Sub: William Turner
Int: Botton Project
I: Mr. Turner, the first section we're gonna do is section A and it helps
deal with how well blacks adapted to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and how
..... how it has helped in take part in Florida politics. First question
number one: What year did you first register to vote?
W: UhI first registered in 1952 when I was.... when I became twenty-one years
I: So that was the first year you were eligble?
I: O.K. Number three..... bachelor number two. Did the local registrars ever
turn you down when you tried to register?
I: O.K. Four: Have any registration drives been held in the district that
you hold office in?
W: Yes. Uh/they have been held since..... oh since I..... well since 1952.
I: All.... Every...... Every year?
W: Every year since 1952 there have been voter registration drives well in
7 that district by Charles Hac_(_ who is a big political figure and a
black guy in this county. Also it was held by the uh laborer's union
7 uhby Joe when he was president of that particular union. Uh,
Neal Adams who's on 27th Avenue now is black county commissioner appointed
by the government to take care of voter registration drives right in his
W: grocery store. Uh, there are any number of organizations and people who
have worked in an attempt to register people. I've also worked to register
people. Uh,in fact, in Dade County now we have 101,000 uh registered
I: So would you say these voter registration drives were very successful?
W: They're very successful and I think that blacks in Dade County are becoming
more aware of the fact that you have three ingredients going as far as
being aggressive or progressive or which ever way you'd like to refer
to i-masq. education, politics, and economics. And they're becoming
astute enough to know that unless they have black representations on these
boards and in public office, that they aren't gonna get anywhere to any
extent of trying to immina the kinds of things that should be eliminated
uh,that will create a fairness when the pie is cut up. Ya know?
I: Right. Has there been anything preventing blacks from registering?
W: Not to my knowledge in Dade County. Now, previously uhmy grandmother and
those uh who came to this town in 1902 from Tampa,'Florida, uh,they indicated
several things to me that occurred during the time that they were trying
to register, but not since I've been of age.
I: O.K. Question six: Please rate how important you think each of the following
items are in preventing blacks from registering to vote in your area. Number
one. Now, this.....On these questions, you would rate them very important,
fairly important, not important and then try to explain why you rated it that
I: Question one: Economic dependence on whites.
W: Well, I don't think...... I don't think that really applies to..... to the
blacks in this county because uh many of your whites in the this county
are encouraging blacks to register, ya know? Uh and I think..... I don't
...... I don't think that u ..... a applicable to Dade County. Uh but
looking at it in a different sense, and maybe this is another question
in there that you're gonna come to. Uh, for;a black elected official, uh,
it sometimes..... it's a problem in that when you begin to spouse uh,
things that you see and principles that you have and situations that you
speak on, uhyou say some things which.most folk don't even want to hear,
ya know and then they begin to want to deal with you as an individual instead
of dealing with the facts that you're Espousing. Consequently, uhI have
heard some people say that /ell,if we want to get rid of Bill Turner,
then what we can do is make a contribution to the college where I used
to work and uh ask them to just get rid of him, ya know and that you'll
make this contribution every year. But that didn't happen. The reason that
I was terminated at Florida Memorial College is simply because uh,the
Dean of the College who was Lester B. Brown, uh constantly went into the
president's office indicating that I was never at work and that he felt
that it was a waste of time. But, when you're suspect situation and look
at the job that I was holding which was placement director of that institution,
I placed more students in one year that graduated from Florida Memorial College
than they did in the entire time that they were in ...... in St. Augustine.
And I used to go to work maybe si4x or vseve u'luck- in the evening and work
until twelve and e e-at night and programmed my secretary so that any events
that I was out of town, I had some conferences to attend, that the job
W: would still go on and the people would be placed >i service but when the
president retired, who was Dr. Roy Purrier (telephone rings),
then they made Dean Brown the acting president......
I: Do you want to answer that? We can shut it off. (stop tape for a moment)
W: After the president, who was Roy W. Purrier, retired, then the trustee
board made Dean Brown acting president and his first move in the..... in
the very first meeting he was inin Orlando with the trustees board was
to recommend to them that they fire me. At that time they didn't do anything.
And he came up before the board again and refomended to the board that uh,
they fire me and.... and they terminated me. Their rationale was that they
did a study on my position and found that uh,it was one of those positions
that was not necessary to the functioning of an institution which was a lie
because they.... they never.... The people that uh did the study never talked
with me and uhit's just ironic that he terminated me with all of the things
that I did for the institution because I got the county to put up lights on
20....... on 42nd Avenue, the A paid-4f lights and it was pitch
dark out there and the students at night couldn't even see how to get to
the door. And they were being stopped uh)by men in cars and the girls were
uh...... just trying to...... the people in the cars were trying to rape
the girls and all this kinda thing. So, I got the county to put up lights
out there. I also got the electricians union to put in uh..... uh P.A.
systems in both of the girls dormitories. Uh they cost $24,000.86 at no
\A&^; +k -e
cost to the institution. They had a tax bid of $169,000,O wh4eh Dade County
uh tax assessor's office and I went down there and spoke to them about it
and got that knocked out for them. I got $298,000,,e for them t5
W: t. tis program. I got almost $400,000,86in a drug program from the uh.....
from the federal government. Uh I also uh....... Turn it off 'cause I don't
remember some other things........ (tape turned off for a moment)
The federal government was about to close the institution because of the
mishandling that they ..... the federal government said that there was some
mishandling of some funds in the federal program and there was no mishandling
of funds from the federal program and the federal government moved to close
that institution. I got on the phone and got some political intervention
and said to the congressmen and the senators uh from this area and the
state of Florida that uh, I needed some political intervention um, with
the Atlanta office of uh HEW to keep that institution open. I kept the
institution open, I wouldn't allow them to close the institution. On the
very date that they terminated me, March the 12th, I spent my own money to
go to New York City and had an appointment with Dr. Charles Smith, who uh is
with the RockAfeller Foundation, in an attempt to secure funds for Florida
Memorial College. It was agreed upon that they would give the institution
$700,000,jO as of September of this year and /hen they called to speak to.....
uh the president of the institution and to find out if I was still there and
they were told that I wasn't there, then the foundations said that they
always put money behind people and not institutions and because they had
terminated me on the very day that I spent my own money ..... to go to
Talla.... go to.... to to New York ..... uh, to try to get some funds for
them, why they just said "Well we can't put that money into this institution
unless Bill Turner is there.' And since that time, the president, uh)who
by the way is a graduate of the University of Florida, he got his doctorate
W: degree there, has not had the abdominal fortitude to come to me and say
"Bill Turner, I'd like you to work at the college again, but he's sent some
of his lieutenants to me to try to find out if I would like to work,ya know
for that institution and I...... frankly say to them that when my pants are
down and you kick me the next time I drop my.... my pants it's for a different
reason ..... and which I won't put on that tape. But, uh........
I: You could edit that part.
