homes, and place

these kids and their family in a better home that is conducive to

education. And it would also change the rot which we hear the kids

&- i but those are the three main things. But on that one--on

that one thing, when I said slums, uh, it really was a kind of a little

sew-up, because the average voter would think I was thinking only of the

blacks, you understand?

I: Uh huh.

f: Because in the Ft. Walton Beach area you have a particular area been

designated as this But I was able to put it over to the

people that I was concerned about all because you have some whites who

are living in certain areqs of subtqandard hoTe. And after I got into

FB 46A Bridges

Page 15

H: office, to go a little further, we developed a committee and we got on

this--we had a man there from the, uhj Federal Housing to it, and

we really got on the ball with this thing. And today we have 126 units

of low ffTe and we have cleared out the sums on the point as well as

the blacks. We have the white and blacks living in the low rental pro-

jects. Some have been able to move through there and go on and buy a

home, and this type of thing. So those are the three things that I

really hit on, and I--as far as the, uh, water and sewage, we've been

able to do a tremendous amount of--on that. We've been able to get

federal money. It didn't cost the taxpayers anything, and uh, because

we had some streets there, when it would rain, overflood. If a person

have a heart attack, you couldn't get an ambulance up in the street.

We have a helicopter. So we thought-I thought that was a tremendous

thing to move in and direct it. And the recreation--we built more tennis

courts, more little league softball, baseball courts, and this type of

thiTg. And I reckon we rre in the process of building a recreation building

at the present time.

I: Uh huh.

i: Those are three more major things that I really hit on. I think they

were the most pressing things that were needed in Ft. Walton at the


I: Okay. Do you think that those were also the main problems facing blacks

in Ft. Walton?

H: -eah, well, let me say this. I know, number one, was the substandard

homes, you know. And we had a drainage problem. The ditchds wasn't

closed. Mosquitoes and all this type of thing. Well, you had it all

in the city, but in the predominant black area, well, you had the more

or less substandard homes. Well, we ran a survey on that to give you

FB. 46A Bridges

Page 16

H: a little foZlow-up that normally the average person who lived in the

slum area, they probably--you could take a family--take about nine or

ten families, before they'd moved out in a place that was conducive to

live in. Well, the chances of a drop-out was greater, and I'm doing a

study now. Okay, comparing, particularly in the black area, okay, the

members in the family, and the number of rooms:was in the home they were

living in, in the ghetto, probably in the substandard home, we should say.

I: Uh huh.

1: Checking educational level of the family, and the children-how far

they go, and this type of thing. Now we're going back and taking a

three-year look at these kids since they've been a--probably a three or

four bedroom, how many have dropped out, how far do they continue on

in school. We're comparing the they earned over here compared to the

grades they earned over -'here and this type of thing. It s going to

really really be something, and we 've done a study on it, and.noe&wwe 're

sharing with the committee so we should have that thing ready before

the year's over.

I: Uh huh.

H: But I plan to get it to the papers there where the taxpayers can see it,

because when I first cranked this up, they said/h Wit/4 e' S C?;{'

WellZ, you can see why I say, well, you go in an area, build these homes,

and you go back a year after that, and you find the windows or doors
kicked out, just like/ghetto, you see. But we really went a little

farthur than that. We tried to place a gate up to the barn before we

put the mule in there, you know. So we organized a family--what you

call a family management course--that the father and the mother went

to prior to moving into the low-rental projects. We had the banker to

come in. We had the food service department to come in. We had the

FB 46A Bridges

Page 2?

H: janitorial service to come in, and we gave each one a certificate

behind this. So when they once move out of the ghetto and move in

an area where they have never been exposed to new furniture, taking

care of a floor, 79 4ea("r/ this, going to pay for food, and all

this type of thing, they knew what to do in thosedituaiions. So that

place looked just like it did from the first day that they moved in


I: Uh huh.

H: We have a director of it, yeah.

I: Who sponsored this survey, by the way? Was that through the city?

H: No, uh, matter of fact, it was through the counselors of different

schools. We had some of the counselors of different schools require

these kids attending school.

I: I see.

H: And they're the-all the student counselors. That's who we are working

with this thing, =;5 4/&7 me on it.

I: Okay.

H: Yeah.

I: The next section, we have just a few questions to ask you about, uh, the

elections in which you ran dealing with sort of into the voting, how it

went in certain areas.

H: Uh huh.

I: You were elected--you said the first time you ran, you ran, uh, by ward--

H: Right.

I: For the second time at-large.

H: Uh huh.

I: And you won when you ran at-large?

I: At-4arge. Okay, it's the same difference of the same area. It's a funny

F- 46A Bridges

Page 18

H: thing, and I don't understand. I've been fighting that thing, asking why

do they have wards because everybody vote on you, although you run in a'

ward, but they vote city-wide.

I: Uh huh.

H: Then they have four in a ward, and three at-large, but yet it's still

although you run at-large, everybody in the other wards can vote.

I: Uh huh.

H: So they just have it made it up like that.

I: Why do they, do--?

H: Well, I really-it's a once upon a time-now, once upon a time, they had--

okay, everybody knew a ward could only vote on you. And I can see the

reason behind that.

I: Yeah.

H: Because, okay, here the person "bg in in another ward, but the people in

this ward might want this person, you see. But I don't-but it's not

curved any way to--to curtail anyone because you have blacks in every

ward. Do you understand me? In every ward you have blacks in every

ward. But they just--it's been a form of the government where they
have the different wards and uh,/tet everybody vote on everybody, you see.

I: Uh huh. Okay. How many people, uh, well, how many people were in your

ward when you ran?

H: Was in the ward? I would say roughly, in my ward, I would say rough,

just taking a guess off the top of my head, roughly around about, I'd

say around about 2,000 or 3,000.

I: Okay.

IH: Was in my ward, but there again, you know, everybody's voted on you.

I: Yeah.

H: Regardless of at large. I~ ~.Ldy z., 1- ward. Everybody's voted on

you, the same as you were running at large.

FB 46A Bridges

Page 19

I: Okay. And the percent of black, you said, in the city, generally, is

uh, would you say about, five?

H: I say around about five percent. I think in the entire county you have

roughly around about eight point something. I say roughly around about

five percent in Ft. Walton Beach. It's the bulk of your population is

out on the side t

I: About what percentage of blacks of voting age do you feel have registered

to vote in the city?

f: Do you mean of the eighteen-year-olds? What percent of them?

