Subject: Leroy Gibson
Interviewer: "Button Project"
I: This study is conducted through the University of Florida to
investigate the impact of the black vote in Florida since 1965.
As part of this study, we are interviewing all black elected
officials in the state. We would like to stress that the results
of the interview will be recorded anonymously, that is, no names
of officials or names of eri44i will be mentioned in the final
report. Thus, we hope that you will feel free to respond to our
questions in an open, candid manner. In order to accurately
gather your views, we would like to tape record this interview
if that is acceptable to you. The following questions are asked
to find out how well the voting right's act of 1965 has helped
blacks to take part in Florida politics. What year did you first
register to vote. (Pause) The first one gets everybody. (Laughs)
&:. TL+ cev-c-ii\\i coes.
Z; You have to go way back in yeour mmnry A. rC rC 1oC1eV.
T oveseS maoy 6e,
G: Jut2 aboutAtwenty years ago.
I: What year were you first eligible to vote?
G: I guess about twenty years.
I: How were you registered, by local registration board, or by
G: Local egi-z.. Ke istrYA1oV .
I: Did the local registrars ever turn you down when you applied to
I: Have voter registration drives been held in the district in which
you hold office?
I: Okay; What organizations, national or local participated in +hese.
the registration drive?
G: C-XeC__C._ Democratic Board of Dade County.
I: When were these registration drives held, before or after the
Civil Rights Act, before 1960, that area, after 1964?
I: Were they successful?
I: Are there any things which prevent blacks from registering to
vote in your district?
I: Please rate how important you think each of the following items are
in preventing blacks from registering to vote. Economic dependence
on whites? Very important, fairly important, or not important?
I: Fear of physical violence from whites?
G: Not important.
I: Complicated registration forms?
I: Poor registration hours?
G: Yes, very important.
I: Is registration held often enough?
I: Indifference of blacks to voting?
G: No, no, not really.
I: The following questions are asked to gather information on the
election campaigns of We black elected officials in Florida.
Were you able to campaign freely, were you threatened in any way
in your campaign?
G: No, no.
I: Were you handicapped by a lack of campaign money?
I: Why did you decide to run for office?
G: Well, I egt a need for a change in my immediate community.
I: Were you convinced by members of community to run, or was it
something that you felt that you wanted to do?
G: W/11, I was convinced by certain members of our community.
I: To which political organization do you belong?
G: Executive Democratic o600, .
I: What were the two or three most important issues on which you
G: Police protection and recreation and better housing.
I: Do you think these issues were the main problems facing blacks
in your community?
I: These questions are asked to determine some of the conditions
which have enabled blacks to win office in Florida. How were
you elected, at large, or by district?
G: At large.
I: How many people are in your area?
G: Approximate 17,000.
I: What percentage of the population in your district or area is
G: Twenty five per cent.
I: Nig about what percentage of blacks of voting age in your area
are registered to vote?
G: Would you repeat that, please?
I: About what percentage of blacks of voting age in your area are
registered to vote?
G: I guess about fifty per cent.
I: About what percentage of blacks who are registered do you estimate
actually voted when you were elected?
G: Ninety per cent of the registered voters.
I: Do you think you got votes from whites?
I: About what percentage do you, of your vote came from whites?
G: About fifty per cent.
I: In the election in which you won office, how many opponents did
G: Seven or eight, I can't -effe.br.
I: Were any of your opponents black?
G: In my first election, there were one black, and in my second
election, no blacks.
I: What percentage of the total vote did you get?
G: I guess about eight-five, eighty per cent.
I: These questions are asked to determine how well black officials
in Florida have been able to benefit blacks they represent. In
what ways do you think you have helped blacks in your area by
G: Well, the main area I feel that mobilizing the community and
getting certain programs started.
I: What, if anything, has prevented you from doing a better job?
Especially in regard to benefitting blacks in your area.
G: W64 4, lack of i. on my part. I just don't have the
time that I would like to put in the public office, because of
I: Please rate how important you think the following items are in
preventing you from doing a better job benefitting blacks. The
office has no-real authority, is that very important, fairly
important, or not important?
G: Not important.
I: Are you outvoted by white officials?
G: On certain issues.
I: Is there enough revenue available?
I: Are you unfamiliar with administrative duties?
I: Is there a lack of cooperation from whites?
I: Is there a lack of cooperation from blacks?
