FB 63A 1.
Interyiewee: Jerry Taylor
Interviewer: Button Project
I:: ...is Jerry Taylor, councilman, Palm Bay, Florida. Address is 732 Randolph,
zip code is 32901, phone number is 1-305-727-0538. Date of interview is
I: Ok, question number one is what year did you, did you first register to vote?
T: I registered to vote in 1955.
I: Ok, what year were you first eligible to vote?
T: That's the year I was eligible in 1955 and I registered uh, I registered 'bout
a couple days after I just became 21.
I: Hmm, that's very good. Did the local registrars ever turn you down when you
applied to register?
T: No they didn't, did not.
I: Ok, number four. Have voter registration drives been held in the district in
which you hold office?
I: Ok, have they helped any?
T: Yes, they have.
I: Have any organizations helped you with the organiz-with doing this?
T: No more than the uh, North Palm Bay Civic Association.
I: Hmm, ok, when were these ro-voter registration drives held, what years?
T: Between uh, '64 and '65.
I: Have there been any recent ones?
T: Uh, we had one back in '68 I think it was, maybe '69.
I: Was it, was it very effective?
T: Yes, it was very effective.
I: Are these uh, drives mostly blacks coming into the registrar?
T: Uh, yes, at the time it was.
I: Are they, is this overall, white and black registration drives or just in the
T: Uh, at this particular time it was just for the black community.
I: Ok. Are there any other things which prevent blacks from registering to vote
in the districts at large?
T: Uh, no it's not.
I: No it's not? Ok, number six, please rate how important you think each of the
following items are in preventing blacks from registering to vote in your area.
As you see, it's very important, fairly important, and non important. Ok, the
first one, economic dependence on whites, ev, pl-ojed by whites.
T: Uh, it's uh, it's verywimportant.
I: Very important? Do you feel that if they work for a white that they don't
vote or that they do?
T: No, uh, if they work for work for whites, they uh,Athey'll vote.
I: They will?
I: But if they're working for blacks, that they, they don't seem to vote as often?
T: They don't seem to vote as often, right. Uh, I don't know why this is uh,
maybe it's because uh, they just unconcerned. But uh, if they work for whites
then uh, in some instances if they're working for a white, the white will
let 'em off in time, to, to vote.
I: -to go vote-
T: Especially in the daytime, he will.
I: Ok, do they fear any physical violence from whites by voting?
T: Uh, no.
FB 63A 3.
I: Is the registration forms, are they complicated?
T: No, the regis-registration forms, they are not complicated, they're, they're not.
I: Ok, how about registration hours, do they interfere at all?
T: Uh, no because sometimes they have uh, special uh, hours set aside for working
people. ou, koJ take most that might uh, remain open from eight,
eight, eight-thirty at night on a Friday night or something Ikk 4i1-oR tSP
r-a-lirksc are- oTY Athy close. They remain open late hours.
I: That's very good. Are the registration hours, are they held often enough,
T: Sure, the registration hours are held uh, long enough, but they, )you -' /o0 bkfore4
certain amount of days, about a month Before election day
they close the books up, then they open the Books up again, but they are,
a-7 -__ found out -
I' So in other words, anyone can just go register--
T: They can go-
I: -with no problems.
T: -right, right.
1 Is there an indifference of blacks towards the voting?
T: Uh, now it is, some of 'em seem to think that uh, uh, the voting doesn't
do any good, and all of 'em I come in contact with, I tell 'em that, that
voting does do some good. They, then they get off on the party situation
which is the Republican Party doesn't do right, and Democrat Party doesn't
do right, 'stype of thing so I still tell them uh, that's they privilege
to go out and register and vote, anyway.
I: Ok, section B, the following questions are asked to gather information on the
election campaigns of black elected officials in Florida. Question seven,
were you able to campaign freely?
FB 63A 4.
T: Uh, yes I was, as a matter of fact uh, about three or four days before elections,
I'll take off my job to, to do it, .. campaign.
I:: That's good. Did you receive any kind of threats?
T: Uh, no uh, only one and I, it wasn't a threat but uh, the guy gave Yv'- Sv.MA
talking' and uh, I talked to him about thirty minutes and finally when I left
he was my friend. He laughed and talked and all of it was forgotten about.