I: Yeah. Eighteen and over.

H: I would say roughly we have, roughly, around about, I weuld say around

about thirty-five or forty percent. I know we have that all over, but

forty percent of it.

I: Of those who are eligible?

H: Eligible, right, who are ready to vote. It might be a close fifty. It

might be a close fifty because we have an influx of people coming in,

staying a required time who still have not been informed about this

type of thing. So I would say about fifty percent. It might could be


I: Okay. About what percentage of blacks who are registered to vote do you

think actually voted when you were elected?

H: Okay, I would say about half. I would say about hhlf of them. That's dwX

I would say around about fifty percent of those that were /1ks w^ r ch~f

who really went out to vote.

I: Okay.

H: You know, it's a trend. It's a funny thing in an election, you know,

okay, there are a certain number of people gonna goto 'r- the poll

regardless whether you ask them or not. There are another certain

percent won't go unless you ask them. And there's another certain

FB 46A Bridges

Page 20

H: percent that, uh, the people wtll not-not going anyway. See, this is

where there's a trend of--

I: Uh huh.

H: It's a funny thing. I don't know who gonna make a survey on this thing

you know. People just in the Ah i r like that, you know. Because I

know, okay, I went to a home and she said, if you hadn't stopped by and

asked me to go to vote, I wouldn't have gone.

I: UH huh.

H: Then you stop by some more, and they say, well, I was going anyway. You

didn't have to come by here.

I: Uh huh.

H: Then you got that portion that's undecided. They gonna still be undecided

at 7:00 when the polls close. They'll still be undecided.

I: Then I guess you have another group that's not even registered.

H: Yeah. So this is true.

I: Okay. Unm, do you feel that most of those who voted, voted for you?

H: Well, I would say the majority of them. You gonna still have some

that gonna vote against you because as far as--well, you usually have

this trend in a life. Okay, regardless what step you get on, you have

people that say, well, you know, I just don't like him you know. Or

I don't like $w L i u knw. But I'ZZ

say this, by and large, I believe I got over-way over half. I was

well over half of the black folk.

I: Uh huh.

H: I got way over half of it.

I: Okay.

f: Yeah.

I: You obviously then, got a lot of votes from whites,

FB 46A Bridges

Page 21

f: Yeah, I would say ninety percent.

I: Ninety percent of your votes came from whites?

H: Wetl, I'd say about ninety percent.

I: And how many opponents did you have, say in the first time you ran and-

f: Well, the first time around, I lost by thirty-five votes.

I: And how many opponents?

H: I had one.

I: Just one opponent?

H: One opponent. And the next time at largg I had two. Okay, and I had to

have a run-off. I got into a run-off with one of the candidates. Okay,

that was because I didn't get the required percentage of the votes. Of

the three of us, I didn't get the required percentage. And the--I went

out in front roughly around about 100 and some votes.

I: Uh huh.,

H: And so in the next go-around, I went out in front around about 200 and

something, in the runoff.

I: Uh huh.

H: So evidently, my opponent's votes went to me. Evidently they came on

my side. That was a trend that was followed.

I: Okay. What percent of the total vote, then, did you get? Do you remember?

When you won?

H: Let me see. I believe-I'll say this, I think I got roughly around about

out of, uh, I think out of the 22,000 this really, and we'd really been

hammering on this thing. And like in a city election, if you get out

of 22,000 voter eligible, not 22,000 but roughly around about 10 or 15,000

registered voters. And we've been getting around about 25,300 in a city


1: Uh huh.

H: And out of that, I'd say I palled roughly around about, 'd .s around qbout

FR 46A, Bridges

Page 22

H: 16 or 1700.

I: Okay.

H: 16 or 1700 out of the--

I: Out of 2500, uh, percent.

H: Yeah.

I: Okay. Uh, the last section and actually it's a major section, is to

determine how well blacks have been able to benefit those they represent

as councilmen. And the first question I wanted to ask you is, in what

ways do you think you have helped blacks in your area by holding office?

H: Okay.

I: Now you 'e mentioned a few things already.

H: All right. Yeah, well, there was some jobs we did not have blacks in.

Number one, we didn't have someone in the fire department. We didn't

have someone in personnel and this type of thing, and uh, from that we

have been able to bring in some people in personnel. We have been able

to bring in some people in the fire department. It has been my philosophy

that I believe on this, that uh, that we should have godd training

program, in-house training program. Whether he's white or whether he's

black, I don't feel that we should just put someone in office just to

be putting someone in office. Do you understand me? But by the same

token, I think that we should set up different training, in-house

training programs to--where an abler person--well, he could go into

this training program--into the training program and go on into that

particular job. You understand me?

I: Uh huh.

H: That is--we don't have this particular thing to draw from the schools or

outside if you've not recruited people, and try to produce your own in

your own area. Then set up different training programs where that

'B. 46A Bridges

Page 23

H: person go through the training program and move on into that type of

thing. Now we also have been able, since I've been in office, to move

different blacks I to start to read meters, water

meters inside the city. We didn't have that before. Okay, we had to

move people up as an inspector inside the city.

I: Uh huh.

H: Which we didn't have that before. That's after I tookioffice. Well, you

might say, well, how did this come about? Okay, you know according to

the vil (jghts egest, anytime a particular city or municipality

receiving federal funds, you're supposed to come up with your work force

in your certain work area, like all right, you got your fire department,

police department, water and sewer department. You must come up with

that required percent that's on the outside, whereas before, they hadn't

looked at that. You know what I mean?

I: Uh huh.

H: I said let's do our homework while we got a chance to do it. And so

from that, today I just got through working out the percentages to give

you a--this thing just hit at the same time. I just--all right--I just

got through working out the percentages of our total work force of the

city. All right, in the administrative department, we only have one,

and we have out of the total of twenty-two come to about 4.6 streets,

we have six out of fifty-one, about 12%. In the police department, we

have several in there. We have one black lieutenant.

I: Uh huh.

H: Fifty in all. About fourteen in the fire department. We have one there.

Around about three percent in park and recreation. And we've got nine

out of a total of fifty-six or sixteen percent in the inspector of houses,

around about one to twenty. Utilities, one to nine or eleven. Sanitation,

MB 46A Bridges

Page 24

H: that's where you have your blue collar-mostly blue collar workers there.