W: That's.... that's the way I feel about that situation and at this moment
and I'll show you..... I have a letter here now where the president has .... has
uh written asking me to try to sell the land that they have in St. Augustine
which is 341 point some acres..... and um, I'm gonna see what I can do to
uh get that land sold for 2.2 million dollars. Not because of the....Not
because of the people that terminated, but because I recognize the fact
that there are some black kids still there and I want them to get an education
and the institution is floundering financially. I want to give it a new
life uh, from an economic standpoint and so I'm going to try to sell the land
but as far as administration and the trustee board out there, they can go
I: The people..... The actual people, they were white?
W: No, these were black folk I'm talking about.
I: They...... The black people terminated you?
W: That's right. That's exactly right. So it works both wayin some situations.
Ya know it's unfortunate but uh, these things do occur and I'm not bitter
about it. I'm not bitter about it cause I don't have time uh,to become
bitter about things. My mind isn't so minute that I let things like that
bother me because ninety per cent of the people that I've helped wif turn
W: around and kick my butt. So if.... if I was gonna let things bother me uh, hell
I couldn't do anything else anybody.
I: O.K. Let's go to number two.
W: Uh, fear of physical violence. I don't think in terms of registering. Uh, a
long time ago, I guess when I was a kid or perhaps..-... uh, previous to that,
uh, there was some fear of physical violence in this community or in this
county, but as of now, people just aren't fearful of physical violence in
terms of registering to vote.
I: So that'd be non... nonmportant?
W: Uh, of course......
I: We can go into the other aspects later.
I: There's a question about those.
W: Right. The registration form isn't that complicated because most times
they have proctors there uh who will help people to register. Uh, the
registration hours are made uh congruent with the hours in which people
in the black community are off from work and they are put in convenient
places and there is a schedule on this that's run in.... in the various
newspaper and especially the Miami Times which is our black weekly. Uh......
I: So that'd be noimportant also?
W: Right and your registration not held often enough, why the books are open
all the time and in certain intervals or certain times during the year
they have the books open in different areas in an attempt to just go into
W: the community and pull the people out. They even provide cars for them to
..... to go to register and they take them uh, to and from their homePya know
to get the registration achieved.
W: Uh, here is a great indifference of blacks to voting because...... I guess
prior to my getting involved in politics in this county, very very few blacks
voted. Uh, because of the things that I've been able to do and because of uh)
my continuing to say you've gotta vote, you've gotta vote. Uh, because the
attitude was that most blacks say/ "Well it doesn't make sense uh, for me to
vote because my one vote ainlt gonna make that much differencAe But that
one vote can make the difference.
I: That's the same thing with whites voting. One vote does make a difference.
I: And when you put it all together.....
W: It makes a hell of a lot of difference and uh, I guess it's a lot of apathy
because of uh, a series of things which is happening in the political arena.
That people just don't have the kind confidence. Interestingly enough, in
my last campaign I spent about $12,000,0. ElCve~- L-- iubad it e iided of
that.... of those dollars came from this black community in which I served
and it came from the gradat to the wealthy-teo. And that was a ..... a good
revelation to me because .... uh, I had a heart attack and I negotiated uh,
a couple of top jobs in our school system as I laid on that bed in Mercy
Hospital with a heart attack because my doctor said to me "Bill, you'd better
stop uh, because you're a sick man and you don't need to.... to try to achieve
any of those things you have in your mind,'but I contend that you can never
stop because you're so far behind in terms of uh, opportunities and economics
and the whole bit that uh you just don't\ As an elected black official,
W: you gotta continue to move in the areas in which you can create the kind#,o
leverage or get that kind# handle on the system that's necessary for black
folks to become an intf al part of the decision making process and.... and
also to become a part of.... of the community and what the community is all
about and what it's attempt~4 to do.
I: O.K. Do you uh..... I've already marked on my sheet. Do you..... see how
I marked it?
I: Is that how you feel?
W: Right. Yeah.
I: O.K. Let's move on. Section B. The following questions are asked to gather
information on the election campaigns of black elected officials of Florida.
O.K. There's only a couple you fpl, this section. Number seven: Were
you able to campaign freely? Were you ever threatened or received irrate
phone calls or things like that?
W: Oh I've gotten irrate phone calls but I don't pay those things any attention
because I think that the people that uh, that will call you and uh, ya know
say those. :... say the kinds of things that uh should never be said to you are
people who are afraid anyhow. They are fearful because if they weren't they'd
........ they'd confront me uh...... uh, on a one-to-one basis instead of doinq
it by telephone and uh, during the time that I was campaigning I was called
nigger. When I was telling a folk about my platform, what it stood for, because
I uh, ........ I ........ One of the p (cI.ks of my platform was bussing, ya know.
And uh, I didn't.... I didn't uh get upset when I was called nigger. Although,
my response to that was, I'm too intelligent to be insulted by your comment.
W: Ya know? And intelligent realize and recognize that anybody can be a
nigger, your color don't make any difference. Ya see? (chuckle)
I: That's true.
W: And so uh, I just went on. Ya know/like I had a very very strooong argument
with a..... with a white guy uh in the south end of the county. Uh in fact,
we..... we debated and I guess I should say argued cause we went at each
other for about an hour and a half on this bussing issue and there was one
black couple there and the.... the black woman, she was just squirming. Ya
know, I guess and..... She was fearful that something was going to happen
to me because uh there were only three blacks there and I didn't back down
off the guy and finally, the man said to me, the white man that I was debating
with said, "Bill Turner if you got that damn much guts I'm gonna vote for
ya and get all my friends to vote for ydl Ya see so, I don't know. What....
what needs to be said should be said by uh, any official. Ya know, not
necessarily black but more so by blacks.
I: O.K. Were you ever threatened in any other way besides phone calls?
W: Yes I was. And the first thing that comes to mind I guess is the most recent
one where I got a contract for a black collection firm, a black trash collection
firm. Uh, they were getting a lot of flack from uh,...... purchasing department
or our special services department uh, on their bid. There was some irreg....
irregularities in their bid and like it.... like it is in most bids uh from
companies and ..... in fact, the purchasing agent uh, said to the black
guys uh, "You need to withdraw you bid. h, because we can't entertain that
bid with those uh, eorneous entries there So, they came to me and at the
time I was in a meeting. So, I told the superintendent that I wanted to
have a meeting with him and Fred Cline, who's overspecial services, and that
purchasing department comes under his and uh, there are persons in his
W: department, in Fred Cline's department, who uh, totally is back out to
withdraw their bid. So anyhow, we had a meeting and Mr. Smagel, who
is also in special programs depart' special programs department uh, came
down with Mr. Cline as superintendent and indicated to me that he had another
meeting and that if I really needed him that I could come and get him out of
his meeting and he would be happy to come in there and see what he could do
to straighten the thing out. So, when I walked into the conference room uh,
Smagel was there and Cline was there and they didn't bring down .' pP r-
-ek'r 4evt., ,... Soft the first question I asked Mr. Cline was
where is the purchasing agent who indicated to these two gentleman uh, that
they should uh, that they should uh withdraw their bid. So, Mr. Smagel spoke
up and he said "Well you need them because uh, I'm hjs, .% So, I told
him I didn't ask him to be there in the first god damn place and to get his
ass up and get upstairs and get those people that I asked for. So he immediately
went upstairs and got em and when they came back they indicated to me what
had happened and so I did with them what they would normally do with any other
...... with any ..... with the bidding process with that kind of thing involved
in it. I asked them to take that to the attorney get the attorney to
straighten it out and if we had met all the legal requirements even though
there's some..... there were some erroneous entries in the bid, that then
we would move to give those black.... uh, the black trash collection company
the bid. So, we did uh, get it straightened out through the attorney's office
and then the.... when the bid was elect and approved on by the board, then....
the black guys got two of the trucks fire bombed, they got one of em uh, the
gas tank of another truck uh, they placed twenty pounds of sugar in it.
