Title: Cauley O. Lott
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00005818/00001
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Title: Cauley O. Lott
Series Title: Cauley O. Lott
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FB 58A Bridges

-1- Beginning of Side 1

This interview is conducted by Dr. James Button for the "Button Project."

He is interviewing Cauley 0. Lott in Mount Dora, Florida on 8-2-75.

I: anonymous. We hope you feel free to be candid with us.

The first questions, uh, we just want to know about how blacks have

participated in Florida politics over the last few years. And we'd

like to ask you some questions about your political participation.

L: Uh huh.

I: First of all, what year did you register-first register--to vote?

L: It was back in, uh, well--

I: Was it the year you turned twenty-one?
L: No, at that time I was ineligible, uh,/being in the South to vote, see.

First, I registered as a republican because that was the only party that

I could affiliate with. But as soon as the law was passed that you could

affiliate with both parties. I mean you could become a member of the

Democratic party, ii immediately changed to democrat. And I don't

recall just what year that was, but they--you know, it's a record

when this happened.

I: Why couldn't you register to vote when you were twenty-one?

Did you try?

L: No, I didn't. It was just an unwritten law___ or well it was-

at that time blacks were not allowed to participate in the Democratic


I Uh. huh.

L: That was my, uh._

I:: What area was this? Was this Mount Dora?

L: Well, it-no. That was the South in general-the state of Florida in


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I: Yeah--no, I mean where were you then? When you --when you--

L: When I turned twenty-one? I was at Tallahassee then in college.

I: Uh huh. About what year was that?

L: Oh, that was around 1930 or 1945. 1945.

I: And you didn't register to vote then until when?

L: No.

I: Approximately--1950? '55? Later?

L: Yeah. No--1955--oh, it was earlier than that.

I: Fifty-four was the supreme court decision.

L: Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Around 1955, '54, or somewhere in there.

I: Okay. Right after that decision?

L: Yeah. Uh huh.

I: Okay. Did local registrars ever turn you down when you'd attempted to


L: Never did.

I: During that period? Okay. How long have you been in Mt. Dora?

L: Thirty-five years.

I: Uh huh. You came down here from Tallahassee?

L: No, I went to Brevard County -- Cocoa one year and then I came here.

I: Uh huh.

L: Uh huh.

I: Okay. Have voter registration drives been held in Mt. Dora?

L: They have.

I: When were those?

L: Well, two years ago the Black Voters League over there set up a

registration. We worked out a agreement with the register's office.

She deputized several of us as individuals that--deputies to register.

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I: Uh huh.

L: And we've launched campaigns throughout the county here in the black

communities in particular. We'd go in in the evenings, set up registra-

tion, And we registered, I guess, near 2,000 blacks.

I: You feel they were successful or not?

L: The registration was successful?

I: Right.

L: The registration was successful, but the practice hadn't been too

successful. Now we've got a long list now that's being purged from

the roll. And there are those kind of things that disturb us.
I: Why is that? You mean / haven't voted--for not voting?

L: For non-participation.

I: For not voting?

L: Yeah. Uh huh.

I: What years were those drives held now? Do you remember?

L: It's been about three years ago.

I: Oh, three years ago.

L: Uh huh.

I: And those were the last ones?

L: Yeah, last--

I: That were held?

L: Uh huh.

I: How long have you been in office?

L: This is my third term.

I: Third two-year term?

L: Yes. Uh huh.

I: So you were first elected in 1969 or 1970?

L: No, 1971 I think it was.


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I: 1971?

L: Yeah.

I: Okay. Are there any things which prevent blacks from registering to

vote now in Mt. Dora?

L: Not that I know of. No.

I: Not that you know of?

L: Nothing--no. Nothing.

I: Okay. We have a few items here which, in some places, in the South have--

these items have prevented blacks from registering to vote. And we'd

like you, if you could, to--I've got a pen here to check whether you

think those items are very important, fairly important, or not important

at all in Mt. Dora in terms of preventing blacks from registering to


L: That's very interesting.

I: First of all, economic dependence on whites?

L: Uh huh.

I: That is--

L: Yeah. I know. I know like I'm working for somebody and if I vote or

participate they'll cut me off--a thing like that.

I: Yeah.

L: Non-existent in this community.

I: Was it a factor?

L: No, it never has been a factor--not in this immediate area. I don't

think there's ever been because you got a different clientele of people

here. You've got people that --well, they're fair and impartial--the

majority of them. They believe in equal rights and what have you. So

we never had those kind of problems.

I: Okay. How about fear of physical violence from whites?

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L: Now let me see. What am I doing here--very important, fairly important--

now what--you mean now--

I: In terms of preventing blacks from registering to vote?

L: Uh, physical, uh, no. No, we haven't had any.

I: Okay.

L: We haven't had physical violence.

I: Number three is how about complicated registration forms?

L: Not as such. They're just an ordinary registration form. Of course,

we've had so many that were not, you know, too great--before integration

their education that may be a--'cause no. No, I would say no..

I: Yeah, in some cases officials have told us that some citizens can't

read very well in that sense they've had trouble registering.

L: Not at all. Uh uh.

I: Not at all?

L: Nope. Because--

I: Okay.

L: See, as I told you, I think Lake County in particular has bent over

backward to try to help. Very seldom that you find them would deputize

individuals--local blacks to do the registration and what have you and

send it. We had the books out here in the community, down at the

church and various basements and things where they could come in. It

made it convenient for them here in their immediate community.

I: And they did deputize blacks?

L: Yeah. Oh yeah. I've served as a--I was chairman of the entire

registration for the county.

I: Okay.

L: Uh huh.

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I: Was the NAACP ever active in terms of helping blacks to register?

L: Very.

I: Very?

L: Uh huh.

I: That's /very. Okay.

L: Uh huh.

I: Number four is poor registration hours. Has that been a factor in

preventing blacks?

L: That hasn't been a factor, no.

I: It hasn't been?

L: Because here again, it goes right back to what I just said.

I: Okay.

L: That's the reason I'm able--ought to know

I: Okay. Yeah. How about registration not held often enough?