I: Uh huh.

H: You have nineteen out of forty-five. We have forty-two percent. Then

in the cemetery and library we have both twenty-seven out of-fourteen.

So, what I'm saying, you can see, we're looking pretty good in that-not

only in the administrative part of it. Now I'm working on that to try

to bring in an assistant finance director and this type of thing. That's

where we got to really pick up in because a blue collar worker going to

take care of himself. And uh, this hadn't happened before I got in there,

you see, Because, well, normally, now any time you accepting this federal

money, you got to abide by the law. This is not something that, okay,

that not only by me just being in office. I could be a--just a lay

citizen come in and ask you, okay, what are you doing in this area?

Okay, here is what the law says of what you should be doing. You are

not doing that, you see. But, really, we got on the ball and got into

that type of thing before this thing happened. Because you got some

of those boys that really come around, the NAACP the civic league.

They're really t-yrn on this thing, you see. And that's why I keep

A/ / P 'ev _. C --I keep abreat of that thing. Why

because they hitting on me about it.

I: Uh, what's the percentage of black in the town?

H: I say roughly you got around about eight point, about 8.5 or something

like that.

I: Okay. And about how much--many of the elderman are black?

K: The elderman here?

I: Oh, I wouldn't know exactly that. I wouldn't know exactly. I would think

probably-I be kind of-somewhat afraid to say, but I could call up

social action and find out. Before you leave, I can get it for you.

I: I see.

FB46A Bridges

Page 25

H: Yeah.

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

especially in regard to benefiting blacks in Ft. Walton?

H: Not anything. You know, as I said before, normally, I think a person

should look at this thing. Now where in the-okay, you take in our

area now, okay, some twenty years ago, that-now regardless of how much

money you had, probably you couldn't go and buy on the beach. You couldn't

go and do this. You understand me?

I: Uh huh.

H: Because of the laws. But now, everything that happens in our city there-

it's like a polka dot thing. Now the blacks are living in all areas.

You understand me?

I: Uh huh.

H: So what I'm saying is this-that every decision that you make within that

city--now you got to look in terms of the whole thing. But now, I could

see, probably like yesteryears, you had your one set area over here and

this type of thing, now, you see. But they're living in every area

there now. But to come back to answer your question, I don't think

anything, no pressure or anything like that has been brought to bear on

me by not doing something and not being able to help them--nothing like

that has been brought to bear since I've been in office.

I: Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay. We have a few factors which in some cases have-

has prevented councilmen from doing a better job, uh, benefiting blacks.

We'd like to have you, again, check whether you think, uh, it's very

important, fairly important, or not important, in terms of preventing

you from doing a better job for blacks.

H: All right. Uh huh.

I: First of all, the affinity has no real authority. Do you think that -

FB 46A Bridges

Page 26

I: that has prevented you from doing a better job?

H: Uh uh.

I: No?

H: No, and to give you a little response. Okay, now, normally, if you, okay,

Itm the chairman of a committee. I've been chairman around about five or

six committees and the chairman has a lot of power, you know? And that's

really good out of the number of committees that've been appointed,

compared to how many you have MTel.l-, if :you have seven other councilmen--

I: Uh huh.

H: Seven of us in all. And so it really--I have more of them is coming on

my side when I get up to give my pitch about something and this type of
thing, when compared to some more of my comrades. They side with me with

the issues that I-that I really bring forth. Do you understand me?

I: Uh huh.

H: So normally, in the offices, this is real authority If I call the city

manager and say, hey, I got a call from a citizen. How about

going up there and checking this thing. They have somebody check this

out and give me a call back. Well, __ __ __ _ __ this phone

will ring, and he call and says it's been checked out since this thing

happened. Banm It's taken care of.

I: Uh huh.

H: So I really have no quarrel there.

I: Okay. How about being outvoted by white officials? Has that been a-

H: No, that hasn't been a factor, you know, in this thing. But I had a

lot of times, as;l said before, okay, that I have some of them come and

vote with me on this. Then again, they see it the other way, but I've

never been out there standing alone by myself on any issue I bring up.

I: Okay.

M, 46A Bridges

Page 27

H: That's what I did. I never had--I'll always have where they might been

out and voted, but I'll still have two more. It always have been two

on my side. Or maybe something like it.

I: How about number three, not enough revenue available?

H: No, we have, in the city of Ft. Walton Beach, our budg,:t is a $5,000,000

budget. And here, we're on a pay-as-you-go base. -YOu don't find that in

too many cities.

I: Uh huh.

H: On a pay-as-you-go base. Now in all departments, we. have a very good

budget, and we go back and amend this budget from time to time as the

year '1 go by as things-different things pop up, we got to increase this

or move over here to do this. The revenue we come to-it's really good.

I: So that's no problem?

H: No problem, uh uh.

I: Okay. How about being unfamiliar with administrative duties? Did that

hamper you at all?

H: No, and in the uh, in our form government, we have a city manager form

of government.

I: Uh huh.

H: In Ft. Walton Beach. Our mayor is honorary. So matter of fact, the

city manager, he is the boss,, He house the department head. Okay, he's

responsible direct to us. We, excuse me, we hire him. We hire the city

manager,.and the city attorney, and the administrative assistant-

financialy director in other words. But the city manager will usually

run the city. Now being familiar with about eighty of each one of us,

uh, all the codes of Ft. Walton Beach. They give one of these to the

By-laws and we get a copy of these books, you know.

I: Uh huh.

FB 46A Bridges

Page 28

H: And uh, any time any special issue is coming up, okay, all you got to

do is go back and if you have a /0C in your mind, go back and dig

it up. You know, you have the access. If you have this right in your

home. So you can bone up on these things to be prior to going in and

meeting wherever you're speaking and you speak very intelligently about

this, you see. So you have the access to all the administrative working

of the city.

I: Okay.

H: Because we have from time to time, different people coming in for *4____

Different people wanting this changed or that changed and when it come

forth, you'll know what they're talking about because you know what

ordinance cover this thing and that thing and we get agenda. See, we

get this agenda about a week in-about three or four days in advance

before it happens.

I: Uh huh.

H: All you got to do is pull your book out, and compare the things and: go

through it. Now from time to time, we do have, say people, that are not

able to get on the agenda might come in there and ask a question and this

type of thing, but out of a two-year period, you normally will know this.