W: They also shot one of the black guys in his shoulder. They called me up
and threatened me on a three occasions and told me that if I didn't keep
my damn mouth shut and niggers were supposed to stay in niggers place and
all that kindA thing. I told em I wasn't a nigger and I didn't have a
place and I said what I thought and that I was going and purchase me a
357 magnum. Even though I was put at a disadvantage by not knowing who I'm
talking to but if they decided they were gonna do something, they had certainly
better do it in uh..... uh,in one of the fatal organs in my body because if
I ever raised my head and could see them, I would blow them away and I meant
just that. And since that time, I haven't had anybody to threaten me.
I: O.K. Let's move on to another area. Were you ever handicapped by lack of
W: Yes. The first time around I..... I went into debt. I guess most folks don't
know it but I'd saved up about $8,000, 8 and I had it cash in the bank. I
spent every dime of it and then I had about a $3,000,~6deficit. And as
soon as I was elected every person that I owed...... Not every person, but
one of the people that I owed money to uh, fast print, cause they printed
some things for me, uh, sent their bill to their attorney and indicated that
they were going to sue me for.... for the sum of money that I owed them.
So, I immediately went to one of my Spanish speaking friends, Alfredo Duran,
uh, and Alfredo took me to the Bank of Miami which is controlled by the
Spanish speaking people and he agreed and signed for me to borrow $3,0008
so that I could pay off my campaign debts and I paid that money back. Uh,
I guess I made the last payment fri..... in May and then I..... uh, got together
my second campaign a month after I..... after I had paid that debt off. And uh,
W: I....I didn't have any problems cause they changed uh..... the uh, law and
uh, the state statue indicates that if you don't have the money, you don't
i v C- r
encourage the bill and I think that's much better now because I didn't have
a deficit in my second campaign uh)because I got about $11,500,ml0out of
this black community and $500,~0 from a black friend of mine and uh, I'll
tell ya I got money from....... uh, people that worked, the women that
work in the kitchen in the school system; Que-~edoar, $2.00, $3.00, $5.00,
$10.00, ya know?
I: Ye>-k % _
W: And uh, I just...... ya know, I was very very elated aboutthat because it
showed me that theyappreciated what I was attempting to do uh, for their life styles
because I've always believed that no matter who elected officially, if he
does not do anything to improve the lifestyles of the people uh, in the
community that he's serving then he should not or she should not be in public
I: O.K. Question nine: Why did you decide to run for office.
W: Well, the reason I decided to run for office is I applied for a job in the
north central district office which was a human relations uh, assistant to
the superintendent of that district and I was interviewed for the position
and I got word that I was the number one person and because the superintendent
of that district and I uh, he didn't like me too much because I've always
been outspoken and uh, we ...... we had had a...... a conversation once where
I just told him what I thought in terms of uh a situation that he had uh,
proposed to me and I just told him what I thought should happen with it and
he didn't like that and he said "Oh, that's not gonna worldb I said "Well,
then perhaps you have something better. Uh, tell me what your plan would
b'E and I think that sort of insulted the man. He walked away from me 'cause
W: I guess he felt that blacks aren't supposed to talk to white folk like that,
ya know. And what they did was, they added another job specification that
they knew that I could not meet and that was to have some experience in the
secondary...... in secondary education and I had never taught in the secondary
education uh, school in this county and no other place. And I indicated this
to a black guy who was a director in his district office and the black guy
said to me,"Don't worry about thal I said)" Don't tell me that because
you aren't.... you aren't being truthful to meT I said "All you're trying
to do is cover up what the damn superintendent is attempting to perpetrate
o/ mE4) And I never got the job so I said "O.K., I'll run for office and
I'll stop some of these same kinds of things because they're happening to
white tocdl) They do the same thing to them and I think it's a..... it's
a criminal thing to have a person have and exercise in futility and applying
for a job and in the middle of all of this you turn around and add another
job specification-that you know that they can't meet because you're looking
at their vita and everything and theA persorlfr :~.
I: To which political organization do you belong? DemocratlorRepublican?
W: Well, I'm in the Democratic /arty, will never change, and will always....
I registered initially a democrat.
I: What were the two or three most important issues on which you campaigned?
W: Bussing was number one. Bussing was the first one and the second thing
was uh, I thought that stores and distribution in our school system here
in Dade County was very very uh, slow in getting materials and supplies
to the schools so that the teachers could utilize those things with the
daily operations of their classroom. And of course you know, other issues
came forth in my campaign by vireo of the fact that..... that I am black
W: and whites pose many many questions to me. For an example, "Would I uh,
agree that all of the black kids should be bussed out of the black community
uh, to intergrate the school system?" and I frankly told them that bussing
was a two way street and tZaf.... and I had no quaas with em bussing blacks
out of the black community to integrate schools but I also wanted them to
know that I would also be for white students being bussed into the black
community to integrate the schools that are predominately black in the
I: Was that the case..... Was that the reason/ for both of your campaigns?
W:, No, no. Uh, I just ran on my record. Ran on my record the second time.
W: The other thing that came tA very quickly and here in Dade County
now many whites come up to me and they say "Bill, because of your honesty,
because of the fact that you speak your mind and we know where you are,
we can appreciate this from an elected official because so many of them talk
out of both sides of their moutIV) And I think the black commun..... the
white community recognizes me as being a person who uh, will tell the
truth, who will tell it like it is, uh, without any reservations. And I
don't make em any promises that I know I can't deliver.