L: I think it has been held often enough.

I: Okay. How about, and you did mention this, how about re-registration
effects. You mentioned that/you don't vote within a two-year period,

your name's dropped from the roll.

L: They make--they send out lists. They send out a list that--and you're

able to fill out a card and they reinstate you.

I: Okay.

L: It's just that simple.

I: But have--some blacks have been dropped from the rolls and have not

re-registered? Has that been a factor?

L: Yes. Definitely so. Uh huh.

I: Do you think that's been fairly important or very important in terms

of blacks losing their voting privelege.

L: Well, I think that's been--well, I think it's very important. But now,

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L: here again, you look at it this way, if they were not exercising their

franchise or their privelege, then if you leave them on the rolls are

we enhancing their--are we encouraging their participation.

I: Uh huh.

L: It's-I mean, to me, it's rather involved there. I don't know whether

we're helping them, maybe we're not.

I: Uh huh.

L: Of course, there again, if they're still registered you might create

an incentive during the registration, I mean, during the election period.

And there they can get them to go down and vote. And so I guess it

would be important that they remain on the rolls.

I: Okay. Okay. The last one, number six, is indifference of blacks to

voting. Has that Been a factor?

L: Yes. Very important. Very important.

I: Okay.

L: I think here we've got a backlog of conditions. The individuals have

Been complacent in voting. They have never really known the importance

of voting. And consequently, he'll have to build up an education

background and they have to appreciate the advantage of the vote and

what have you. So consequently, it's going to take time and it's coming

through a mass process of education. I don't think that--and I don't

mean so much a academic education, but it's going to be a process of

teaching them the importance of their vote and what it will do for

them and what have you.

I: How long has it been since blacks started voting on a fairly large scale

here in Mt. Dora? Has it been fairly recently or has it been, like


L: The last ten years.

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I: The last ten years?

L: Uh huh.

I: Is Mt. Dora divided into districts in terms of city elections?

L: No.

I: It's at-large?

L: City wide.

I: Okay. How many councilman are there?

L: Seven.

I: And a mayor is--

L: The mayor is elected.

I: By the council?

L: Uh huh.

I: Okay.

L: No. He's for electorate here.

I: elected official. Okay.

Do you have a city manager?

L: No. We defeated that issue at the last election.

I: Okay. Were you able to campaign freely when you ran for office? That

is, were you threatened in any way?

L: No way whatsoever. I campaigned freely. I had--well, you had to circulate

a petition, and 99 percent of the people who signed my petition were

whites--important from the bankers down.

I: Uh huh.

L: And finance-I was assisted. at finance 'cause I didn't need much

finance, but I was given all the finance I needed.

I: Where did you get that finance?

L: From the general public.

I: From the voters?

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L: Uh huh.
I: Any organizations in particular?

L: Well, a black organization here'gave some. And then mostly individuals.

I: What was the black organization?

L: The Neplus Ultra Social Club--a social club here in the community that

I'm a member of.

I.: Uh huh.

L: Uh huh. As a matter of fact, we still have--we set up a campaign fund.

The first year, that was in '71, and there's still in that account, I

just heard a statement from them the other day CI( use it each year),

there's still $105.00 in that account.
I: Uh. huh. So campaign money was .- a problem?

L: Never a problem. Nope.

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

L: Well, number one, I served as principal here at the school for thirty-

three or four years, I don't right recall now which one it was. And

there was always important needs for certain community improvement--

environmental improvement. And of course, I had a good working relation

with the city officials, but there was never enough input from the

black community to get many of the things that I wanted. And so after

I retired, I decided to run for city office where I could have some

input into the needs of this community.

I: Uh huh. Uh huh.

L: Those were the main things

I: Ahd you won the first time you ran for office?

L: run for office _I been on the-i've been elected

three times. And each time, I believe the ticket got up the highest

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L: vote getter each time.in the three year election that it's been held.

I: Okay.

L: Uh huh.

I: You belong to the Democrat party, you said now?

L: Yes.

I: Did you ever receive any help--financial or otherwise--from the Democrat


L: No, not as such.

I: Okay. Are elections non-partisan or partisan?

L: In the city?

I: In the city.

L: Non-partisan.

I: Okay. What were the two or three most important issues on which you


L: Law enforcement in law and order and community improvements. Those

were the most important issues And

there still is a great need for sewer and streets and water pressure

and what have you--we could improve. We have been able to accomplish

a few of those things. We've started on street paving program.

And we've spent some $60,000.00 extending the fire protection in the

east section of the city here. And general improvement--enforcing of

city ordinances, such as junk cars, garbage, and what have you. We

are beginning to make in roads. We had the statutes on the books,

but they never were enforced.

I: Uh huh.

L: And they are now being enforced, and so we feel that we are beginning

to make in roads in the right direction.

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I: Do you think these issues that you mentioned were the main problems

facing blacks in this community? That is, law enforcement, uh--

L: Well, I would say that they-yeah, to my way of thinking, they were

the major problems. These things that I've mentioned. Such as,

environmental, uh, improving streets and cleaning up the ghettos.

I mean they--getting this atmosphere changed, the image of the

community changed. r think they were most important.

I: Uh huh.

L: Because here you've got your children. You're trying to raise children

in an environment that-throughout the community here where you had a

bunch of jook joints and all. And they were not regulated, and all kind

of hours and what have you. And I think those things were important.

And the moral conduct of many of the people that frequent these jook

joints and all were definitely factors, in my way of thinking, that was

influencing the wellbeing of this community.

I: Okay. Do you think the main problems that you thought facing the city

were the same problems facing the black community? Is that what you're


L: No. I don't follow you there now.

I: Well, you said you campaigned on the issue of law and order.

L: Yes.

I: And general community betterment.

L: Right. Uh huh.

I: Water and sewage and streets.

L: Yeah.

I: I'm asking if those were the issues you campaigned on--were those also

the same issues that seemed to he problems in the black community?

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L: Yeah, definitely so.

I: Okay.

L: Uh huh. Uh huh.

I: Okay, fine. How many people are there in Mt. Dora approximately?