You are kind of in on the working of the thing then. From time to time

you'll have to go back and refer for things.

I: Okay.

H: LThat is something very important. You got to know this thing because, if

not, somebody'll shoot you down on it. You got to-when you speak up,

you got to know. Quoting certain articles to show you know what you're

talking about because he know what's happening.

I: Okay. How about lack of cooperation from whites? Is not that factor?

K: No, that's no factor. That's no factor. I received good cooperation.

F]. 46A Bridges

Page 29

H: I've been invited out to the--I spoke to the Democratic Women's

Association about a week ago--the League of Women Voters. They give

me an invitation to be on their program as a special guest.

I: Uh huh.

H: So this is a-very, well, very good working relationship. No problem at

all in that--no problem.

I: Okay. How about lack of cooperation from blacks? I~-S n7 .' ?

H: No, that's no problem because, normally, you know, well, I have lots of,

I'll say, way over fifty percent of the cooperation from the blacks. I

have that. So we don't have that problem.

I: State officials--lack of cooperation from state officials?

H: No, from time to time. I imagine we receive pretty good cooperation

from them because--take Jerry Melvin, he's our presentative X rc-t

and Fortune is our senator here. From time to time, we invite them

into our meetings. We want certain things to-we like to look into

certain things over in Tallahassee and uh, they usually respond to

that. They usually respond to that. And personally, I can call Jerry

Melvin over the phone. I can call Ed Fortune-O-. f /1i; --

End of Side 1- FB 46A

-.: A k\ ?"

f4, v ^ ^ ^-f 'c
H.:~tLd~, l
t~ e~/

FB 46A AJ7a "r Br idgesfi^f /kc / d^y#

Page 302 Pr7 c

Side 2 The beginning othey want, yu kw. They mit sa, wat d they nee

H: think when I first went in office, this might have been one of the

trends. Okay.

I: Uh huh.

H: That normally I say, well, okay, if some blacks and they

say, what do they want, you know. They might say, what do they need

him for. Now-but, I think with my front image that I've been able

to portray since Iupe been there. I've been able to fade this thing

away. You following what I'm saying.

I: Uh huh.

H: Because, now I don't only speak out when some blacks are there. I speak

out when whites are there. And I think this si the way to disband this

type of thing, you know what I'm saying. We see that this really gets

out of your other comrades minds if they had it in their minds, you see.

And in our city alderman, we have more-very-I would say very seldom we

have some black representation at every meeting there. It's only when

some issue come up then normally it'see there. Now we have had from time

to time some blacks coming down just to sit in the meeting. But and I

try to encourage them to come down more. We don't have the right parti-

cipation that we should-you know, that's coming down just to listen to

what's going on and what's happening in our city and this type of thing.

But coming back to the question, I think I've been able to somewhat curtail

this thing jy-because, okay, when some citizen out t there ask a question
d deesJCh h i a a v
&Fay, _33T mayor accept that en hegive h ad eery pne of the

commission time to speak) /a..-igiB a on him to

speak to that particular question. Well, I try to really get off in the

front running on this thing, you see. When I first went in-there, I try

FB 46A Bridges

Page 31

H: to get off in the front running. And that was erased, so now, I don't

think anyone, any of my comrades expect me to answer to them. You know,

as far--okay, there's some blacks here now, what they--what problem they

got here. Now you speak to that problem.

I: I see.

H: Because my front'image is this. I told them before, you know. I want to-

I'm serving all of you. You know what I mean?

I: Yeah.

H: I'm elected by the people--the white, he or she has a problem. They come

in and with a black--they have a problem-same identical thing.

I: Yeah. Okay.

H: But I think in a lot of towns--now I don't know, I've heard this. In a

lot of your-some more of the cities, I heard this. Not knowing it-that

they expect, you know, this person to do this for this, you know.

I: Yeah.

H: But I don't think that's the way it should be. It should be that a white

should speak the particular issue& If he's an elected official, he should

know what's the problem existing in all that community. He should get

around and go around and find out and meet groups and all. When the

people come in there and he can speak from any Ad this

is the way it should be.

I: Yeah.

H: To serve all. Yeah, that's the way it should be.

I: Do you ever-do you ever get any criticism from the black community in

terms of, say, some blacks who perceive that you really only a token and--

H: Well, the only criticism that I receive is this, and you will receive that--

that you are not doing enough.

I: Uh huh.

F] 46A Bridges

Page 32

H: This is a big thing. That you are not doing enough, you see. When I say

doing enough, I mean this-putting different blacks in different jobs.
This will really be your key thing. One come to you and say okay, I

want a job. He feels that I should just call the city manager and tell

him to go down-go down to the city manager's office and start working,

But the system don't operate like that. You know, it's lack of knowing

the system, you see.

I: Uh huh.

H: But this is the only criticism, more or less, that I receive. And I think

this applies to every black official in any area where he is. You're not

doing enough to put us in different types of jobs and this type of thing.

This is the key. This is the main thing that I have received and I know

my other comrade up here in Crestview, Allen--

I: Yeah. Yeah.

H: Yeah now, I can hear his rumbling in.-the jungle, too. Look how much he

has done up there. But anyway, you are not doing enough. You are not

doing enough. You got to see that you got other voters ** he

_tS&33 come up there. If you don't use some expertise to swing these

other voters with you. Hell, you could stay in there twenty years and

not do a damn thing. You know what I mean?

I: Yeah.

H: Because you got those. But still you got to have the cooperation of all.

That's the main criticism of blacks, a politicians would ay.

I: Uh huh. Allen had said that-fiAC(efy0C'e, Ai & f& acd-mentioned

that he had tried to get blacks to join the sanitation department or the

police force or the fire department and they didn't want to up there

but that some came down here.

BR 46A Bridges

Page 33

K: Yeah.

I: Why would that be?

H: I don't know. No, I--I, you know, I questioned that and I'm getting--

I don't know. I really don't know and now, I couldn't understand why

a person would, uh, unless the pay scale, and the pay scale should be

about the same and uh--

I: Yeah, he thought it was about the same.

H: Yeah, well I couldn't conceive of how a person would drive and spend--

how high gas is now-coming down here to work and this type of thing,

but anyway, I really don't know, but uh--

I: Okay, I was just-I just thought you may know.

H: Yeah. Yeah. Uh huh.