I: Do you think that those issues were the main problems facing blacks in
W: At that particular time, yes. At that particular time it was because we
did have what most folks would call a riot but I call 'em fights. Ya know,
and when I was a kid uh, I fought whites uh uh kids too. I'd go downtown
W: and uh they'd throw rocks at me and stuff. Ya know and I'd throw rocks
back at them and I've had fights with them. Right downtown. In fact, the
first time I.... The only time I've ever went to jail in my life was I had
...... I was seventeen years old and I was a newspaper cad for the Miami News
and about 3:30 in the morning I was short a bundle of papers and I went
downtown to the Miami Herald on my bicycle and uh) I saw a white man down on
the sidewalk and he was saying "Help me. Oh lord, help med So I stopped
my bicycle and I picked him up and when I picked him up he shoved a twenty-
five automatic in my ribs and said "Ya know. I'll shoot a nigger down like
a dogAy So I said "Sir, I was just trying to help ya. I thought you were sick
or ill or something and that's why I came over and I heard you moaning lying
on the sidewalkkY But he did that because he saw me coming up the street on
my bicycle at three something in the morning, recognizing that I'm black,
and I was a young guy, seventeen, and he thought that he was.... ya know gonna
do this to scare the hell out of me. It so happened that there was a little
house.... right at the ...... at the time it was right there uh..... at
Flagler Street where the old police department headquarters used to be,
where the federal building is now.
I: Mmm hmm.
W: The police department and it was right on the other side. At that time, that
place on the corner it was a Hollywood showplace where you would buy a ticket
for a quarter and we'd dance with a woman, ya know. And I guess he stumbled
out of there. And so there was a little house like they had that for the....
for the trainmen that worked for the Florida Eastcoast Railroad and..... I
started to go across the tracks with my bicycle and he went around one side
W: of that house and I went around the other and I caught him when he got around
the other side cause I saw him when he put that gun in his pocket and I tore
his coat off and then beat the hell out of him and he was hollering so
until the policeman ran out the police station and arrested me and they took
him over to the and they ran a check on him and found that he was AWOL-
from the United States Navy.
W: Ya know, I went to court and the judge dismissed the case, Judge Currie,
and at the time Judge Currie was my family's attorney and had been for years
ya know and uh, that's the first and the only time that I've ever had
any dealings with that. Ya know but......
I: How did you happen to go before a judge that was friendly?
W: Well, Judge Currie was the city judge, the city of Miami at the time.
I: Oh, it just happened that way?
W: It just happened that way?
I: O.K. Section C........ number twelve. How were you elected, at large or
W: Well, I must live in the district...... uh, in which I.... I run for but uh,
it's a countywide vote, it's a kinda coo-coo law and it needs to be changed
but that's the way it functions and operates.
I: O.K. How many people in your district or city? I really don't know how.....
W: Uh, in my district there are 121,000 registered voters.
I: And in the city?
W: In the city of um Miami? Uh, in the city of Miami there are about 35,000
I: What percentage of the population is black?
W: Uh, well, I guess uh, maybe about twenty-five per cent I would say.
I: Is that the city you mean?
W: That's the county.
I: The county.
W: You have about uh, twenty-two to twenty-five per cent blacks I would say because
ya know when you take uh, your census they always miss a lot of people, ya
I: Mmm hmm.
W: But I think it's at twenty-two but I think we.... we..... I always tell folks
that it's about twenty-five per cent and I think this is indicative of your
statistics from your school system where we have twenty-five point one per
cent blacks in the Dade County School System and about twenty-six point
nine per cent Spanish speaking. So, those to my mw\r~or,-e. is just
in our school system alone makes up about fifty-two per cent.
I: O.K. About what percentage of blacks of voting age in this city are registered
W: Oh, I can't answer that one. I... I have no idea but we are still attempting
to register people and we have about 101,000 black registered voters in
Dade County uh, which is a significant number but not enough. We're still
trying to get people registered to vote.
I: About what percentage of blacks who are registered to vote do you estimate
FB 70A -19-
I: actually voted when you were elected?
W: (chuckle) Well I'll tell ya, they come out and .... and I can't give you
a percentage uh, but they came out. I mean they really came out to vote
for me. The second time more so than the first time because I had a.... a
black opponent and a white incumbent the first time. My black opponent
went around telling people that I was uh..... the fair head boy for the
white establishment and that I wasn't gonna make the countyL-ways that was
necessary for a black elected official to make in order to improve the life-
styles of blacks in this community. But, when I was elected...... In fact,
I beat him in the primary by uh, 20,000 votes. And I beat the incumbent
in the primary by 9,000. This is my first time around. And the next time
around I think uh......
I: That's pretty peecisive.
W: Yeah. I beat uh, I beat my opponent I guess by about 20,000 votes the first
time around. My second time around I beat uh my opponent which was a white
opponent who had moved in my district to run against me. I beat him three
to one and pulled more votes in the entire county than any other county uh,
eounty that including the judges.
I: Do you think you got any votes from the whites? Obviously.
W: No question about it. I could never be elected in Dade County without the....
without the white populous vote.
I: What percentage of your total vote came from whites? Do you have any idea?
W: Well, I'll tell ya, a great deal of 'em came from the white community because
I really did my homework the first time around. In fact, I started campaigning
a year ahead of time by going into different uh, areas of this community
where the white community was and I had uh, different uh, whites to ..... to
have coffees and that kin
have coffees and that kind thing in their home and invite thirty or forty
W: people. I went in and sat down and let em just fire away at me any question
they wanted and I answered the questions and so fs, oa4 to get known. And
that I think attributes itself to my being elected the first time. I started
a year in advance and I went throughout the white community in this county
and the people knew me and they...... I .... I'd done some things in the
community and the school system that was written up in the jnami Herald so
my name was know and uh, I think that helped too.
I: Would you say seventy per cent offaiand?
W: I would..... I would think that would be a reasonable figure.
W: A percentage.
I: In the election which you won, the two elections, how many opponents did
you have? You mentioned you had three......
W: I had two the first time around which was a black uh, fellow Wellington Rowe
and I had uh, Harley who was the white incumbent and he..... I debated him
for an hour on T.V. and he called me a racist, he called me a black militant,
he called me a black panther, and all those things but.....it didn't uh,
unnerve me nor did it uh, hurt me because I just sat there and indicated that
it appears to me that Mr. Harley has some..... some qualms or some feelings
about my being black and if he has, he's got problems, not me. Cause I
don't have problems with white folk. Ya know cause I tell em what I think
and whatever the situation is uh, if they do something about it, fine. If
they don't, then at least they know what my position is.
I: And the second time you ran?
W: The second time I ran I had a guy by the name of Crancy who moved into my
district and I could've had him disqualified because..... he ...... he was
supposed to have lived.... moved into that district uh a certain.... six months
W: prior to running and he didn't. I could'e had him disqualified but I didn't
because I knew I could kill him and I beat him three to one.
I: O.K. So, you had..... He was the only opponent you had?
W: The only one the second time around.
I: He was a black?
W: No, he was a white.
I: He was a white.
W: Cfancy was white.
I: O.K. One.... so then he running. O.K. Uh, by any chance, do you know what
percentage of the total vote you received?
W: Oh god. I beat him three to one so I must've.... I'd say it was about sixty
something per cent of the vote.
I: That's the.... That's the second time, right?
I: And the first time?
W: The first time......... ohhhhh I must've gotten about fifty-eight per cent.