I: Were you handicapped By lack of campaign money?
T: Sure Claughl.
T: That's a Big, that's a big, that's a big handicap right there. Specially the
poor man's- (laughl.
I: Why did you decide to run for office.
T: See uh, I got tired of the way these (clears throaty excuse me, these politicians
sweet-talked you,, aime for election and then when they get in
office, they'll, they'll forget about you,.yeahR and I'll start-
1: Now you mean the white politicians forget about the blacks or just in general,
T: In in general, everybody forgets and -uh, A~, Ji -'~-~s-they'11 come to
you and sweet-talk you maybe, maybe a month or three weeks before the
election. Then after they get into office- got the 'vote Babe, and that's
it, you know. And then after I was very active in the community I was
asked by people, by parents to run and I decided to run, so I ran in 1970,
and '71 and I was defeated by 56 votes and I came right back, right back
again in '72 and I won by 100 and some~WBMvotes 'bout 150, and '74 I
ran for re-election and I p-polled more votes than anybody ever got out of
the city of Palm Bay.
I: Very good. To which political organization do you Belong?
T: I'm a a Democrat.
I: Democrat? Do you ever receive support-" om the Democratic Party in terms of
money or finance?
T: Uh, no I haven't, no. All my campaign ran strictly on my own, uh, 'cos I
didn't have anybody to give me the money because Csound of a train whistle
in the Background)...
I:: Question 11, what were they two or three most important issues on which you (
T: Ok, my three, two or three most important issues were, water and sewage,
uh, recreation, and a total community _____just one community
for everything, which uh, this we happened to do, we've got the water and
sewage and the-ther c-L We got one of the best recreation
programs in the county and uh, we on our way now to a total community.
I: Ok. Do you think that these issues were the main problems facing blacks
in your community?
T: Uh, yes, they was because uh, as far as recreation, for example, there was
just a few blacks on the recreation program, and after I got elected uh,
to the council, I (clears throat) excuse me, I worked hard for this and uh,
I knew we had Blacks that wanted to participate in recreation and now we have
7 a _____ number of blacks in our recreation program uh, water
sewage, the blacks didn't have uh, sewage so, we attained uh, a grant from
the Federal Government, we got that and uh, the old part of Palm Bay,
didn't have water and sewage, so we got water and sewage as well. That's
what I meant by uh, a total community, oa-cvnrse ms of 6 c._ have
water and sewage, and the old section of Palm Bay did not have water and sewage.
I: So now everybody has water and sewage?
T: Right, water and sewage, right.
I: Ok, these-next set of questions I'm going to ask you are to determine some
of the conditions which have enabled blacks to win office in Florida. Ok,
question number 12, how were you elected, at large or by district?
T: At large.
I: Ok, how many people were, are in the city?
T: We've got approximately 4,300 registered voters. Uh, registered voters, but
uh, there approximate uh, city about 13,000.
I: 13,000? What percentage of the population in your city is black, a rough
T: About two percent.
I: About two percent?
T: Two percent. Not much (laugh).
I: About what percentage of voting age in your city or district are registered
T: Uh, we have approximate uh, four percent.
I: Four percent?
T: Four percent, yes.
I: So of the two percent of the city, four percent of those are registered to
T: Registered to vote-
I: Ok, question 16, about what percent of blacks who are registered to vote,
do you estimate actually voted when you were elected?
T: I estimate about uh, three percent of' em voted
I: Uh huh, so you nhinrx~ s had a very good turnout.
T: Yes, almost.
I: It was a very good turnout.
FB 63A 7,
T: Right, it was.
I: Do you think you got-well, we know you got many votes from the whites, do
you think they were major?
T: Uh, no within the city of Palm Bay itself, the whites knew, uh, they knew me,
they knew what type of fellow I was, they know what I've meant for the
community, they know what type, type of job I have been doing in the
community and uh, they went out and they supported me. 'Matter of fact, _T2
my first .Sg-dfcar 2oipy -4o run, back in uh, '71, my former schoolteacher
told me say uh, you shouldn't run 'cos you will not be elected. I said
what 'd you mean? He said you don't have enough blacks to put you in office.