L: Approximately it's 5,000 within the city limits.

I: What percentage of this-of the 5,000 are black?

L: Oh, about 4.5 percent.

I: Would you know about what percentage of blacks of voting age, eighteen

or over, are registered to vote in Mt. Dora?

L: You mean what percentage are registered to vote?

I: Are registered.

L: Mmmm, about two percent.

I: Of all blacks?

L: Yeah, uh huh.

I: Just two percent?

L: That's about it.


L: We have about out of-with the population here about, uh, now approximately

1,000 blacks. And maybe we have around 300 registered to vote.

I: That would be thirty percent.

L: Thirty percent. I got my percentages wrong. All right. That's about it.

I: So it's about thirty percent?

L: Yeah.

I: Okay. Of the percentage of blacks who are registered to vote, how many

actually voted when you were elected? Would you have any idea?

What,percent actually voted?

L: I imagine about twenty percent.

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I: Twenty percent of those who had registered?

L: Yeah, uh huh.

I: Actually turned out to vote?

L: Yeah, uh huh.

I: And you feel you got most of the black vote?

L: Yes, particularly the first term.

I: Okay, but you haven't since?

L: I don't think I have.

I: Why haven't you?

L: We got an increased percentage of white vote. Well, the reason why is

one of those things that we were talking about a few minutes ago. You

have to-it's a process of education. Now when I began to enforce in

city ordersr- that were effecting blacks, such as these garbage can--

junk, and proper disposal of their garbage. And junk cars that they

would have around their houses and things. And things like that they--

you got a group of people that don't want to be forced to clean up

their surroundings and so that's the reason I say that--bf course, the

majority are the better thinking citizens. Still I still maintain their

support, but;there were some that I lost. And law enforcement--I lost

some on that because I was-there was a laxity upon the police department.

They enforced the laws and I've insisted that they be enforced regardless

of who they are.

I: Okay. So you think you lost some black votes?

L: I'm sure I did. Maybe, of course it's insignificant. It has been.

I: What percent of your total vote came from whites?

L: Oh, I would say eighty percent.

I: Each time you ran you said the percentage has gone up a little?

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L: Yes. Uh huh.

I: Is it above eighty percent or was it in the last election?

L: Well, it's still in the neighborhood of eighty percent. I mean--we

haven't increased any appreciable number and we haven't lost any

ground I don't think.

I: How many opponents did you have each time you ran?

L: The first time, they were six. Six, five, then five, I believe it was.

Uh huh.

I: Five each of the other times?

L: Yes, uh huh.

I: Were you the only black who was running each time?

L: Yes, uh huh.

I: Have you been the first black to run?

L: First black.

I: In Mt. Dora?

L: Uh huh.

I: Okay.

L: I have encouraged, as I said, I'm a member of _organizations

here, and I've just recently, in our last meeting, I encouraged the

community to-I feel that at each election there should be blacks, uh,

candidates and not wait until it's time for me to run. Or not wait

until they want to put opposition against me, but continue to have

somebody running at each election. That way you get the exposure and

you get the knowledge, and then you keep you're problem before the


I: Uh huh. Do you think you'll--

L: I don't think I'll run again.

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I: Okay. I was just going to say that.

L: No.

I: It'll be the last term?

L: This'll be the last term. Yes.

I: Okay. What percent of the total vote did you get each time you ran?

Did you get a majority?

L: I got a majority. Let's see, the first time I remember very vividly

there were 1,100 votes cast and I got--it was 749 1 believe it was

something like that-the highest number that was for any candidate.

I: Uh huh. I wonder what percent that would be-seventy percent?

Something like that.

L: Yes, something like that. Uh huh.

I: How about the other times? About what percent did you get-

L: Well, it must have been around seventy because It've received practically

the same number of votes each time. I've been the highest vote getter,

and consequently--

I: Highest vote getter in the city?

L: Yeah, of all the candidates.

I: Okay. So you never had a run-off?

L: No.

I: Okay. Fine. Thank you. We have series of questions now we'd like to

ask you to determine how well black officials have Been able to benefit

those they represent in the community.

L: Uh huh.

I: I'd like to ask you, first of all, in what ways :do you think you have

helped blacks in your area by holding office?

L: All right. Okay, number one--one of the most important, I think, was the

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L: extension of fire protection, fire hydrants in the east-northeast section

of the city. That's back herein this area. For a number of years, uh,

number one, the water pressure was inadequate, no fire hydrants. They

were very sparsely located, and I got, through revenue sharing, $45,000.00

matched by additional $5,000.00 of the city financed to extend the fire

hydrants. That was definitely an improvement. I got about ten blocks

of paving, curbing gutters, costing approximately $49,000.00 for this

section. We got regular-

I: Where did that money come from--the $49,000.00?

L: The $49,000.00? It's--out of general tax.

I: Okay.

L: Uh huh.

I: The city?

L: Yes. Of course, they, you know, we have the matching fund. The property

owner pays a third and then the city pays a third-that way.

I: Okay.

L: Uh huh. We've, in general improvements, such as enforcing the city

ordinance, they are beginning to take that right from the place in the
community. And we've-- I mean i--well, I can't claim/credit for it, but

we have had our black policemen in the community. We had to discontinue

service recently because of incompetency, but we will be getting additional

black law enforcement officers in the community.

I: He was fired from the police force?

L: Yes. Uh huh. Yeah.

I: But you said he was--was he on the force before you were elected?

L: Yes, yes he was. Uh huh.

I:: Okay. What, if anything, do you feel has prevented you from doing a



I: Better job, especially in regard to Benefiting Blacks?

L: Finance--revenue. Definitely so. I--oh yeah, we've got to maintain

the public park over here-secure the finance to purchase the land and

develop a public park.

I: Okay.

L: That wasn't

I: Yeah, is there anything else which has prevented you from, do you feel,

doing a better job for blacks?

L: Well, there are a few--one or two councilmen-that have been reluctant

about spending money in the black community. They have just--are of

the opinion that a status quo condition is good enough and what have you.

I: Uh huh.