I: O.K. Section D. These questions are asked to determine how well black officials
ly Florida have been able to benefit those they represent. In a fewpf
these cases they might not uh hold to you since your office is education.
w: Well, I go in all areas. Like right now, I'm uh, I've been working for
the past two or three weeks with the family health center wh is federally
funded and I'm attempting to get 2.8 million dollars from the decade
of progress bonds in this county to build a permanent facility for the.....
uh, family health center which is a much need health entity in the mouth
of this area and uh, I'm to make a presentation to the county commission at
2:00 on Tuesday. Uh, yesterday I had a meeting with uh, County Manager Ray
7 Gould at 9:30 yesterday morning in which he indicated to me that he was for
W: the project and that he would do everything that he could to foster it. Uh,
and on Tuesday we'll go..... I'll go before the county commission to make
an appeal to them to let us have that 2.8 million dollars uh when the decade
of bonds are sold probably when the market changes to some extent and I
suspect that that'll probably be in February even though there's a one per
cent increase in construction cost per month because of your inflation.
I: O.K. Twenty-one. What, if anything, has prevented you from doing a better
job especially in regard to benefitting blacks in your district?
W: Well....... I'll say this; the same system that rewards you also punishes
you. In answer to that question and many times you...... you want to meet
with people and you want to..... to tell them certain things that they need
to do but you refrain from doing that uh, by viril of the fact that you
always have some lack of presses in any group you go into and uh, somehow
or other yet it always gets back to the right place where strategies are
changed, ya know? So, I'll tell you, it's a hell of a thing. Many of the
things that you attempt to do, you've gotta keep them to yourself in an
attempt to try to get them achieved because uh, the more that uh, thenore
people in the community that At ..... what you're attempting to do uh, it...
it makes you more difficult for you to achieve your goal.
I: O.K. Well, now we're gonna rate a few things. Please rate how important
you think the following items are in preventing you from doing a better
job for benefitting blacks. O.K. we're rating them very important, fairly
important, not important. This is number twenty-two. Your office has
no real authority.
W: It does. It has a lot of authority uh, and I think it's very important uh,
that I sit on that board because ....... Let me give you an example. We have
W: a minority program with the University of Florida where we spend $250,000K86
for this program and one board meeting it passed. One of our board members
saw fit to place it on the agenda for reconsideration to uh..... get that
decision turned around and the rationale was there. We're in a tight
budget year and uh, we can't afford this. Just before the program was....was
for minorities and it was to train minorities uh, so that they could become
astute uh, administrators in our school system. And they..... (end side one)
(Begin side two) I'm talkinrabout all the minorities and I guess you're aware
of the fact that uh, Dade County is a very cosmopolitan county and what happened
on that vote, I had to just..... put a wedge in there and just really come
up with some statistics and some other facts which I eu ereAred to that.....
to our board and I got a four-three vote on it, /t was just that close,
j/o maintain the program.
I: O.K. In question two; do you have any problem being outvoted by white
W: Well, I don't...... It is a problem but uh, I don't let it be a problem to
me because I recognize it and in the political arena you win a few and you
lose a few.
W: Ya know. So, hell if they voted against me every time around it wouldn't
bother me the least bit. The thing that I'm concerned about that I set forth
the kind principals and feelings uh, that I see and make them aware that
whether they vote with me or not,ya know is another kindA game that they play,
I: Would you say...... So, would you say that would be fairly important or not
W: It... it is.... It is. It is fairly important. But I ...... I'm not... I'm
W: not overwhelmed by it.
I: O.K. There's seven members of the board?
W: Right, seven members of that board.
I: O.K. Do you have a problem with not having enough revenue?
W: Uh, yes we do. In fact, ....... uh........
I; This isn't in relation to preventing you from doing a better job.
W: Well.... Well ya see all the time I'm spending my own funds doing things
to help uh, uh, blacks in this community and uh, ...... for the money that
I spend uh, ........ I guess it's because I enjoy doing what I'm doing and
I'm not really crying about it because someone has to make the sacrifice and
that's what I'm doing. I'm making a very paramount sacrifice uh,
because I... I feel that uh, what I'm doing is very very important and uh,
someone has to do it. It just so happens to be me.
I: When you first took office, did you have a problem because you were unfamiliar
with administrative duties?
W: A/ 0,..../
I: Besides the... the ..... ya know being coming into a new office. The usual
W: Ya see,what I did was I did my homework. I started campaigning a year in
5/ -r ,_d ,-,,o+ o -- ,,
advance...A.. (telephone rings and turn tape off for a moment) Because I
started campaigning a year prior to .... to even uh, putting up the fee to
qualify for the office which means..... which meant that I had read all of
the rules and regulations of the Bade County School System and at that point
I could differentiate from policy and administration which in some instances
it gets to be a fine line between policy and administration, ya see.
I: Mmm hmm.
W: And most board members get hung up on administration not really realizing
that-... as an elected official and as a board member that they're policy
makers and they..... they have nothing to do with administration and I think
that came to crystally clear inday before yesterday's editorial in the
Miami News. And I guess you read where there was a move on our board to get
rid of our superintendent,/ four of our board members. And this came out
in Ellen __ur!as column uh, on Tuesday and on Wednsday uh I think Jack
Hassell whiekr... wrote an editorial uh, which stated that uh, leave the
administration to Dr. Wigham because he's a good administrator, ya know. And
I don't get into administration and when I say to this to you, I say that
for the record but dait, I do get into administration.
I: You can't help but get involved in it.
W: I can't help but get involved with it because we have not had uh, blacks in
every office and in every department of this school system until just recently,/
Because I've spent to go like..... Uh, we didn't have ant electrician in our
school system, a black one. And I drove from here to Ft. Pierce 'to pick
up a guy and to talk with him about coming to Miami and working in our
avid hyj Of#rQ ,c2I".C<-, o yoe SbO(-'.-t-I0o,
school system uuti(phone rings and tape cuts off for a moment)
I: Do you have any problems because of the lack of cooperation from whites?
W: If I don't get it from one group I get it from the other.
I: O.K. So, you'd say that would be nonimportant?
W: That's right.
I: Lack of cooperation from blacks?
W: Ooohhhh I go to the people that I know will cooperate.
W: It's just those who will say they will and don't.
I: Lack of cooperation from state officials?
W: I get... I get..... I get good cooperation from state officials.
I: And also erd cooperation from federal officials?
W: I get that too. I get that too. All I gotta do is call and I leave a
message for lem and they call me back within five or ten minutes. Ya know?
I: Mmm hmm. State officials.....
W: They wanna run ya know and they wanna win.
I: Yeah and that's..... They can be very good all around..........
W: Yeah, they're very good all around cause see they wanna win and they
know that I will get out and tell this black community that I called
them on.... on a certain occasion and asked them to do such and such a
thing and they didn't do it and their abuse was this and I think you need
to consider this because it's election time. They know I will do that.