I said wait, I said Palm Bay is my home, I'm not running only black votes,
I say sure I hope to get them, I say but r'm r -; t re Crc the
city of Palm Bay. And that's what I did and so when I was elected he was
the first person to call me and congratulate me.
I: Do you feel that you, that you really uh, for the city of Palm Bay-
T: Yeah, A,^ A A ^ right, ctAIc. .
I: Ok, what was the percentage that you won by?
T: Let's see, I pulled uh, uh, about 1197 votes and myn next opponent pulled at about)
or .- 1,000 I thinkV
abmnh maybe 900 or something.
I: Ok, how many opponents did you have when you
T: Uh, there were together uh, three. One of them was a former commissioner,
and he was running for re-election and I...Beat him.
I; So you beat the incumbent?
T: Right, yes.
I: And uh, was that the first time you ran?
T: Yeah, the first time I ran uh,...
I: -it was in '72?
T: Yeah, no the first time I ran was in '71, he beat me.
r: He beat you.
T: Right, then in '72 I came back and I heat him. And then in '74 he try to
come back again and I Beat him again. (laugh)
I: Ok, we already asked the next question, ok, section D, this is question 20;
in what ways do you think you have helped Blacks in your district by holding
T: Well, in my district, which I think I've helped Blacks, if&e4- I said earlier,
I: The city in general-
T: c-L4' uh, we got things that we never have gotten before, we've
gotten things that uh, that we needed that the other city officials were
scared to tackle and we just got a hold onto the rope and we just
the rope end-now, We got some uh, we got some things done, we got funds
V i"-u 4- - -VJ-> s-yl( u
to do this with, we got, the streets are not paved bJBAtheanreE-wh,
three, two to three years we hope to have the streets paved but uh, we
just better the road conditions that we had in our community and I'll be
uh, 4C+ c oacc. L, the roads are better than they've ever been
I: Do you think that uh, this is because you're black, that you're helping the
black community or, or de white officials do the same thing?
T: See, uh, in the area, in this community, uh, the whites have uh, looked
over the area.
I: They've Bypassed it?
T: Bypassed the area, yes. And now in some, in uh, not in Palm Bay, but there's
some areas in general, some cities rather, uh, and they*e G-f(17 Co
funds, and they get those, these funds, and when the funds runs out, oL' /L.eA
always runs out in the black community, before it get to the black community,
? rather. But, uh, with this council that we have we was actually
question about the blacks, say ok, now after you applying for these funds,
would the funds run out, run out before they get to the black community and
uh, we told them no, as a matter of fact the funds would begin in the black
community and that's what, that's what we did.
I: Ok, number 22, please rate how important you think the following items are in
preventing you from doing a better joB for benefitting blacks, ok. This is
like the question before, ok, office has no real authority-
ST: Office you mean ?
I: Does your, the office that you hold, do you have authority to do something
can you get something done?
T: Uh, see what happened, uh, I have to uh, bring it to the attention of the
other councils and then if uh, they if I, T have sev, several ideas that
need to be done we can do them.
I: Ok, are you outvoted by white officials by the other councilmen?
T: Uh, no uh, on some, some aspects, we win some, we lose some, but it's
I: How many councilmen are there?
T: We have uh, four councilmen and the mayor.
I: And, are there any other blacks beside yourself?
T: No, I'm or // one.
I: You're the ONLY ONe )
FB 63A 10.
I: So that's good that you're not outvoted By -.- ~s
T: No, right, see as it is now we got about a, a, on every issue it be, be about
at least about three or ttwov\'\-_--'_-_.______ and -uh, iuh as I said 'fore,
we win some and we lose- some- but -uHI, I'n not outvoted just Because I"m a
E: So that you feel they, look at you as just another comnici\man,, not, not
that you're colored?
T: Right, right the councilman does it and also, the c- uh, the citizens of Palm
Bay does it. They don't look at me just because r"m black, say no, say uh,
he's black, say no he's our commissioner, too.
I: So you don't feel that you're prejudiced against 'cos you're black.