L: And the main problem has bean we haven't had enough input from the blacks

as a group to demand these things, see. Not in form of violence or that

thing, but just go down to-your constitutional rights or your civic

rights for these improvements. I don't think we had enough input from

them, you know.

I: Uh huh. Uh huh.

L: To emphasize these things.

I: Okay. Thank you.

L: Uh huh.

I: We have another checklist here of items which, in some cases, have

prevented blacks from doing a better job to benefit blacks in the community.

We'd like to again just have you check these and comment briefly. First

of all, the office having no real authority. Has that prevented you from

doing a better joob, do you feel, at all? Was that very important, or

fairly important or not important at all in terms of preventing you from

FB 58A

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I: doing a better job in benefiting blacks?

L: The office has no real authority. Now, what do you mean by no real


I: That's the feeling that it has no real power to do things that you'd

really like to do.

L: Well, you realize that our city is operated by a city council.

I: Uh huh.

L: And the authorities rest with the city council. And being a member of

the city council, I feel that I do have direct authority.

I: Okay. Fine. So you may find that that's really not important in terms

of preventing you from-

L: Well, I--let's say fairly.

I: Do you wish you had more power to-

L: Yeah. Well, I do. I've had-well, now I: don't know. I mean I wish I
could get more done, but/as far as giving one individual more power-

I don't know if that would be the proper thing or not, see.

I: Yeah.

L: Now you take-that was one reason they fought the city manager form of

government. They failed to do--there's too much power delegated to--

I: To the city manager.

L: Yeah.

I: Yeah.

L: And so I don't know. Well, I-here again, this question hinges around

the attitude of your city council.

I: Yeah.

L: If you can solicit the cooperation of four or three other councilmen,

you got it, see.

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I: Uh huh.

L: And other things being equal as far as the So I

would say fairly important.

I: Okay. How about number two of being outvoted by white officials? Do

you think that's been important at all in terms of preventing you--

L: It hasn't been important in my situation. It could be in this form

of thing. It could be very, but it hasn't been in my situation. Now

how do you want me to answer that?

I: Well, that--you said sometimes you feel there's some white officials

that don't want to go along.

L: Well, there are one or two, but you know, they're in a minority and

with a council of seven you--

I: So I guess you're saying that wasn't very important in terms of prevention

you from doing a better job.

L: No. Now here's a very important one.

I: Okay. Yeah, you mentioned that.

L: That is the revenue.

I: Okay. How about number four, unfamiliar with administrative duties?

Did that prevent you from doing a better job, do you feel?.

L: Well, I was fairly familiar with the administrative duties by serving

as a principal of the school for thirty-three years and having been

trained for administration and supervision. And I don't think that that


I: How about the duties of a councilman--did you--when you first got on, did

you find that you were aware of what--the things you had to do. And the

programs you had to consider or not.

L: Well, it was the process of learning. I took the attitude that when I


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L: on the council that--well, certainly for the first one or two months,:

I was going to listen and observe and get my feet on the ground. And

get some of the know-how before I, you know, because you can take a

neophyte and they can slap you down in a minute, see. And so I wanted

to be fairly sure of what I was doing. And so I took a little a time.

I: Okay. Well, you don't feel that that was a-

L: No, definitely not.

I: Lack of cooperation from whites?

L: No, we've always had the cooperation of whites. We've had columnists

and what have you to come to our defense. They've always been very

outspoken as to the needs of this community. They're supporting us.

I: Who's that. You said ?

L: Oh, columnists. You know, individual that writes columns in the paper

I: Oh. Okay. These are citizens writing in.

L: Yeah. Uh huh.

I: So I guess you're saying that wasn't important?

L: No.

I: How about lack of cooperation from blacks? Was that important or not

important in terms of preventing -
L: Very important-fairly important, I'd say. /very important in my way of

thinking. It goes right back to the things that I've said. All right,

you've got a bunch of blacks and you had whites out here with these old

shanties and what have you. And when you want to condemn them and all

that and repair and all, you got feedback. You got a resentment.

I: Uh huh.

L: And so I would say both black and white. It's very important from that

segment of the citizens. Yeah.

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I: Uh huh. You said you've gotten a lot of criticism from lack of coopera-


L: Oh definitely so. Yes. Right. Uh huh.

I: Okay. So I guess you said that was very important?

L: Yeah.

I: Okay. How about lack of cooperation from state officials?

L: Well, we had--when uh--it hasn't effected my work to any extent because

we haven't been directly involved with state officials to a large extent.

There are certain things that--

I: Probably some paperwork.

L: Right. Uh huh.

I: Okay, but they've cooperated?

L: Yeah.

I: Okay. So I guess you're saying that's not important?

L: Uh huh.

I: Lack of cooperation from federal officials? Has that been a--

L: That's about the same category. I mean, uh, federal grants and what

have you. Our problem is that we haven't gone after enough federal

grants, I think. Now here, take in this community--and that's been

one thing that I have contended that there is money available--has been--

and we haven't gone for it because many of the councilmen and many of

the citizens of Lake County in particular bid against federal grants.

And they claimed that it's a give-away program.

I: Uh huh.

L: But I feel this, to get federal aid--I mean, you've got to be on programs.

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L: Uh, they say under certain categories, and if Mt. Dora doesn't spend its

money, use is going to spend it. Other communities are going to spend it.

We're going to help pay it. And so I'm not for just give-away programs,

no, but I've fought programs such as sewage, streets,

and what have you that others--and other cities are getting. And

there's a dire need for them. Why not get them? 'Cause
we're going to pay for / anyway. It's not going to help

Everytime we turn down one, it leaves that much more

money for Dade County or some of these other big counties who are actually

taking advantage of them.
I: Okay. Has this--are there some councilmen / also oppose getting more

federal money?

L: They're not so much opposed to it. They want to get the programs that

they want. There are certain programs that they would go for. You can

take, uh, this summer I don't think we got enough of the, uh, what's this

work program--I can't think of the name of it now. But anyway, we could

have gotten more of that money, but we didn't do it.

I: Special employment money.

L: Yes. Uh huh.