Ya know and then.... It's not a threat to most of em because most of lem uh,
ya know I have a...... I have very good rapport with them. I mean very good
rapport. But anytime they see me coming the first thing they ask is what's
wrong now, what did I do, and what didn't I do. Ya know cause I.... I pretty
much stay on their case.
I: Twenty-three. Has criticism or lack of support from the black community
hindered you in holding office? And that is, do some blacks not cooperate
with you because they believe you are only a token in government and have
no real authority?
W: They used to think that. They used to think that. Uh, during my first, I
guess the first couple of years in my first term in office they used to
say this and man I'll tell ya, when they start seeing changes in this damn
system and they start seeing blacks...... The first thing I did was to
get a black attorney on our staff. Ya know and we have the only black attorney
here in the.... in the damned state. Or in the southeastern ... No. Well,
W: in the state of Florida we have the only black attorney. Black school board
attorney. And they start seeing blacks popping up in Gcrtaib positions and
things and then they start watching me a little closer and I think that's
one of the reasons why I got most of my money.the second time around uh, from
the black community and uh, everyday I run into people and they.... blacks and
they ask me "When is your term up? We want to be sure so we'll know what
we can do to help yo&I Ya know...they're concerned thereoro"
I: Do you feel that white officials treat you differently from other officials?
That is, do you.... Do they consider you the spokesman for the blacks and
are you able to raise only certain issues?
W: I raise any issue that I think needs to be raised without any reservations
and it's based on a ..... on a presentation of fact and I always tell them
don't deal with me personally. Deal with the facts that I Xspouse and that 's
the way we get the job done.
I: So, do you feel they treat you differently?
W: Well........... I...... Yes. Yes they do. They dq. Uh, and I don't like.
that really because I think that any black citizen uh, should be treated as
well as I'm treated, ya know?
I: So, they treat you nicer than they would normal..... normally or?
W: I.... I think so in some instances, ya know and then you have some whites
who just treat everybody aight, ya know.
I: O.K. What services have you provided the blacks in you city that they did
not have before you took office? Please give a few examples.
W: Oohhhh. What services?
I: If this doesn't relate to your position........
W: Well, I'm on an economic kick really. Uh, and when I say I'm on a economic
kick Hal, I'm trying to get blacks into banks which I do on a daily basis
almost, I'm trying to get blacks jobs which I do on a daily basis ya know,
and those are the things I think and that's the arena uh, that uh, I need
to be working inya know.
I: O.K. You said.......
W: Public folk to put together businesses and proposals and that kindiAstuff
for businesses ya know. To improve tor.--an d to improve their life.
I: O.K. Twenty-six. Please rate how effective you think you have been in each
of the following service areas. Now like we said, a lot of these might not
be applicable to your position but we'll run through them. Uh, police protection.
Have you had any effect of that?
W: Well, I've talked with the chief of police of the city of Miami on two or three
occasions about the brutality uh, that's involved with some of their policemen
and recognizing the fact that uh, some folk can't handle authority and they
don't know what to do with it. Consequently, when a guy on the streets says
something back to a policeman, some of em'll beat the hell out of you. And
that's the kind of thing that I've address myself to.
I: Have you been effective with.......
W: Sure. Yes I have.
I: So, would you say......
W: In fact, I've asked that they move some of em from out of the black community
and it was done.
I: So, you would say you'd be very effective in that sense?
W: Mmm hmmm.
I: Streets and roads, have you had any?,.?
W: Well, not so much streets and roads but I've been uh interested more in
securing for the Miami Northwestern High School and some other black schools
in the area th, lights ..... you know where they..... where the county or
the city uh, which ever has the jurisdiction will come in and put up sodium
vapor or mercury vapor lights around the park so that uh, black youngsters
can be there in the evenings to keep them out of other things that they
could become a part of.
W: Housing, housing. Oh, well, I get complaints sometimes from people about
landlords and I go to the landlords and sit down and discuss with him or
her uh, in an attempt to get those things eliminated and out there and I
guess successfully in doing that because they've always uh, done what I've
asked em to do ya know.
W: Welfare. Well, I've gotten a lot people put on welfare and I've gotten a
lot of companies and things to contribute clothing to youngsters who uh,
find it impossible to go to school because they don't have clothes or shoes
or whatever and food on top of it ya know. I called some of my political
friends and uh, they helped me to get food like uh, Thanksgiving we give
out, oh god, I don't know how many baskets with turkeys and the entire thing
that's necessary for a good Thanksgiving dinner ya know.
I: And employment, you already mentioned were very effective about that.
W: Yeah well, I get a lot of jobs for people.
I: Parks and recreation?
W: Well, I ya know like I mentioned about the lights and things uh previously
and I do call and ask the city or the county to pick up uh, garbage or stuff
W: if it's in an areaya know.
I: Water, sewage, and garbage. Have you.....
W: Well, I call and ask em to pick up garbage in... in different areas in the
black community and I also tell those people in their damn community to stop
putting refrigerators.and old mattress and all that crap on the street
because uh, actually the garbage uh, collection people aren't supposed to
pick up the.... those kinds of thingsya know. So, even though I get the...
the city or the county to agree to pick'em up I tell the people in their
community "Damit, don't put that crap out there and you take it somewhere
else or a dump or somewhere.
I: Yeah, set up dumps. Set up....
W: Yeah, right.
I: Health and hospitals. Any effect?
W: Well, I'm working right now trying to get 2.8 million dollars worth of....
family uh, health center uh, so that they can get a permanent structure at
22nd Avenue and 54th Street and I was in a meeting and I'm being redundant
at this time because I've mentioned this previously. Uh, I'm .../ I'm
uh trying to get those funds for them so that uh, they can build a permanent
facility because with this unemployment uh rate in this county uh it's .../ it's
terrible because even though you hear people say it's eight per cent or nine
per cent but it's thirty per cent as far as blacks are concerned in this
county right now. And when you get that kind of unemployment situation
I tell ya, you are in for a lot of trouble which would uh, be related to
other agencies in the community and I'm talking about your police, your
courts, and that kind thing because when you find folk that are hungry man,
W: the folk that have it are the ones that's gonna have to give up)ya know. And
right now you find more people that are breaking in homes. I'm not just
talking about in the black community, in the white community too.
I: __. Yeah.
W: And that's what that unemployment thing has fostered uh, in this community.
V: Well, I'm in education and that's my baby and I.... I think I've been very
very effective in that. Hadn't done as much as I thought I could do but
I'm not dismayed by it because you win a few and you lose a few and you... you
maintain your __ to the extent that if you don't get it done
today or tomorrow or two years from now, it's still in your mind and you
continue to try to get it done.
I: Fire protection.
W: I .... I really..... can't say anything in terms of fire protection because
I really haven't done anything in that area.