T: No, no, no I'm not, matter of fact, uh, uh, this city here is surprising,
because, several times I've heard people say-well they got Ku Klux Klan
in the Palm Bay, 'know, and I say well, that's nothing' you got Ku Klux Klan,
everywhere, you know? And uh, we get here, we have a nice time. When I,
when I first governed the council, you know being the first black ever
elected, I felt a little shy, you know, as a matter of fact any black
person would that go, and they be the first black ever go and they do
the type of job or something you know, they feel a littler, But after
then, I opened up and I feel fine, just like E-cel e-mr',c,.cr5str .
I: Ok, is there not enough revenue available for you to help the people?
T: Uh, no that we definitely need, we need revenues in the city itself. We
can't afford to get all the needs that we need in the city. Excuse me, but,
I just hope and uh, through some ea. -_ kwt the state or the
federal government or somebody will give us some more subsidies to uh,
do some things that we need, better things that we need.
I: Were you unfamiliar with the administrative duties when you first started to
T: Uh, no, I had to learn them.
I: Ok. Ok, was-, ok, you've already stated that you had cooperation from whites
T: Uh huh.
I: Ok, did you lack cooperation from the blacks, from the. black community?
T: What did you say?
I: Did you lack cooperation, did they help you at all?
T: Yes, they did, they helped me, uh huh.
I: Ok, did you have any problems with state officials?
T: Uh, no I didn't have any problem with state officials, as a matter of fact,
Senator Lawton Chiles and also Representative Bill Nelson, they kind of
encouraged me to run because when Senator Chiles walked the state, I had
the privilege of, privilege of walking in Melbourne with him. And I had
the privilege of helping Representative Bill Nelson campaign as well and uh,
and I'm pretty well know throughout the state and now" I'm known in Washington
with some of our representatives in Washington as well.
I: That was the next question, cooperation from federal officials, that's very
good, ok. What is, what if anything has prevented you from doing a better
job, especially in regard to benefitting blacks in the city?
T: Well, one of things is that as far as travel expenses with the city have,
there are lots of meetings that I like to attend and being a poor commissioner
myself, you know I just can't, ? I) R-;C n A I just can't take
off and go myself and then the city have just a certain amount set up for
travelling and then there, I'm losing out on other black officials, meetings
that they're having and uh, we have enough funding to do this that I can hang
around there with those.
I: Ok, question 23, in a sense you've already answered this, but I'd just like to
go over it again here. Has criticism or lack of support from the black community
hindered you in holding office?
T: Well, see uh, sometime in the black community where they black fellow is elected
they think you should change the world, in one day. Uh, we just can't do this
and then when, when we doesn't do this they brand us as Uncle Tom, and I tell
em quick uh, black people are just beginning to get involved in politics, and
we have to learn to crawl before we can walk and we just can't do everything
that they want us to do because this, we, we working for the entire city
where were ar-, uh, uh, was elected.
I: Ok. Do you feel that the criticism has prevented you from doing a better job?
T: Uh, no I feel the criticism hay-has helped me because uh, uh, anytime somebody
criticize me, I look and see what I'm doing If they say I'm not doing anything
I look around and then I: say I am doing something and I just uh _
for a better job.
I: Do you feel that white official treat you differently from the other
T: Uh, no, uh, I don't feel this way,, in some cities they might will, but in
Palm Bay, we get along just like a family. Matter of fact, I said before,
it really surprised and I'm glad of this, to see how the minds of people
have changed and uh, we go up for, have a legal citizens meeting once a month,
executive board meeting, and we get along fine. There's never been a
hassel because I'm black, they're white or nothing.
I: Do you consider yourself a spokesman for the blacks?
T: Sure, right, I consider myself a spokesman for the blacks because uh, I try
to keep them informed of what happens and then uh, I KXXEK get some input
from them and I give them input.
I: Do you feel that if you were not there, they would not have a spokesman?
T: Well, if, put it this way-
I: Say another white was in your place.
T: Ok, if I wasn't there, I don't think that they would, because before I got
there we had other officials, white officials and uh they didn't, didn't do
I: Question 25; what services have you provided in your city that they did not
have before you took office, and please give examples.
2 T: Ok, as I said before we had the water and sew-sewage we
nev-never had that before and we got more streetlights now than, we've ever
THOSE WERE THE TWO MAIN
have before and uh, taHGK XKaSXS-1 things that we didn't have before.