I: Okay. Have you received any criticism in the black community in terms

of their feeling that you may be sort of a token in government and

really not have much power?

L: No, I haven't. Not in this community to any noticeable extent because,

I mean, I don't think they could do--easily say that because I mentioned

earlier that I have actually been received wholeheartedly. And not

only me, but I think most any black. I think there are other blacks

who could have gotten elected had they had the initiative to get out.

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L: And so I don't think they can say that--well, they just got me there just

to satisfy because the opportunity's here to elect blacks, see. But

they just haven't come forward with the program.

I: Do you feel that white officials treat you differently from other officials

or not?

L: No. No, no, no.

I: Do they consider you a spokesman for the blacks?

L: Well, I have been referred to that as the--and I, in no uncertain terms,

I let them know that I represent Mt. Dora--the citizens of Mt. Dora.

I: Okay.

L: With a perhaps particular interest in this section because of the

backlog of needs, but I don't pretend to be no spokesman for the black

I'm for the citizen and I speak for the citizenry of Mt.

Dora and the voters of Mt. Dora.

I: Are you able to raise other issues?

L: Oh, definitely so. Yes indeed, yes.

I: Okay.

L: Sure. Uh huh.

I: Okay. You have mentioned a number of services that you feel you' ve been

able to provide blacks in the community since you took office. Again,

we just have one more brief checklist here. The last one.

L: It's all right.

I: To get you to comment on certain service areas in terms of how effective

you feel you've been.

L: Uh huh.

L: In terms of helping blacks. You've commented some already on police protection.

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L: Uh huh.

I: How would you rate yourself there since you've been in office. Do you

think you were very effective, somewhat effective, or not effective

in terms of--

L: In getting police protection?

I: Yeah, better police protection.

L: Well, here again, I played a definite part in the appointing of our

present police chief who has been appointed just in sixty days. The

council--the majority of the council--the mayor and the council's at

odds to appointing a police because the present incumbent had--I'll say

about six months time before he would be eligible for retirement. And

he became disabled and consequently the mayor interviewed several--had

a committee that interviewed several prospective candidates for the

chief of police. And we finally came up with one. And they didn't want

to do it at this time. The council wanted to do it their way. They were

in opposition with the mayor. And I felt that we have department heads

we 've always recognized the department heads. And I didn't see any

reason--one reason why they wanted to come in and dictate to the mayor

as to when he should make this change and dictate the policies of his

department. And so, consequently, we had a big controversy over it, and

I supported it wholeheartedly. And we got the appointment confirmed.

And my main reason for getting this--wanting this change was because of

the complacency on the part--and the ineffectiveness of the present--that

administration. And here you say it's off the record, I definitely feel

that people of this community--and here again it's been some of my

opposition--were victims of fraud, were victims of graft and what have

you under that administration. Many of the things they've--laws that we

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L: want to enforce were never enforced because of this kind of thing, see.

And so I supported the mayor wholeheartedly and we were able to get that

change. And just recently--you take Thursday at the Kiwanis--we had the

mayor--we had the chief of police and he outlined his program. It was

very impressive. I like the man. He came with the highest recommendation

that you could want. And he made it emphatically clear that he had no

respect of correction when it comes to enforcing the law and what have

you so it was very impressive. And I think that we're on the road to

having a good law enforcement officer.

I: And has protection been much better in the black community?

L: Well, we've never lacked for protection. We've just lacked for proper

enforcement of the laws. I mean, well, they were--violation of the city

ordinance of sales of alcohol and all those things, see. But since he's

taken over--those are--you see definite trendsrof improvement.

I: Okay. Okay.

L: Uh huh. Yeah.

I: How would you rate yourself? I guess you would say--

L: I would say very effective.

I: Okay. Okay.

L: Somewhat effective, I guess.

I: Streets and roads--you said you helped to get--

L: Yes, I think so.

I: a number of paved. How effective would you--

L: I'd say somewhat effective because we had over $200,000 worth of pavement

because this came from--we had one thoroughfare here about--13th Avenue--

about a mile and a half paved out of secondary funds. Well, that came

through the county commissioners and the state road department. That was

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L: in the community and so I had an input there. And then on top of that,

we had about thirty--no, about $45,000 on local--coming from local funds.

And so I'd say we've been somewhat effective in that--not nearly/effective

as I'd--we'd want to be.

I: Okay. How about housing?

L: Housing I have done a great deal there. I feel that there's a project

down here that because of my advocating--because of my push, we interested

this project down here. And local housing we've upgraded the code--the

building code and what have you. Any house built now must at least

conform to the southern housing code and what have you. And so I think

that I've been somewhat effective there.

I: Okay.

L: Uh huh.

I: Okay. Welfare? No, that may not be under your--
L: /well, here's a--here's a for certain-well it--

I wouldn't call it welfare, but there's certain social services that

the city had not participated in such as meals on wheels.

I: Uh huh.

L: I've gotten them to consider grants for that, and I've gotten them to

consider grants for the alcoholic-I mean the mental unit-alcohol unit.

We would make a local contribution there. And the city officials felt

that, uh, well, here you are supporting the drunks or a program for

the drunks. I said no, it"s a service that the city should be partici-

pating in because if those services are not provided county wide, well

then there would fall a need at the city level, see. Consequently, here

we got a public agent furnishing these services just for the sakes of--

I mean with the cooperation of the local cities. And so I think there's

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L: somewhat-some socialized programs have entered into that and so--

I: Okay.

L: Not as well in particular, but you now, social services.

I: Yeah, I think it would come under that.

L: Uh huh.

I: That title, I mean. How effective do you think you were there?

Somewhat effective?

L: Uh huh.

I: Okay. How about employment for blacks?

L: I haven't had too much input into employment.

I: Okay. You said you tried to get a grant for some more employment--

L; Yes. Uh huh.

I: How about employment at city hall?

L: No, I've had no input there whatsoever. I've been very ineffective there.

I: Are blacks hired-

L: They're not hired there, and I'll tell you why I say I've been ineffective.-

And I feel that I'm justified. During my years there have been no new

positions created, not one. There've been no replacements, and I don't

feel that black or white should go around advocated the displacement of

personal to, you know, bring in blacks.