I: You'd mentioned a number of services that you felt you'd been able to

provide, uh, to blacks since you took office. We have again a short

checklist, and some of these will apply and some may not, but-and

some you've commented on already. We'd like you to rate those in

terms of how effective you think you've been in each of those areas.

since you took office.

H: I think I've been very effective in the police protection.

I: Okay.

H: But from that I uh, okay, we'll put on probably, well not only blacks,

we've added about six or seven additional since I've been in office.

We've bought cars. We went back and added more funds over in the police

department due to we receive a certain amount of tourists here every

summer, you know, and this type of thing and we really need a lot of

protection, and so-- I think I've been very effective as far as the

police protection is concerned. And I think on the streets and the roads

I"'ve been somewhat effective because, okay, we have not been able to correct

FB 46A Bridges

Page 34

H: all the things that we really wanted to correct in this street and road,

but we are on the road in doing that now. We have a budget set aside

and we getting-receiving this urban renewal money, you know. They once

was over here with the state, now they sending it to the cities, and we

budget out. We coming up with certain--setting up certain priorities now

where we can use this stuff. So I think in the street department--street

and roads, that'll be somewhat effective there. And in housing, I think

I have been very effective in that. To give you a little background,

okay, in the low rental housing area, I spent-I went two or-let me

see, two or three trips up at, uh, up at Atlanta in getting this thing

through. We started having some hangups on this things so they got it

through now. We're in the process of building fifty more units for

senior citizens in our particular here.

I: Uh huh.

H: So normally, we have almost moved all of the white and also the blacks

out 6f the areas that are probably was in substandard homes. And place

them in a very conducive home. I think we've been very effective in

getting the--as far a housing.

I: Okay.

H: Now in the welfare, here, and I have been very critical of this department.

And I have received some, uh, some criticism from some of my people about

this, but let me give you a little of the background on welfare--what my

feelings toward this, okay. And what we're trying to do in Ft. Walton--

we're trying to work with the division of family services. I feel like

this: if a person, and I'm speaking of blacks and white--I'm not--I put

them in one bag, if a person is able to work, I think that person, if he

is in our city municipality, I think that we should try to provide a job

for him to work, whether he's black or whether he's white. Now, okay.

FRB 46A Bridges

Page 35

H: Because it's not-I haven't made a study 6f this thing, but I hope one

day somebody would. That'll show me a family that came up on welfare--

that probably was-they were able to work, and didAn.t work but you

provide them with all these services without working. I mighty afraid

this thing would rub on off into their offspring--into the offspring.

You understand?

I: Uh huh.

H: Because I feel this is a way of life. I feel this is a way of life. This

type of thing. Where if you didn't move a person out of substandard home-

put in some conducive home, he'd never knew that existed. Now he has a

Bit of-better values of this thing. And the same way about this. Now,

if a person is not able to work, I say, yes. I'm for it all the way

down. That's black and white, and I'm for it all the way down the line.

I: Uh huh.

H: But now on that particular point, then I say I'm against that if he's

able to work. And I think in an article in the newspapers somewhere in

the state of Florida, they were ceallg:cracking down on welfare. It

was in--it was headline in some paper one day. I think I made a clipping

out of it. Someone had misused this welfare which was not-I don't know

what paper it was in, but I didn't, uh--

I: Uh huh. V y /

H: t -e =g=sg, but that fulfilled some of my, uh, some of my, uh,

same beliefs about that thing, you know, that uh, because let's say this,

uh, this is money that actually eats into every one of us--probably uh,

that we are paying. If the person is not able-so well and so good-

but a lot of people are misusing that thing. This is what--that's what

I'm saying. But I have no quarrel with it. That's my only tha

belief about that. And I--I really-that's really--I really attack that

FB 46A Bridges

Page 36

H: thing, you know. Because-I--well, I mean I think a lot of people misuse

that thing from time to time. I'm not talking-white as well as blacks--

no special one, you know. This type of thing.

I: Uh huh. Uh huh. So you think you've been, uh, how effective in that


H: Yeah, I think I've been very effective in that area, very effective.

LJ/^ 6(71/S -fA- yeah. ...

I: In terms of changing?

H: hanging things, right. Because, let me say this, see, you know, this

thing-I heard this--now I don't know it for true. I don't know it for

true. That a person might be on welfare. He receive food stamps, okay.

Then if you, okay, in the stores, now, I could walk in there with food

stamps. And this is your store. I don't think you wouldn't question me

and say, well, okay, here where'd you get these food stamps. Well, a lot

of people might be selling these food stamps, you understand. And that

is misusing the thing. And I really came out in the paper because I

heard that existed. And I'm dead against that type of thing. Now if

you qualify for these things. You get it. You use it. More luck to

you if they certify you. You understand--if you're able to certify for

it. But if you get these things, and come over here and go on--your

selling these things. And a lot of them get a lot of-$100-worth of

them so $100, I wouldn't have to work, you see. That's wrong. That's

called larseny after the trust or something they call it. Now what is it.

That's what they call it because you're misusing the thing.

I: Yeah.

H: Yeah, I think I've been very effective. I'm very--that's one of my

really things that I really get on. And I--not only-especially in the

black area, and all of my meetings that I attend. That I want, you know,

B. 46A Bridges

Page 37

H: I like to set up a training program where a person get in some type of

training program, especially blacks. Okay, and if they're under this

type of stigma and they can come out from under this thing--get out

from under this thing. You understand me.

I: Uh huh.

H: Now if you can't, it's different, but now I don't think in our society

now, I know this unemployment is pretty heavy, but as time move along

now, people can get jobs and they can get out from under this type of

thing. We just have to support them. I'm a big pusher of that. I

believe that because I was raised on a farm, and my father died when I

was twelve years old. My mother never did receive welfare, and

out of four boys and one girl, four of us got through school, one's a

Ph.D. and another one is a lieutenant colonel. He's at Princeton, and

one finished from Tuscagee as an auto mechanic. 1'e -r e o

Sister just finished high school. So what I'm saying, I think that

if a person want to get out there and work at it, they can. And now,

the opportunities are way greater than when I came through-the society

that I moved out of. The society that I moved out of was a rough

society. It.was
you see.

I: Uh huh. Okay.

H: Employment. Now the employment in this area. Well, I mean I think I've

been somewhat effective. Probably, okay, I work with the state department.