I: Is there a lack of cooperation from state officials or federal
I: Which is worse, working with state officials or federal officials?
I: (Laughter) Has criticism or lack of support from the black community
hindered you in holding office? That is, do some blacks not
cooperate with you because they feel you are a token in government
and have no real authority?
G: Somewhat, yes, I would have to agree with that somewhat.
I: Are there any other reasons why you might get lack of support
from the black community?
G: No, no, well, except that some blacks feel like I work for the
city full-time, they fail to understand and realize it's just
an appointed position. A lot of blacks feel like this is an
educational phase I'm going through now, a lot of blacks feel
that I work for the city, supposed to be at city hall every day
from eight to five.
I: Do you feel that white officials treat you differently from the
other officials, or not, do they consider you the spokesman for
blacks, and are you able to only ra(te, certain issues?
I: What services have you provided blacks in your district that they
did not have before you gave office, before you took office?
G: Well, a task force been created which deals -> social services,thAch V )
Q# right now we use our revenue sharing money.
I: Please rate how effective you think you've been in each of the
following service areas. Police protection? Very effective,
somewhat effective, or not effective?
I: In streets and roads?
I: In housing?
G: It's beginning to be effective now.
G: It, it's effective.
G: Well, it's beginning now to be effective, just becoming.
I: Parks and recreation?
I: Water, sewage, and garbage?
I: Health and hospitals?
G: No, not too effective.
G: Effective, yes, especially for the young, the-,young people that
we just started what we call an after school program which is
sponsored by the city that tutors kids who one through six after
school, I think this is effective in the area that I W\S in .
I: Fire protection?
G: Well the county took over our fire department, I think it's very
I: Okay. Have you gotten federal funds for your district?
G: Yes, yes.
I: Could you please list some of the more important federal grants
you and other black leaders have obtained for your area.
G: Well, in our area, we have, we are under what we call the
Neighborhood Development Program through the federal government
so this takes more or less all aspects of, you know....
I: Have you as an elected official or as part of a local committee
been able to bring industry or retail stores into your area?
I: Have you been able to see that blacks are hired fairly in local
I: Has federal revenue sharing helped your district or not?
I: Have there been any black protests, sit-ins, boycotts,Ariots in
your city in the last ten years?
I: What were the issues involved and what were the effects?
G: Police brutality.
I: What, were some of those problems evolved after?
G: Yes, yes.
I: The following questions are asked to enable a reflection of
black politics in Florida in general. Frankly, what is your
opinion of Governor Reuben Askew?
G: I think he's a very good governor.
I: So does everyone. What is your opinion of other state officials
and state representatives?
G: I think we have good representation. I don'4- aVe Y.
I: Another question I wanteito ask, do you see a national office in
the future for Governor Askew?
I: Do you think that winning and holding office in Florida has been
worth the effort?
I: Could you explain a little bit?
G: Well, I'm beginning to see some of the things that II I e-d
do, and it's beginning to look bright.
I: These questions are asked to compile an overall group profile of
black elected officials in Florida. No individual answers will be
recorded. Type of office you have held, if this, have you held
office prior to this a.ete-- 64fC.
I: Ard what other office have you held?
G: Oh, just re-election.
I: I see. The date you were first elected?
G: -9t inefdee SCeVeif C .
I: And the date you took office?
G: It was in '71, 4 ,, March, '71.
I: The number of times that you have run for office?
I: Your age?
I: And your occupation? Before the election.
G: Police officer.
I: Your education?
G: I graduated from Florida A and M University, B.S. degree.
(Break in tape)
I: Salary received from your elected position?
G: $5000 Fp y Ao((o r& am ont-
I: Were you active in the Civil Rights Movement of 1960 to 1966?
I: The church to which you belong?
G: Mount Zion.
I: Are you an official in your church?
I: Are there any other community organizations or activities that
you are involved in?
G: The Boy Scouts of America.
I: Okay. It's over.
(Break in tape)
I: I'd like to comment briefly on this interview. Mr. Gibson wwns
his own business, he owns a security service, and maintains a
very busy schedule. He was kind and considerate, and asked me
if I would make the interview as brief as possible as he was
giving me his lunch'break in which to conduct the interview.
I felt that in order to include the entire interview, that I
had better not get sidetracked into a normal probing situation
because of his limited amount of time. He did leave the door
open for future contact if we desire to include him in any
(End of tape)