I: Uh huh.

L: If there were new jobs created, new positions, I'd be the first. And

I would pretend--I mean I would fight for it to the best of my ability.

I; Uh huh.

L: But just to go to displace a person to create a job for blacks-I don't

believe in that. And then again, I believe that a person should be

qualified if there's a certain amount of training that is needed. And

are forbidden for such training-well then I think it should be.

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I: Are there any blacks on, say the roads, uh--

L: Streets.

I: Streets, uh, sanitation?

L: Oh. Oh, yes. There are definitely 99 percent of our city employees

are blacks-I mean in the various departments-streets and sewer and

what have you.

I: Okay. So you think the blacks are fairly? They aren't discriminated

against in terms of hiring or not?

L: Not in those positions. Well, I don't see any-where we can say that

we've had any discrimination in any of the hiring practices because

as a matter of fact, there's been no vacancies at city hall. If there

had been vacancies, they wouldn't have hired whites without _

I don't say, that they would.''t.

IT Th- huh.

L: But this hasn't presented itself. Now we did have the hiring practice--

well, we did have--here's a situation we had. We brought in dispatchers

in our police department. We started off with one black and she didn't

pan out, and she was replaced with a white. Now there'.s room there to

point toward discrimination, but we haven't. We've pointed up to the

president of the city council that we hadn't gone--this was the--

I don't remember any'that was Cp-2, and we pointed up that we could

Trying charges. And we were looking at it quite seriously the hiring

practices of Mt. Dora, and he was the first to realize that there were

room for improvement and I think that he'll be a little more cautious

in future practices. Oh, yes.

I Was there a case brought at that time or--

L: No, we just went to him as a group explaining our position before such


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I: Uh huh.

L: And we did have--a law was stemmed from this situation. Now we had

here summer recreation programs. We had a summer recreation program,

and in previous years the personnel had been furnished by the county

and city as a joint project. The county school system had no money.

They didn't participate in the program this year so the city took the

entire program. For instance, we have a--in our council--individuals head

& the different departments. So the fellow who was over the summer

recreation went on and hired the personnel and didn't take into

consideration blacks whatsoever, particularly from the managerial

point of view. He hired a waite manager for a group out here in the

black community at the pool supervision-the pool administration of the

summer program. So consequently, blacks resented it, and that's when

this hiring practices were beginning to have effect. See, we went to

city officials and told them, said well now here you are discriminating

and we're not going to have it. And they immediately called a meeting.

And they reconsidered, and they brought in black administrators and

lifeguards. And so we didn't have to go through a suit to get that


I: Okay.

L: Uh huh.

I: Number six here is parks and recreation.

L: Uh huh.

I: How effective do you think you were in that area?

L: Well, I think I was very effective because we established one park out

here, and purchased the land and then equipped it. And so I think that

we've been very effective in parks and recreation.

I: There was never a park in the black area?

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L: Never a park no.

I: Okay.

L: And we maintain ball diamonds, and the facilities on the school

campuses. We furnish the lights for that and I was instrumental in

getting those. That was years ago even before I got on the council.

I: You did that as principal?

L: Yes, uh huh.

I: Uh huh. How about water, sewage, and garbage?

L: I would say very effective. We got a good garbage collection. We

got sewage, water, fire hydrants and all extended and lines looped and

what have you. We had expenditures around $50,000.00, and I think we've

Been )very effective.

I: I guess you said that water and sewage was a problem in Mt. Dora.

L: Well, sewage as of now is a problem. And some drainage. We got problems

there, but it would take near $3,000,000.00 to properly sewer and drain

this section.

I-: Have you tried to get a grant for that?

L: No, that's what I'm telling you.

I: Yeah.

L: The city officials have been negligent on those parts. We haven't had

___engineers in going into that-writing up a program and what

have you. They claim there's too much red tape and all that, but I

don't buy that.

I: Okay. Health and hospitals?

L: The only-well I've mentioned the fact that we've contributed to

Waterman Memorial, mental units, and things of that nature.

1: Yeah.

L: That"s just token contribution that we've done. I would say not too

effective. End of Side 1


-31- Beginning of Side 2

L: The local government--set up doesn't involve participating in

hospitals and things of that nature, see. It's mostly done at the

county level, a district level.

I: Okay. So that doesn't really apply to you, I guessvery much, does it?

L: No. No. Uh uh. No.

1: Okay. Education-that may not apply to you either. I'm not sure that--

you probably have a--what, a county board?

L: No. No. That's right. We have a county school board.

I: Okay. Does the city council do anything in the area of education at all?

L: No.

I: Okay. In fire protection you've mentioned several things you've done


L: Yes. Uh huh.

I: Row effective do you think?

L: I.think I've been very.

I: Very effective?

L: Uh huh.

I: Okay. Thanks. As an elected official or even as part of a local

committee, have you been able to bring in industry or retail stores

into Mt. Dora?

L: No.

I: To provide jobs and things?

L: Never have.

I: Have you attempted to do that at all?

L: No, not as an individual, no.

I: Okay. Is there a need for that, do you feel?

L: I definitely feel there is a need for light industry--light small

industries. And other job opportunities--things that could create jobs.

FB 58A

FB 58A Bridges


L: And we brought in--of course, that was before my administration-we

brought in Coca Cola food over here. And that furnishes

employment for quite a few people in the golden triangle.

I: Uh huh.

L: And Mt. Dora most certainly could stand any number of small clean

industries of that nature.

I: So you feel that you would like some light industry. Why hasn't there

been any effort made to try to bring in some Have you found that--

L: Well, the general feeling has been that we have about as many people

as we want.

I: I see.

L: We don't want to encourage anybody else. If a depression comes, we're

going to have to provide for them and all. That's been the general

feeling, see, and so.

I; U. huh. Is unemployment a real factor in the black community here?

L: presently, there is definitely a need for employment. Of course, it's

a seasonal thing. See, you take sixty days from now and there'll be

plenty work. The citrus will be back in and the corn-the vegetable

farms out here and all. So it's just a periodical season thing that

effects most of the workers.

I: Okay. Just a few more questions.

L: That's all right. I really enjoy it.

I; You have mentioned revenue sharing. Has federal revenue sharing helped

in this area.quite a bit?

L: Yes, it has. Uh-huh.

I: You mentioned some things you used before--

L: The biggest I mean one of the most important things has been

the looping and extention of the fire hydrants. That was done through

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L: revenue sharing. And it's a we've used it for different

things, but that was a single project that we've used it for.

I: Do you remember any other things in particular that seemed to help

in the black community in terms of revenue sharing?

L: No, I don't believe there's anything.

I: Okay. Have there Been, in Mt. Dora, any black protests.or sit-ins,

Boycotts or even riots in the last ten years that you know of?

L: No, not as-not that materialized. There were some--a little unrest

here a few-years ago, But it never got out of proportion. There was

an incident-a local merchant down the street here-a man got--was hit

in his store. They claimed that he fell over and struck his head

against the cement or something. Anyway, he died as a result of the

incident, and that almost got out of proportion, but it was finally

resolved without problems.

I: Were there any demonstrations concerning that incident?

L: Yes-I- mean--well now, they were minor demonstrations. There was a

bunch of--well, they met down at the municipal building one night in

order that they would be able to get their grievances--not--I mean

some of their-let off some of their steam and what have you. We

opened the building and had them to come in. And they expressed

themselves and consequently, it soon, you know, tapered off. They

attempted to boycott the school for a while, and that soon withered.

And so it hasn't been--nothing got out of-really out of hand.

I; What happened to the man in the store?

L: He's still in business down there.

I: Okay.

L: The man has changed, though, considerably. He was a redneck and he felt

that--he was one of these kind that if you went to him-a black went to

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L: him and needed money, he'd let him have it. Of course, I guess he

was getting his interest and what have you. And he did any of a

number of favors. He extended credit to a large number and all, and

many of them didn't exactly deal fairly with them because when they'd

get the money, they didn't pay him or what have you. And he was the

kind who felt that he could go around and beat his money out of them.

He'd tell, he said now, if you don't pay me my money by such and such

a .time, he said I'm going to come beat the hell out of you. Well,

yes sir, yes sir. And so consequently, that kind of atmosphere

prevailed. And of course, as I said, recently he has changed. He's

realizing-well, he had several to challenge him out there, and he

got the worst end of two or three of the battles, see. Of course,

he was fair. He'd never go with a gun or anything--just fists.

I1 Uh huh.

L; And so consequently, he's learned his lesson. He'll tell you right

now that he's the first to try to swing with the tide. Things are

changing and he's realized that he had to change so there you are.

I:: What were the effect of that particular issue in the black and white

communities? Were there any lasting effects?

L: No. Not that I: know of.

I: It was relatively-minor?

L: Yes. Uh huh.

I; I have just a question or two to ask you about politics in Florida in


L: Uh huh.

I: And first of all, I wanted to ask you what your opinion of Governor

Ruben Askew is?

L: I have the highest regard for Governor Ruben Askew. I think he's a fine--

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L: first of all, he's a christian. He's a gentleman, and he's a man of the

highest integrity and he's well informed and versed in law. And I

think he's given Florida a program that we should feel proud of. Now

I: don't know how other people feel about it, but that's my feelings.

I: Do you think that he's been favorable in attitude and policy toward

blacks in Florida?

L: I think he definitely has--definitely has.

I: Are there any things in particular that he's done that you-

L: Well, he's -made recently, you know, several important appointments.

And well, he spoke&to the NAACP down here in Orlando about three or

four weeks ago. And I think in his appointments and his programs

outlined for likes in particular, I just feel that he's done-right

now I1 don't have in mind any particular ones, but I know-well, his

recent appointment of--I can't think of his name now.

I: The state supreme court justice?

L: Yes, that's right. Uh huh.

I; Yeah.

L: Yes, I think definitely.

I': How about other state officials or even your state representative? Do

you feel that in any way they've helped or even hindered advancement

in the black community? Are there any that stand out in your mind

in terms of--

L; Well, Senator Glissen for this particular area. I'm high on Senator

Glissen. I think he's very fair and partial. He's a man that is

approachable. You can get to him. He's always available to come to

you, and he has demonstrated by his programs that he's fair and impartial.
Vinc e
I think a lot of Senator Glissen. Also, /-. Specto and other fellows.

B_ 58A



L: I think Vince hasn't been as effective as Senator Glissen, but I think

that most certainly his approach is quite commendable.

I: Is he your representative?

L: He's a representative. Uh huh. And then they're others-Dick Langsley.

I don't think too much of Dick. Dick is more of an individual who

likes to maintain the status quo. He doesn't feel too much inclined

to favor blacks too much.

I: What's his position?

L: He's a state representative from this district over here.

I: Okay. Finally, just one last general question we'd like to ask you.

L: Uh huh.

I: And that is do you think that winning and holding office in Florida has

been worth the effort?

L: Definitely so. Yes I do. First of all, and for no other reason other

than to create an image for the future generation. It gives them

insight. It gives them a different motive. It give them a different

opinion as to the real worth of their vote. Blacks in particular, too.

You know, they were-for a number of years they accepted it--well, my

vote doesn't count. It's not going to help the situation any. And it

has helped there. And on the other hand, it has been a definite boon.

It has given the whites a different opinion of blacks. And it has

caused elected officials to realize that here we've got the black

people who now are contributing politically to the well being of the

state of Florida. And we owe them our support, and I think that definitely

it has been a great-I mean been a great benefactor to blacks in particular.

I: Uh huh. Have there been any negative aspects of holding office, do you feel?

L: Not that I have learned of any. I just don't.

I: Okay. What have been the effects on sort of you and your family personally

FB 58A Bridges


I: in terms of running for and holding office?

L: Well, I would say this-that from the white citizenry,'they have

welcomed it. They have looked upon it as a great accomplishment-

achievement. I've been well received, well supported from the blacks--

ten percent. I've been well received, well supported, and about 75 or

80 percent of black people could care less. It's just another position.

Many, of them have forgotten it. And so there you are.

I: Uh huh.

L: I have every service club--well, I'm a member of Mt. Dora's Kiwanis.

IVm on the Board of Directors of the mental unit at Waterman Memorial

Hospital. I'm on the Board of __United Appeals. I'm--was

approached to serve on the Board of Registry of Lake Sumter Junior

College. Ikve had to turn down office after office for my services

Because of the fact that I think it's all stemmed from the public

image that I've created and the service that I've been to Lake County

and the people of this community.

I: Uh huh. I guess you're spying that you feel unappreciated to some

degree in the black community.

L: Yeah, oh definitely. Well, it's human nature. It's just that you'll

find that--here's something that has come down through the ages. I

don't know whether you're familiar or not--I mean with the situation

during slavery. There were individuals who had key positions on the

plantation and what have you during slavery, and many of those positions

were thrust upon the individual because of their complexity and the

complex and what have you. And their personalities. And there was

created a hate, a jealousy among many of the field hands and what have

you. And that kind of thing has come down through the years. You can

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L: be ever so successful. You can be ever so sincere because, god knows,

my entire action-my entire desire is for improving this community for

black people.

I: Uh.huh.

L: But still, there are certain individuals who looked upon me as-well,

he's got what he needs. Hets just interested in self promotion, but

my entire input-my entire desire is to improve the conditions for all.

When I sit here and look out here at poor little black kids that I

know that haven't had enough to eat. When I was a school administrator,

many of them--we got clothes for them. We got food for them. Consequently,

because they are my people. I know the needs. I know the conditions.

I: know the homes that they came out of. And so consequently, you're

concerned about those kind of people, see. That's one reason. I feel

this. That most certainly, well, it should be now, but it is beginning

to have input now-beginning to take--have effect--fifteen years from

today integration--we'll begin--we will see results that are worth all

of the turmoil that we're going through now. But for the past--ever

sine '54 up until the present time, we are just beginning to make

inroads and we're just beginning to accomplish some of the things that

we set out to do. Many blacks--many black schools and well, they're

nonexistent now, but many black individuals--black students have

suffered because of integration. But the ultimate results of integration

is going to be rewarding, and it'll be worth all of this sacrifice that

were making. But heck, when I look here now, man, and they got the

automatic promotion--not retaining anybody-just passing them on. You

got your phases and you got your various program--work paid programs.

And you got--having black kids scheduled in four and five--I mean not

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L: that many--two and three courses of physical education. Not having the

proper guidance going into the--steering them into the programs that

they could achieve. Now when I was a school administrator, during the

days of black principals, I'll say this, there was a close affiliation

with.the faculty, the home, we felt the need of our youngsters. Our

objectives were to motivate them to achieve, and with the integration

of schools, that policy-that feeling has been dissipated. They are

places out there-I mean 90 percent of the white administration could

care less whether they achieved or not--just passing them on through.

Consequently, here you got a bunch of black kids coming from a

community that where their values are lowered off. What the heck, I'm

going to be promoted anyway. I'm going to play football anyway. I

remember when Layhe and the group of them--you couldn't play football

unless you achieved a certain-or couldn't participate in any form of

athletics unless you achieved up to a certain level.

I: Uh huh.

L: But that's gone now. It's to where they get out there to play,

and that's all they want.

I: Uh huh.

L: You take a--and so I feel that we have lost, but ultimately the gains will

be worth it all.

I: Okay. Thank you. I just have a couple other quick questions.

L: Okay.

I: Personal questions again.

L: Uh huh.

I: Just about you again--no names on this.

L: Okay.

I: Your occupation before election-I guess you said you were a principal?

FR 5.8A Bridges


L: I was a school principal.

I: Okay. Was that a high school or junior high or elementary.

L: Well, elementary.

I: Elementary?

L: Uh huh.

I: Your level of education?

L: Masters in education.

1: Masters degree?

L: Yeah.

I: Your age, if I may ask?

L: Sixty-six.

I: The salary you receive from your elected position as a councilman?

L': Let's see, what is it--$60.00 a month.

I: Sixty dollars?

L: Sixty dollars a meeting, yeah. Uh huh.

IS Is that what it has been since you were elected?

L: Yes, uh huh.

I: Were you active in the civil rights movement of the early and mid 1960's?

L: No. Not you know, active. I supported all the moves, but I didn't

participate in the demonstrations or what have you.

I: But you're a member of the NAACP?

L: Yes.

I: Okay. How about SCLC--Southern Christian Leadership Council?

L: No. UJhiu h.

I: What church do you belong to?

L: Bethel Free Methodist Church-a little church down the street here.

It's a church that we pulled from the AMA connection because of--we

felt that-here again, the demand/from the parent body were more than--

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L: They didn't take into consideration economic conditions of the members

and what have you. They always demanded more than the people were able

to do, and so we pulled out--severed our relationship with them.

I: Uh huh.

L: Set up an independent church.

I: Are you an official in your church?

L: Yes.

I: Okay. What position?

L: I'm chairman of the trustee beard.

I: Okay.

L: And I'm on the steward board.

I: What was your fathers occupation?

L: Farmer.

I: In Florida?

L: No, Georgia.

I:. I see. Okay. And finally, do you know of any other black elected officials

in this area?

L: Theres one down at Clermont. I don't recall his name.

I: Clermont?

L: Uh huh.

I: Was he just recently elected or has he been in office?

L: He's been in office, yeah.

I: Has he?

L: Uh huh.

I: Okay.

L: You don't have that roll of black elected officials, do you?

I: I do, but I don't have it with me. It's from the Joint Center of

FB 58A Bridges


I: Political Studies. Also, the Voter Education Project has one in Atlanta.

L: Uh huh.

I: We have the 1974 roster.

L: Let me see if I can find mine.

I: Okay. Thanks.

L: You have

I: Okay. So you feel you would like to have it become part of the oral

history project?

L: Yes.

I: Okay. This is Cauley Lott of Mt. Dora.

End of Interview--Side two

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