See, you know, we have this funny stuff, so anytime a hit a 6.5%

unemployment, they entitle p certain __ + /e . .. 1 .i

And what we done here, like, okay, okay this is I t C This is all

*the Tile' money that we received--the different counties. They have

a Walton County, Washington County--here we are in Okaloosa County. We

FB 46A Bridges

Page 38

H: receive $939,579. And out of that money, okay, we went back--and the

county commission received this money. They serve as the umbrella,

and they separate the money out according to the population, okay.

I: Uh huh.

H: All right, the city of Ft. Walton Beach has a population of 22,500.

They receive $76,950 right. From that, we went back and we got

this money in the city. We went back and set up different types of

jobs, all right. We set up labor type of job, maintenance, firemen,

staff assistants, auto mechanics, right on down and prorated that money

out to the amount of money we had. All right, then I made sure that

in the percentage of workers that we were going to hire here, that we

were able to get out "required minority group. This is the way we

divided that out. So that was able to set up unemployment for these

people that actually was out of work. Because this is -what this money

was for--to provide a twelve-month job for people in a particular county--

which was 6.5% unemployment.

I: Was that federal money?

H: This is federal money. It's federal money-come into your county commission.

They separate it out, right.

I: Okay.

H: Okay, parks and recreation I think I've been very, uh, somewhat effective

in that. Like I said before, we're in the process of building these, uh,

tennis courts and this type of thing and getting that going.

I: Yeah.

H: So we're-- and here in Ft. Walton, we don't have a problem in the recreation.

Water and sewage and garbage--we've been, I think, somewhat effective in
that because we have priority list set up now with he different moneys

coming about. We're able to solve some of those particular problems.

.B 46A Bridges

Page 39

H: Helping hospitals-I think I've been somewhat effective in that. Now,

we have-well, we have the general hospital here now as well as the

regular county hospital. And that been a hassle between the two. The

county commission want to control that hospital so it been a hassle

?'.. Y '61ai.d of the hospital called it general hospital.

But we're trying get the two things to come together and we're a part of
the city. Were trying to help them out in any-way as.far .asrhelp is

concerned. But we have two hospitals in the city. Education-we have

different type of.courses going out into different outside communities.

What I've been able to do since I've been here, especially for, we'll say

the minority groups, okay, where black here in Okaloosa County, you have

an area called like Baker, Florida,,and you have something like Mowry Hill

or other outside area where you wouldn't have the assets to being exposed

to civil service announcements, different jobs that might be available.

I've had the civil service commission send out announcements to a contact

man. Out there in that outside area where they open the churches and the

schools up on Sunday, and they look through these announcements and they

can file under the civil service where he brings that in to me and I

send it in to the area office. And they, in turn, will give a notice of

a rating where they can be--..e-t a civil service-work Not only that,

we have veterans coming in that man might not go to the retirement age.

Where if he come off the--coming out of the service as a three-year hitch,

he can get a VRA-type appointment-called a veteran readjustment act, whereas

he wouldn't have to go through the area office and get his name on the

register there. He can come in here and fill out a 171. He can be

considered for a job right then. Whereas compared to yesteryears, they

didn't have this. Okay, here's a man retiring in supply. He had twenty

years, and I only had four years in supply. I never.could get a job

FB 46A Bridges

Page 40

H: because you have all those fellows that had been there twenty years or so.

We have a good thing going in the community as far as training, such as

typing, opposed to those outside areas, especially in those predominant

black areas where the-

I: Uh huh.

H: You didn't have service before. So I think that's been very effective

there. In the fire protection, I think that's been-well, we have, I

would say, have been very effective there because in FT. Walton Beach,

I now, we just completed another building over on Beal Street by the, uh,

State Fire Department over there. Well now, we have enough fire protection

for all the area of Ft. Walton Beach. We're at a standstill now, and the

only thing we're going now-- we have a fire truck on the drawing board

now which will take care of a five story building. We going to give

them permission to go up five stories in Ft. Walton. If you look around

in Ft. Walton, you can see that we have almost used up the land. So now

they going to start going up, and we got a fire truck on the drawing

board now before this thing really come into effect, we will have this

fire truck. So I think it's been very effective in that.

I: Okay. Okay, good. Thanks. Um, you've gotten some-you've mentioned a

bunch of federal funds that you've gotten for your district. You've

mentioned housing, uh, and uh, other--what are some other areas in

which you've gotten federal funding?

H: Well, the biggest portion of the federal funding that we've--that I've

been instrumental in receiving is, more or less, Well, just what you

mentioned in housing. This is the main one that I've been really

responsible-now the city has received other funds that probably-that

I wasn't the prime sponsor of, but I've been the prime sponsor of the

one in housing because that was one of the areas where you really needed

to really do something in.

FB 46A Bridges

Page 41

I: Okay.

H: Yeah.

I; You also get a certain amount of revenue sharing, uh, federal revenue


H: Right.

I: You have the state or you indirectly.

H: Uh huh.

I: What's that money used for?

H: All right, this revenue sharing money is used for the same things in the

city that can be identified--that really-there's a need. And it really

can help serve the, uh, the uli, majority of the people. This is what

this thing has to go out. And not only that, you have to come back, uh,

with a report and say, okay-we going to use a certain portion of this

money in this area. And this is the reason for using this area. This

thing has to be verified. Why, I think the reason behind this-that uh,

probably if a person might want a building. Well, you might have some-

thing more important than a building to do, you see. But they get into

all those soapbox I only get this little job done, and here's somebody's

house floating down the street. So what we have to do--we have to submit

a plan. Have someone to come in and do a study. We have-let's see-Ed

Crumble--his apartment in Pensacola-I believe it was. They'd come for

one. He came in with a study, and said these are your priorities of where

you should ppend your revenue sharing money--what you need in the city.

Rather than let us come up because I might would have my own little thing

that I would like to see go and this man have his own little thing. But

we had a survey made and we had a roadmap to go by. So we got to go by

this roadmap in order to get that money because this is their finding.

I: Uh huh. Okay.

FB 46A Bridges

Page 42

H: Yeah.

I: Do you push to have the money put into particular areas of revenue sharing--

H: Well, when this aid-when it came up, they had a public hearing, and uh,

I pushed for certain areas and uh, and I thought, well number one in

which we have the number two I was talking about is sewage. That's the--

I was--drainage and sewage-that's the main thing that I was really

pushing that because we have had in Fort Walton Beach, uh, a flood here

and one person had a heart attack in that area, and we couldn't get up

into that road. And we just did save that person's life, and uh, I think

that's one thing that I really pushed for and I really was able to get a

substantial amount of money in that department.