We had uh the sewage and also and also uh, and also uhi uh, streetlights.
I:; phone rings) -you wanna' get that, I'll shut it off? Like I said, it's
gonna' be edited so you don't have to worry too much. Question 26, this
is another one of those rating _. Please rate how you,
how effective youphave been in each of the following service areas. They'
all might apply, or none, none of them may, so just reply or make a comment
if you feel like it, police protection.
T: V1 i police protection I think I've been somewhat effective, uh,
and now pr-,in'Cplc~ & re /C CLt A Ucw u__ election time, type thing
but before this came up I think I was somewhat effective with the e__-oM. Q-A
department because uh, some type of -CF- people calledAand
I refer them to the police department and I also told them how to go about
I: Streets and roads...?
T: Streets and roads are, we working with streets now but uh, we had roads
before, but uh, the roads now is in better condition than they ever been
before in the city of Palm Bay.
I: So you feel you were very effective?
I: Ok, housing.
T: Uh, the housing, I haven't been too effective yet because uh, speaking of
these black communities around here, the areas we live in, people live on very
low income and some is on welfare, this type of thing. We have very few
people up there with highly skilled jobs and the housing condition now is
somewhat poor in that area. That's why we hope to get some funds or
something to helphthis area out.
T: Uh, yes, welfare's a big hinderance too in that area and that's uh while
7 uh, I think this type of thing because uh,
we need better housing, we need better facilities and things from
I: So you're not effective in this area? You haven't been able to do anything?
T: Uh, not too much no,....
T: Employment, I have been very effective, very effective in this uh, now
before, I was on city council, we had uh, one black fellow on it, that
worked for the city of Palm Bay and since the time I got, was elected
he was at the retirement age so he retired and so now we have uh, quite
a number of blacks working for the city of Plam Bay, we have uh, two
black policemen, uh one left the city because he got a better paying
job, and one got fired on account of his record. And uh,
in the fire department we had one black fellow in the fire department
but uh, he was in the service and he decided to go back in the service
because he was going back in ci+ a higher rank.
FB 63A 15.
I: Parks and recreation?
T: Uh, park and recreation, uh we have quite a number of blacks in the recreation
department, we got quite a few blacks working with the parks and recreation.
I: Water sewage and garbage?
T: Uh, water sewage and garbage, we got blacks working in those uh, they've been
very effective in that too, and uh, we've got blacks w'rL i, 1kor dc4rncm
I: Ok, have you been effective with health and hospitals in this area?
T: Uh, no, I have not.
I: Are there, is there a hospital in Palm Bay?
T: Uh, not in Palm Bay, there's one in Melbourne.
I: Ok, have you been effective with education?
T: Uh, yes, with education, I've been pushing with this, I worked very
closely with the schoolboard officials and now and uh, Stone Middle School
down in Melbourne we have a, what you call a, by working with them, we have
a community school. And people from Palm Bay, as well as Melbourne, attend
the school and the school is very well affected.
I: Fire protection, is fire protection very safe?
T: Uh, yes, the fire protection in the city of Palm Bay is very safe and I
work close with them and I think it's uh, very effective.
I: Question 27, have you gotten federal funds for your city?
T: Uh, yes, we've got federal funds for our cities, about three months ago,
I made a trip to Washington D.C. to talk with some, some officials,
which is Senator Lawton Chiles and Senator Richard Stone and Congressman
Lou Frey and uh, we got $91,000, it's appropriated, we haven't got it
yet, but I'm pretty sure that we'll get it this year and then that will
make a start, and then if this money's used wisely, next year we will
get more and it's running, I think it was, about a five-year period.
And we'll be getting more and more each year. That's about as L uS-1 4- cr
amount of money as we get.
I: Are there any other black leaders that have helped to get these funds?
T: Uh, yes we have Mr. u. P. Gibbs and also Mr. Palmer and Mr. George
Gaines. They gave some good insight on what to do.
I: Ok, question 28, have you as an elected official been able to bring industry
or retail stores into your area?