I: O.K. Um, twenty-seven. You mentioned before that you have gotten federal
funds for your city. Could you please list a few of the federal grants, more
W: Well, I've gotten..... I've gotten a drug grant for uh, Florida Memorial
College of almost $400,000,. for a drug abuse program. Uh, and I've
gotten uh, some.federal funds through the model city uh,..,.. agency for
the college to do certain kinds of programs-.....- uh, so as to make 4I Ls
in the model city area,which is a black area, aware of the agencies and what
services those agencies provide uh, so that they can take advantage of em.
I: Twenty-eight. Have you as an elected official, been able to bring industry
or retail stores into your area?
W: Well, I really...-- I really haven't really done anything but what I have
done is I've talked with some people in different areas where there have stores
and things uh, to talk to the people and let them know that that is something
C hor"/O r. r-5s7
that is really needed in this community and don't abuse it. Uh, .... and
I've.../ I've said to people ya know like..., you have robberies and those
kinds of things and so you let the people know that these are services which
are being provided for this community that are convenient for you and if
you are going to sit around and allow folk to rob 'em and you know who
they are and you don't tell the...p the police, then those people are going
to move out of this community ya know. And like we used to have farm stores
uh in the black area and uh, we just don't have em anymore because they used
to go there and.../ and uh, rob the people on a daily basis practically and
uh, the farm stores just moved out and they used to sell milk and bread and
eggs and stuff.
I: Convenient store.
W: Yeah, very convenient thing for you and uh they always sold milk cheaper than
you could purchase it in the grocery store)ya know.
I: Have you been able to see thatblacks are hired fairly in local government?
W: That's...lI do that everyday.
I: O.K. We went through that before as we've been talking.
I: Has federal revenue sharing helped your city? Use of funds?
W: Yeah, well, I appeared before the uh, city of Miami uh, city commission
uh Thursday and I got $263,0001 for ... .- uh, mmmm --- for the community
school programs and the after school care programs where uh they keep the
youngsters of people who are working up until 8:00 at night ya know.
I: So, they were.... You would say they were a big help?
W: Right, yeah.
I: Okey doke. Have there been any black protests, sit-ins, boycotts, or riots
in the city in the last ten years? If so, what were the issues involved?
W: Well, we had.... We had a couple of riots here and during that time I
was in the middle of all of 'em, in fact. I was a part of the negotiating
team that negotiated the job for and a .../ a black assistant county manager
who is Duey Knight and uh he's been in that position since s94y-three or
sixty-four I'm not sure what year but uh, he's still there and he's doing
a hell of a job. Uh, all these things you mentioned here uh sit-ins, and
boycotts, and all that kind thing. Uh, I think that the day has come
and gone for those and I think that if the blacks intend to make any kind
of impact on government they're gonna have to move to the political scene
in order to achieve it. Ya know,and that's difficult too by vir+ of the
fact that they have err 1 ~a-wered district line so iss-not uh, put
enough blacks in any one district so that a black could be elected. Consequently,
a black has to be astute enough to begin to move on the white community and
get himself knownand what his views are uh, in an attempt to get elected maybe
a year prior to even qualifying for that office. And you'll find ~-.B most
blacks and whites too uh, don't really go that route. They begin about
a couple of months ....
I: Before they're elected?
W: Before uh, the qualifying date)ya know letting people know that they're gonna
run but you've gotta do more than that. When you're black you've gotta get
in those communities, uh, you've gotta get uh, people in there who like your
philosophy to invite you in and invite their friends in and this is..., this
is the route uh, I would think would be uh good in order to make a good successful
W: black candidate.
I: Section E. The following questions were asked to enable an assessment of
black politics in Florida in general. Question thirty-two. Briefly, what
is your opinion of Governor Reuben Askew?
W: I think Reuben is the best governor that we have had in the state of Florida.
I think he's outstanding uh, because of his philosophy, because of his principle,
and because of what he has done. I think he's done uh, the kind of things
in this state or hti fostered the kinds of things in this state that's necessary
for all communities to live cohesively.
I: What.../ chuckle9 What is you opinion of other state officials and state
representatives? Do you have any in particular?
W: Well, if I tooklem one by one I'd probably be sued cause some of em and
especially on that cabinet up there, they are the worse things I've ever
seen and uh, ..... they can be dealt with too.
I: And you don't.....
W: Some of lem I'm .....I'm ..... I'm very disgru le with.
I: Do you wanna name a couple that you're disgrumbled with?
W: Well I don't.....- I don't ...I I don't wanna be sued ya know. I don't have
a damn thing as it is and when you begin to name names uh, you put yourself
in a precarious position ya know and I don't ever do that to me.
I: Well like I said, this will be....- the transcript will be sent and you
can edit it if you like.
W: No, I don't even want to call any names .....
W: Because I could call some names and indicate to you my reason for it and you
I: O.K. let's move on then. Do you think that winning and holding office
I: .fL Florida has been worth the effort?
W: I think it has been a worthwhile effort in terms of my situation because uh,
if I had not been elected or if I was not on that school board uh, you wouldn't
see blacks in practically i9 every office in every uh division of our school
system. Because I can remember the time when you only had blacks in two
offices and that was in the northentral and then the sout+central and those
are predominately black uh, districts. But now we have em in northeast, north-
west, southwest, and the south districts and they function at the district
level in decision making prlsviionae. And since September, we've placed 135 uh,
uh, blacks in different positions and that's... that's from assistant
principals up which are decision making positions ya know.
I: Have there been any negative aspects of holding office....... besides phone
W: Well, phone calls and I spend..... I spend a lot of my money uh, running around
trying to solve peoples problems and stuff and I really can't afford that
so it makes me do without a lot of things that.... that uh, would be necessary,
I think, for:me to function as an individual ya-know.
I: O.K. now for the last section. These questions are asked to compile an over-
all group profile of black elected officials in Florida. No individual answers
will be recorded. O.K. number thirty-four. The type of office that you
W: Well, I am a school board member and I was elected uh in November of 1970
and I took office January the fifth, 1971 and I have been vice chairman
of our school board for three consecutive years. Of course, I'm a member
at this point. I've run for office on two occasions and I'm forty-four
years old. Uh, I have a masters degree in multiethnic administration and
that also answers the.... the G there.
I: Mmmm hmmm.
W: Uh, the salary that I receive now is ... what is it 7ey) plus and we
just got a five per cent raise through state statue and most people in this
community think that we voted a raise for ourselves but it was automatic
through state statue which necessitated us having us to uh, vote on it as
I: What occupation were you before you were elected?
W: Administration, educational administration.
I: And what was your father's occupation?
W: My father, he was a bell hop. My father ... Ya know, ironically enough,
my ..... my mother died from appendicitis when I was two years old and my
father was killed when I was two and a half. He was a bell hop at the McAllister
Hotel. He was coming home about 2:30 in the morning and he had a lot of
change in his pocket and during those times it was hard cause I was born in
thirty-one....... right during the depressionn there. and ya know as you step
off the sidewalks and if you're walking down the street)ya know and you have
a lot of change the money jingles so someone hit my father in the head with
a two by four and killed him instantly and uh, I really don't know my father
or mother. I've been out here by myself a long time and uh I've had to make
many many sacrifices but I guess that's a part of living ya know. (phone rings)
........ about health and I forgot to tell you this cause it's just occurred
& kosP;e W
yesterday. Uh, the director of the Ceda-r oJ LeaO o^ r- asked me yesterday
would I be amenable to serving on thetf board of directors. Uh and he
asked me to send him a vita. So, Monday I'll send him a vita and uh, I told
him that I would...i I would be amenable to it. So, I ...I I didn't remember
that. I had a lot of things on my mind and ya know.