I: Uh huh.

H: Well, I went back into detail of the reason for that, you see, and this

type of thing. So I pushed in that area. Like I said before, some of--

the rest of them was pushing in recreation real real hard. I think we

are--more or less--moving pretty good in that area, as it stands now.

I: Okay. Good. Um, have you, um, as councilman or as-a member of the

committee been able to bring in industry or retail stores into Ft. Walton?

H: No, we're in the process of looking around now. You know we had T. I.

here and T. I. closed out. Due to, I think it was poor sales or something.

So they're in the process of looking around now and seeing what they can

do to try to bring in more. Now the mayor probably will appoint a committee

and this committee will be charged to go off and visit other industries and

see how we can--what we can do with the Chamber of Commerce. We plan to use

the Chamber of Commerce helping us, you see, to bring this in because--

And I feel we need this very bad because you could have a cut back here on

this base and personally, I've had a certain amount investment, and if you

don't have something on the outside to absolve that--well, you going to

FB 46A Bridges

Page 43

H: lose that facility.

I: Yeah.

H: Whereas, if you have something going like a check and balance system-

in other words, when we have a cut back here, they might be hiring out

here. If they have a cut back, we might be hiring out here. It's a

check and balances of different things. / I fl -,t but when

you put all your eggs in one basket, and then bet on this bay thing,

you can never tell what's going to happen, you see.

I: Yeah.

HI But when we get other none-uh, clean pollution industry--and I think

this is one of the things we going to really look into. But we would

have been abl& to probably give T. I. their rent free, but I think it

was poor sales reason why-800 people dumped in our community on one

lump. Just came in over night and bam-closed 4-4beek.

I: What's T. I.?

H: Texas Instruments.

I: Oh, I see.

H: Yeah. There's been 800 peo le in here. It% just came over night.

I: Uh huh.

H: Whatever rent that we'd been getting from them. We would certainly have

been glad to let them have it, you know.

I: Yeah. Yeah. I just have a few last questions here. Have there been any

black protests, sit-ins, or boycotts or even riots in the city of Ft.

Walton in the last ten years?

H: In the last ten years--no, we haven't. We've only had just marches on

Martin Luther King Day or something like that, you know. But as far as


FR 46A Bridges

Page 44

I: But not protests.

H: Protests--we haven't had that. That I can recall in the last ten years.

I: Okay. Any boycotts?

H: No, haven't had that.

I: Okay. ; < 1i-

H: It's been very-I just-to give you / ) gg _______ okay--

the area here-let's say, f Lh;.t f *cJ 0-.

Okay, I can recall that I got a call-had one black down at the T.G.&Y.

okay. The uh, but he was removing something out of the store. And uh,

IT think the manager caught him with this. But anyway, I think hvrand the

manager-he didn't slap him, but he hit him some way, this type of thing.

So he went to the city-came to the city, and he called up me to call a

meeting that 1Q'-v -. //, /A t / .J less than a hour.

So I went on down. Okay. And we called the manager down there, and the

manager there-he admitted he did do this, and so the, uh, we said, okay,

it's probably best for you to The manager--

you should have called the police, you see, because this thing could

really get something going in out community, and we don't want this

to happen. We had :.the president of the NAACP there and the manager.

And we just put it right on top of the line-on top of the table there,

and so the manager called his boss at another place. So they just

transferred him away and transferred a new manager in there. And the

NAACP president was real satisfied with that-that whole problem.

I: Uh huh.
H:' This is the way you really get things done. You have to--you got-this

thing got to be a take and give thing, you see. nC_ ___ F~na g -s

okay, he says okay--it's a take and give thing, and uh, in this area here--

this is really how we try to operate, you see.

FR 46A Bridges

Page 45

I: Uh huh. In terms of state politics now, uh, what's your opinion of

Governor Rubin Askew? That is, do you think he's been favorable in

attitude and policy toward blacks in Florida or not?

H: I think he has done a tremendous amount of job. You know he appointed

a black judge sometime ago, you know. And I think I remember this man.

At Florida A & M, I finished there, and uh, I think he's done a

tremendous job, Askew has--in appointed blacks to different jobs. I

think he's done a tremendous job in that because you got to-anytime

an elected official is in a certain position, he got to be, you know,

you got to do things.because they're right, but yet and still he can't

overreact. You got to really really stay right on--right in the--

ozs& of the road, you know. In going out because he cany

Jo same things and it can effect him over here and this type of thing.

The same thing is involved with me. Every time I go into the city

commission meeting, I got to be way more sharp than any of my comrades

because the spotlight is always on me. Anytime I open my mouth and uh,

I really got to know what I'm saying. But I probably-now this is the

way I feel internally, you see, because people are listening. Like I

said before, they write down things-everything you say, you see. So

what I'm saying-as far as Askew, I think hers done a tremendous job.

And I probably-some of my comrades might not like him or something like

that, but I think he's done a tremendous job.

I: Uh huh. Any other state officials that you feel have been especially

favorable to blacks or especially unfavorable?

H: Well, the only one that I think that uh, Askew has been about our one-

the best that we have. That's what I would say,on the state level wide.

1: Okay.

H: And, you know, I would--normally uh-normally appointments that you

FB. 46A Bridges

Page 46

H: normally could make. And if a person wanted why he could go out and
find some real sharp blacks qualified like he want to do it. You know,

if he-you know, say okay--I got a staff here of so many people, okay.

They're on the sa-ee payroll. Okay, if I can't find him here, I'll go

out and recruit him.

I: Uh huh.

H: You understand. If he really want to take a positive approach. A lot

of times we use this word-well, I can't find anybody. That won't buy-

that kite ftRt fly no more.

I: Uh huh.

H: That won't fly no more. You can go somewhere in the United States and

get whoever you want to get. If you need a black, you can go somewhere

and get that black. If you want to--if you mean to do it, you see.

If you mean to do it, you can really do it. Well, that's my job here.

I recruit-i recruit at different colleges in hiring minorities. That's

my game here on this base .

I: Uh huh.