T: Uh, I been on the, we did it as a team, we worked with oWr
came in here about four years ago and they've been expanding
ever since. And Pepperige Farim, have about 350 people,
uh, Pepperige Farm, it's a great company, they're, they've already bought
land in our Industrial Park. They 'sposed to came in this year, but you
know, as economy dropped, they kinda' hanging off a little while but they
will be here approxiJ-c-eL next year. Now Harris, uh, Harris Semi-
conductors out here, we have uh, 5-, about 5,000 personnel. They've been
a great assess to our community.
I: Are they hiring a lot of blacks?
T: Yes, they're hiring lots of blacks, yes, they are.
I: Ok, have you been able to see that blacks are hired fairly in local
T: Uh, that's been my main issue uh, to try to get them to hire blacks.
Now in some companies they'll frown on this, you know, and then some of them
will hire you, for example _f_____-_i _, Harris, for example, they used
to hire Blacks time for to get, to get a contract. You know Ov-&Li -tl ,
the government official come down and say, well, we got X number of blacks
and then once they, they get the contracts a.ed .-tL they turn the
blacks off, Now uh, on the other hand, you have, you
probably have some blacks about six or eight years,
on the, on the other hand you got whites been out there for about 20, 25
years, this type of thing and uh, when they lay off blacks, they lay them
off in whole dozens, two dozen, this type of thing and then the time for
a contract again they come back and they have them, but uh, after talking
with someHREXH of them out there, uh they seem to be Iedc c o( p6-f
St this town. Matter of fact, I jumped on my uh, company I was employed
by about six months ago, n-v ca r \ the same. thing, and now they are,
they are doing better.
I: What company are you employed by?
T: Pan American World Airways at Cape Canaveral.
I: Has Federal Revenue Sharing helped you in your city?
T: Uh, yes, they helped in our city to the extent, not jobs, but to, in order
to get some equipment that we needed to work with desperately. Because we
didn't have some equipment that we needed, uh, we couldn't get it and
so we got this Federal Funding, we got it, this equipment with this.
I: Ok, question 31, have there been any black protests, sit-ins, boycotts,
or riots in your city in the last ten years?
T: Uh, not in the City of Palm Bay, no we haven't and uh, I've been trying to
keep peace and harmony in the city by working with the police department and
working with the uh, uh, recreation department, also with the fire department,
and at this rate, and working with the peoples in the stores and at this
rate, we've uh, been able to keep peace and harmony within the City of
I: Are the policemen fair?
T: Yes, the policemen are fair, yes. But I: heard they -had some guy there, kinda'
rough but uh, when I hear this I get with the fellow myself and check him out
thoroughly, you know, that type of thing and see how everything going.
I: Section E; the following questions are asked to enable an assessment of black
politics in Florida, in general. Question 32, briefly, what is your opinion
of governor Ruebin Askew?
T: Actually my opinion of Governor Ruebin Askew, I think he's one of the best
4r- r- 4-saoLir-cA A-k-
governors that Florida has ever had. He has uh, been aeteuqdi im- blacks
with a lenience towards them and uh I think that every black politician
in 4t-c-td- will uh, say this about Governor Askew.
I; What is your opinion of other state officials, state representatives.
T: Well, uh, my opinion of others, some of 'em is fair and some are not too
I: You mean in general, towards blacks orAtowards your city?
T: Oh no, uh, towards our, towards blacks. Now uh-
I: Could you explain it?
T: Yes, I think uh,uh, I think Shevin, Shevin is fair, uh, uh, I think Graham,
Senator Graham, I think he's fair, and then uh, Smathers, I think Smathers
he's on shakey ground and uh, although he's a young fellow, but uh, I don't
think he's leaning towards, towards blacks.
I: You think he's, more or less, only comes to the black side when he has too.
T: Yes, right, when he wants something
I: Do you think that winning and holding office in Florida has been worth
T: Uh, yes, I do because Florida as I say, Florida's a good state and we have
some good peoples in Florida and cc--- black elected official
uh, I think they're proud of uh, that they are are, is elected because uh,
it's the growing thing in Florida.
I: Are there any negative aspects of holding an office?
T: No, I don't think so.
FB 63A 19.
I: Would you run again?
T: Sure, wte--ftr-4A time comes, if I can get the money (laugh).
I: Do you think that you would seek higher office at any time.
T: Uh, sure, this is my ambition now to seek a higher office uh, uh, perhaps
a mayor job, seat, and then from there to county commissioner and then on
up to representative, this type of thing, gone up to, some day I hope to
go to Washington.
I: How old are you?
T: I'm 40.
I: Still young, you still have time.
T: I could (laugh)
I: Section F; these questions are asked to compile an overall group profile of
black elected officials in Florida. Question 34, what type of office do you
hold, or have you held, is this the only office you've had?
T: This is the only one I've had.
T: Councilman, right.
I: Ok, date that was first elected was in '72?
I: November of '72?
T: November of '72, right.
I: And the date you took office?
T: Uh, Nov, about November 6, '72.
I: Right away?
T: Right away, right.
I: Ok, question 34, number of times you ran for office?
T: Uh, three times.
FB 63A zU.
I: Three times, and you're going to run again?
T: Right I'll run again, sure.
I: Ok, and your age is 40.
T: 40 years of age.
I: Your occupation before the election?
before I was elected.
T: Uh, at the time before the election I was uh, uh custodian faxxhkkx_
I: And now you work for-
T: I work for Pan American now I'm as a --rd____ helper.
I: Ok, what was your father's occupation?
T: He's a laborer.
I: And the, your education?
T: I have a highschool education and uh, I've taken a few hours at Brevard
Community College, and I'm going to further that at the first of the year.
I: What's the salary you've received?
T: On the council?
T: Uh, council that's 2500 a year.
I: 2500 a year?
I: Were you active in the Civil Rights movement of 1960 and 66?
T: No more than right here in local, in Brevard County.
I: What capacity did you hold here?
T: Uh, going from door to door and knocking to get people to register to vote.
I: What church do you belong to?
T: I'm a member of the Baptist Church on Florida Avenue in Palm
Bay. I'm a deacon there and on Trustee Board, I'm a member of the choir and
also Sunday school teacher.
FB 63A 21.
I: Hmm, very active in your church. Ok, are there any other community organizations
or activities that you are involved in, besides the church?
T: Uh, yes I'm a Master Mason 318, 318 and uh, I'm on
Representative Bill Nelson's Advisory Committee, I'm on the Advisory Committee
for the Board of Community Education, it, that's adult training, adult
education, also on the Advisory Committee for Vocational Training for the
I: In these other organizations are there other blacks involved too, or mostly
T: Mostly whites, mostly whites, now on this, uh, vocational training, there are
two more blacks on there.
I: Does your community have many other black off-black people that are highly
motivated like yourself?
T: Uh, yes occasionally, when I've taken, you know I've taken part in it sometime
we have some tendency to sit back and relax where I'm never relaxed, I'm always
trying to dig up something you know, the best, the best for the community.
I: Do you consider yourself as the black leader in this community?
T: Yes, I feel I am.
I: Ok, what effects have running for office, running and holding office had
on you personally and your family?
T: Well, they uh, they get tired but they uh, so far there haven't been no
conflicts or anything because uh, when I come from work I say I'll see you
after awhile, this kind of thing, I might see them three or four hours later,
sometimes six hours later but they uh, they know I'm going out on a good
cause trying to help people.
I: They're proud of you?
FB 63A 22.
T: Right they're proud of me, right because of before, the city
on the sanitation we had a company out of Melbourne and
uh, we decided to do it ourselves and to create jobs for our people, the
people in Palm Bay, and then uh, we went on the blank, and I had to lose
about nine days of my job myself to come in and work to get this garbage
and put it on a good track and so I used to leave home uh, 4 'o clock
in the morning get back at 10 'o clock at night and uh, seven days a week
I: Good. Do you know any other black elected officials in this area who have
been in office since 1974?
T: Uh, yes Mr. l~;ju Montgomery, he been in he's in Melbourne. He's
in Melbourne, he's been in there I think it's or aboj- eight six years
I: Any others?
T: Uh, excuse me Mr. Montgomery rather, he was in there, in there before '74
and I'm I'm the only black in this area that elected since '64, '74.
I: Ok, are there any general comments that you would like to make regarding this
T: Uh, yes I would like to, the statement that I would like to make that
any black official, especially if he's running for office, he's just going
to have to forget about the black vote and get out there and get the voters-
I: -Voters in general?
T: Voters in general, because uh, in no city uh- in Florida can you win just
on the black votes alone, because we live together in a city where you
have to work for m~ family and I have to work for mine so uh, we going
to have to go out there and work together to uh, to get the votes and this
thing that in the past we uh, I just want the black vote and I'm going to
FB 63A 23.
work for the blacks, this type of thing is gone, we got to get out there
because you're living in the city you've got to get there and work for
the people and if he get out there and work for the people and get the
people behind him he will be elected.
I: How do you think you can motivate the black people in general to want to
change things to want to become part of the community as one?
T: Uh, now number one, I think if they have uh, the main thing they have is
jobs and then they'll, they'll see where they're jobs are concerned and
then I think that'll be one of the biggesmotivaters right there. And before
I was talking to a young man from Viet Nam, and he's back and he hadn't worked
in two years, this type of thing, you know, he say uh, why in the hell should
I have gone in the service C
back here and there's no work or nothing, he hadn't worked in maybe three
years or better this type of thing but I think if they had some type of
jobs to go to, then there fore I think they'd be motivated right there
Because uh, because uh, you catch a guy on the street if he not doing a
darn thing, excuse me, if he not doing a thing he care less about registering
I: That's true, but wouldn't you feel that if, if uh, everything is going
against him that maybe he'll feel that if he votes for a black or for
somebody who talks like they're going to help the blacks that he can
change it by voting?
T: Uh, sure, but uh, I know I found out this several years about some fellows
I work with they saying well they reflecting about the white
politician out doing this and the white politician out doing that, I say
uh, have you considered the black fellows and they say well say, what
can we do? I told them to go out and uh, check and uh you know, get the
right type of fellow, you get a guy who who been involved in the. community
FB 63A 24.
and various activities, a guy who is respected in the community and get
behind the fellow and start talking it up, and then uh, this can happen,
a fellow can be elected this way. But uh, I wouldn't want nobody to re-
present me who was a rC-ejS] 4pc. fellow and somebody got all types of
records and that type of thing and then if he get elected, he get into
the So-k- -and all. Tear up city hall, this type of thing
destroy the city, we, we, we can't stand this.
I: Your city is growing fast.
T: Yes, my city is about one of the fastest growing cities in the state, but
what happened this economy you know in the last couple of years, slowed
I: Is that because directly related to Cape Canaveral, you think?
T: Uh, yes the Cape, after the Cape start cutting' back, and then uh, people
start holding onto their monies, this type of thing and then uh, everything
just held off for a while. But uh, about the firslof the year I'm looking
for building and things to zoom right back again in the city.
I: Why did your city start to get a city manager? Why did you get one?
T: See, Before we had a city administrator and uh, the lady picked
she was,_.. n campaign, she campaign on city managing government, but
the city administrator that we had before, he uh, was a you know, Dracula,
this type of thing, and then we finally had to uh, ask him to leave. Now
one night they wanted to get rid of him and I didn't know about it 'til
I got to the commissioners meeting they say it was some things that he had
done, and I, of course, I voted against it, because I wanted to find out
the facts, and then after I found out the facts and uh, he did this again
and we asked him to, to leave_
I: Your community in general, seems to be very fair, hut how about the outlining
areas? Are they as fair toward blacks s-
T: Uh, sure they are, outlining area's fair now uh, Melbourne, which has the
largest number of blacks, uh, they have a black commissioner, they have
uh, black policeman, they have uh, black detective, black sergeant,
this type of thing and they have black people working for the city and
uh, this type of thing.
I: Is: there any thing in particular that you hope this research project will
he able to do for the Blacks in general in this state of Florida?
T: I hope to be uh, this survey in general will help us to create more jobs
uh, better housing, and also uh, uh, a better that we can uh, get together
know our elected officials better and Tm quite sure. with a survey like
this being made in the uh, distribution' throughout, I'm pretty sure that
something will come out of this survey uh- beneficial to our entire state.
I: Do you think that it will help the blacks, because of this type of survey.
T: Uh, sure, I'm pretty sure it will because uh, if- -h "ov i o1- Ai u.. 1'A
that I had the opportunity to uh, have a person come in to make a survey
I:: Ok, thank-you very much sir.
T: Thank-you been nice chattin' with you.