I: Mmm that's O.K. O.K. Were you ever active in the Civil Rights Movement
W: Uh, not really. Not really.
I: O.K. Why not?
W: Well, I just.... I just never got involved with it because uh, because
I had no father or mother, my thing was always a survival thing ya know.
I had to be sure that I had enough money to function and that I was trying
to be aggressive to the extent that I was trying to work two jobs most
of my life uh, trying to get some funds so that I could go into some kind of
business or something ya know. So that I wouldn't have to work as hard all
of my life)ya know. And I had a heart attack a couple of years ago uh, from
working eighteen, twenty hours a day and uh, I'll tell ya I don't want
that again. Because right now you.... Once you have one of those things you
still feel the effects of it like I got upstairsya know and .... and I
get to the top,)an, I gotta stop ya knowand those.../ it... it really
uh, deters you because ... uh, you don't have the stamina that you used
to have. But uh, I still have to stick to it and ...- ya know forgetting
what I think needs to be done, done. But uh, it really.... you get tired
I: O.K. What.... What church do you belong?
W: Uh, I'm Epis...-- I'm an Episcopalian and I'm not an official in my church
and everytime I see Father Major he's on me. "When are you gonna get involvedYb
I said "Father, I give you dues and uh, ya know the people are always on met4
He said "td)(,Y,2-4r I'm gonna be on you too because I want you to.... to
participate in uh church md all that kinda thing But you can't be
everywhere and and all things to all people ya know. And I go
to.... ya know I go to my chuch and sometimes I)I speak
there and uh, that sort of thing but ... man I can't.../ I'm
spreaded so thin now until.... uh, it isn't even funny and
W: if you saw my vita you'll wonder what in the hell does this man
do or what time does he rest.
W: Ya know.
I: You come in so late.
W: That's right. You.... you found that out.
I: Yeah. I called you up in the morning, you were already gone and
at 7:30 you were gone.
W: I move man. I get up at 6:00 in the morning and I'm gone. I
gotta call 2:30 in the morning. I get em all times of night.
W: I don't know but I'll tell ya, it gets to ya.
I: Are there other community organizations or activities that you
are involved in?
W: Oh yes, I'm involved in a lot of those and uho,,
W: Yeah, I'm a member of that uh, ... why don't you let me give
you... Do you have my vita?
I: Hhh mhh. I don't believe so.
W: Alright. Let me ... let me send ea copy of my vita and it
will enumerate all those things cause I don't remember all of
'em. I'm a member of the Elk Planning Council, all that kinda
stuff ya know, vvO-\.
I: O.K. I'll leave you an address of the school and you can Sec.-
I: Last question. Do you know of any other black elected officials
I: in this area who have been in office since 1974?
W: Yes. Yes, you have A1 who's -. o- po-.-7o.-c
doir a hell of a job. You have Father Gibson who is t-he ity of
Miami who's doinra good job uh, and that's about the extent. No...
no it isn't the extent because the other day we just had a black
woman elected down in Homestead, the first time
in history of Homestead ya know. Uh, but they've had a black
I: O.K. One last question. What effects of running for office and
holding office had on you personally and your family?
W: Man I tell you, I guess that's maybe one.of the reasons why I'm
in a divorce proceeding right now. I stay gone all the time uh,
I didn't ...tI don't.... I didn't have time and I still don't
have the time to.../ to really do what I should be doing and and
really be with a family like I'm... I'm really supposed to ya
know. Because you see when you're a black elected official, you
are everything. Ya know, the doctor, the lawyer, the Indian chief.
You're the solver of all problems and people come to you with
their personal problems as well and you've got to sit down and
council them and at the same time you've got to.../ you've got
to uh, ...-- keep things away from people uh, that you discuss
ya know or either you lose your effectiveness. Ya know if people
can't really confide in you, I mean you might as well be out of,
the.../ out of this park,ya know cause they....- they can lay
some heavy problems on you. Ya know and you'gotta deal with em
ya know and I I attempt to that but you know it's really... uh,
made me aware of so many things and I've learned oh a tremendous
W: thing uh, since I've been involved in politics and I've learned
a hell of a lot more about people and how they function and what
makes em function. Ya know and that's.... that's important to
what I'm doing.
I: O.K. we have uh, finished this interview officially. Um, is
there anything you'd like to say put on the tape or....- in general?
I: O.K. let me....- Yeah. I think one of the most important factors
here is that I think the reason why the black elected officials
are very ineffective is because they don't have a financial base
from which to operate and once you get involved in that political
arena you must have-a financial base as a black elected official
because the threat is always there of your losing your job because
of what you say and because of what you try to do in a community
and I think it's very important that you move to try to get that
financial base because.... uh, it's something and it's something
that's of necessity because it renders you independent. Ya know
and the first thing I did when I was elected was try to get involved
in some kind of business so that I wouldn't have to depend on uh,
some employer to put up with the kinds of uh, hours that I keep
and would have to keep uh, to to maintain their employment and uh
so I got into the bar business and my business isn't even in Miami.
I: It's not?
W: No. And then that too has it's drawbacks because man I tell ya...,.
they call you brother and all that bullshit and they still steer
you blind. Because since June of this very year, I've lost
$26,000.OO out of my business and had to make a loan from a
bank the other day uh, in order to maintain it and I've been
W: firing people right and left and it.... thank God I just got
some people up there uh, that I can trust but... when they
aren't there ya know uh, people will still take and when you
begin to lose above two per cent in any business you are in
big trouble. And with the economy as it is, business isn't
as good as it should be)ya know or it hurts ya. Ya know.
I: Any other comments at all?
W: Uh, I'm not one of those guys who will volunteer anything.
W: Ya know if you ask me some questions, I'll damn sure answer em
I: Mmm hmm.
W: And be happy to but, I don't know I just..... I don't like to talk
about me. Ya know and that's bad from a political standpoint
because if you don't talk about what you've done to help people
then a lot of people aren't aware of it)ya know.
W: And this helps to broaden your political base but I never do it.
W: I never do it because I always feel that it has it's drawbacks
cause some people would .... will take it as you're bragging
about what you've done and they'll move to...f to render you
ineffective and any other thing that you attempt to do ya see)and
that's why I really never talk about what I've done but I've done
some fantastic things. (chuckle) Ya know.
I: O.K. This has been Mr. William Turner, School Board member, Miami
Florida. Thank you very much.
(End of tape and end of interview)
(End of tape and end of interview)