H: Hiring minorities--and actually, like .41e-ta engineer, mathematician,

and all that kind of stuff, you have to get on out. You got to get up

into Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, you can find them if you want to. But

we-if you going to stay right here--say no, you'll won't find-might

not find no black engineer that live in Ft. Walton. You can say that

twenty years from now. But if you mean to take a positive approach

and you want to do something, you'll go out and find them if you want to

do it. But I think Askew's done a good job.

I: Okay.

K: Yeah. I think that.(laugh) I don't know how feelor what,

you know. i rt ALV Ij k e behid him.
you know. I ____________ _b4yt4 behind him.

FB, 46A Bridges

Page 47

I: Just one final major question, and that is-do you think that, on a

whole, winning and holding office in Florida has been worth it-has

been worth the effort?

H: Yeah. For more reasons than one, I, you know-some day, if I live long

enough, I plan to try to go up higher than I am now, and- uh, and I think

this is one of the-this is the first step on the ladder in going up.

I know in-facing the news and all this type of thing-what has happened

in our politics-it just- But anyway, but I feel that all my efforts-

all of them-have been very very good. If I didn't do anything but

protrate to some more blacks that a person-the opportunities here

now, if you really get out and work and try, you can go in. You understand


I: Uh huh.

H: But if I'm going to do that one thing, why iS3%e that. If-well

for a lot of things--it might make someone over there sleep and wake up

and say looky here, looky over here now. He's up there. I can do the

same thing. You understand me? If they put something up there for a

person to form, uh, that's a qgt--I want to reach up there. You

Understand me?

1: Uh huh.

H: Didn't do no more than that--it'd really-it woke somebody was sleeping,

you know, That this thing had been going so long in Ft. Walton and then

never got in there. Say there's one in there now. So it really-it really

is not any more than just enlightening someone that he really say the

opportunity is here now. You really should get out there. You really

should get with it, you know.

Ii: What future office are you thinking of running for?

H: Well, I plan to-I don't know at the present time, but I plan to go,

4B 46A Bridges

Page 48

H: probably, for some type of office in the county. The next step is

higher in the county, and then from the county, I plan to try into the


I: Okay.

H: Yeah.

I: Have there been any negative aspects of being in office that you've felt?

H: No, I've, you know, really, I have really enjoyed it. It's a lot of work.

It' a lot of work. We only get a dollar a year. One dollar a year-

that's what r get. A dollar a year.

I: A dollar?

: e have all kind oft it's really really a lot of work

involved in that. But you have normally, you got to like that type of

thing. You got to-you got to be a person that can accept criticism--

not taking a negative response. If you were planning to go up, you got

to because any time you're running for other offices in that area, the

vote counts, every vote counts. You really got to be able to swallow a

lot of pills in this game, and uh, roll with the punches in order to make it.

I: Uh huh.

H: More'so that if you are black than you are white. I notice a lot of my

comrades, they fire in on somebody at times, but I-the way I see it,

you just can't do that in my position at the present time. You understand me?

I: Uh huh.

H: You got to listen as you really dig in and set in and this type of thing.

You get really established in the thing-then you can come out. You really-

that'd be my'advice to anyone in the first go around in this thing-the

first go around. You really got to portray a really--a good image, but

yet and still, you got to be there and tell it like it is and call a

shot a shot.

I: Uh huh. What effect has all this had on you personally and your family?

_B 46A Bridges

Page 49

I: Has this had any effects?

H: Yeah, well my family felt very proud of it.

I: Uh huh.

H: They felt very proud of it. There were a lot of times it-well it takes

me away from them a Ibt..- It takes me away from them a lot. There's a

lot of sacrifice on their part, and uh, I always give them credit for

that Because a lot of time I can be at home watches TV and now I'm

leaving. I'm on the road doing this-that type of thing for the city.

I: Yeah.

H: But I think in the years to come, it will really pay off. It will really

pay off because I think by my starting the fire there, I think there are

going to be others coming by ~ m"mr 4 on out. And will soon

Be the accepted thing.

I: Okay. Just a couple quickies here at the end. You--what's the date you

first were elected to office?

H: Oh, let me see--when was that? That must have been in 1973, 1973, I

think it was.

I: Okay, and you first ran, I guess, what in 1971?

H: 1971.

I: Okay, and you took office then also, in 1973?

H: Right!

I: Um, if I may ask your age?

H: My age is forty-nine.

I: Okay. And uh, your occupation before the election-your first election?

H: That is principal out in Okaloosa County.

I: Okay. Was it a high school?

H: Uh huh. Elementary and a high school.

I: Okay. Level of education.


FR 46A Bridges

Page 50

H: I have a B.S. and M.S.

I: Okay. And that was-you said at Florida A & M?

H: Right.

I: Uh, were you. active in the civil rights movement of the early and mid-sixties?

H: No, I wasn't active in that; But I've sent contributions and this type of

thing. Iwasn't-you know, wasn't-- didn't go up and take part. That's

what you're referring to.

I: Yeah.

H: Yeah, I didn't go up and take part, no.

I: Do you belong to the NAACP?

H: Right.

I: Any other civil rights, uh, 4 ________?

H: That's the only one.

I: What church to you belong to?

H: Greg Chapel, Methodist.

I: Okay, and are you an official?

H: Yeah, I'm a steward.

I: Okay. Uh, and finally, what was your father's occupation.or is your

father's occupation?

H: Yeah, my father was--his occupation was a-he was a sawyer. He had a

saw mill-a sawyer--probably, I don't know. This might be a different

term now. He worked a thing called a leework or carriage. This carriage

go up and down in sawing logs and he operated this carriage, yeah.

I: Uh huh. Was that in this area?

K: Yeah, Because if was Walton County-over in Walton County-the next

county over.

I: That's a pretty specialized job, isn't it?

H: Yeah, he had to-you got throw signs and this a fellow called a block

FB 46A Bridges

Page 51

H: setter. He had to push that thing to a certain point, then that log would
hit that big saw'and go down and saw up the wood like that andygo back

to your And my daddy worked the carriage. He had a big a

lever, and he'd throw them another sign and he had to know what-how

far to push this thing, and that thing would cut off a certain

I1: Yeah. Yeah.

K: So it was a technical job, yeah.

r: ___________?

H: Yeah. L.-'v

1: Thank you.

H: Okay.

I: See you tomorrow.

H: _yr\ ________

This is the end of Side 2.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs