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Subject: Gus Richardson
Int: "Button Project" Gretna
0: other person
I:,,,will be confidential. We won't use your name or even list the town in using
the responses that we get. There is another project that may want to use
these interviews. It's called the Oral History Project at the University of
Florida. And what they will do is to take this tape and type up a transcript
of the conversation. And they will send it to you and you can edit it, take
out what ever parts you want to. And sign a release form. And at that time,
they will put it on a shelf.
./^& c- -2- -of hIet AICe h-, s yu .
S: Did you start on side two?
I: That should be on side one. It goes this way. No, no it goes this way. No,
this way. Look. On that side.
S: Oh, I see. OK.
0: Actually, I need 80 cents. You got 80 cents? Actually, I need 80 cents.
S: Are you second trying me?
0: 80. 80 cents, aha. I need one of those dollars in change, if you got it.
Do you have one of them in change? How about the cokes? Do you have any in
the coke machine?
S: You want change for a five,
0: I want change, well, if you got 80 cents that you could let me have until
I close up, then I'll give it back to you, to give the customers. If not, just...
S: Go in the coke box. e4-';- of -4C Loc co ke- bo'w.
0: I'll tell you what. Go ahead and give me change for this then, if you got
five ones. Then I can get change for one of these ones in the coke machine.
I: OK, so the reason that I tell you this is that we get our tapes from the
Oral History Project. And if, they will release this interview only on your
approval. They will send you this transcript and you get to read it. Take
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out what ever you want and then sign a release form.
But if you choose not to, that's your choice. The first set of
questions are trying to determine the effects of the Voting Rights
Act of 1965 and how it relates, what"% it has done to increase the
participation of Blacks in Florida politics. And they are just general
questions at first. The first is, what year did you register to vote?
S: When did I register? In sixty, ah seven, I think it was.
I: Sixty-seven. And what year were you first eligible to register?
Ah, what year were you born? 21, I guess would be the...
S: Ah, at 21. I was eligible to vote in '51. I registered to vote in'51.
I: OK. Had registration drives ever been held here in Gretna?
I: Ah, by whom?
S: By the N.A.A.C.P. the first year of the registration to vote h~er-L-
r-evra, the N.A.A.C.P. from a branch office in Washington.
I: And when was that?
S: That was in'70, or 71, I think it was.
I: Any other......
S: r1'70, 170 I think it was.
I: 1970. Were there any other drives?
S: Yes, we put on several drives in that same year, we put on several drives.
At that time, there were more registered Black voters\ h- -r o re
cause we didn't know nothing about
at that time.
: There's no M-nun a-ouncil at all?
+khre'r ff4yo(eJ -fkemrr c, mvor1
S/: Yes, i-es land council now. -t was land council at that time. But there
were no registered Black voters at that time.
J t: I see.
na fJre rcL no rde-^ ls/ v vo- e rc a 4 1. k,.a
; r &o&
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I: In Gretna, at that time.
S: So, starting in 1970, that's the first time the Blacks were even
I: That's right. In Gretna.
S: And how successful were these drives then?
I: These drives were successful all the way because in 71, that's when
they elected a Black mayor and also 2 Black councilmen from that
I: So, it dramatically increased the number of Blacks....
S: That's right, it increased.
I: Were there anything that prevented Blacks from registering to vote
here before 1970?
S: Ah, it was because, the thing is that we didn't know that we even had
to register, the Black ones, but as I said before, we didn't even know
that there was a mayor ** council that existed in Gretna until we
checked into voter registration in Quincy there. And they told us
yes after the N.A.A.C.P. came at that time.
I: Could you look at this list and, these are items that may or may not
be important as far as preventing or helping Blacks to register to vote
in this area. And if you will, could you check out, check the
appropriate column which if you think is important, very important,
very important And could you
comment on each one. The first one is economic dependence on whites.
Was that a very important factor in preventing Blacks from registering
to vote or using their right to vote?
S: I wouldn't say because we never had to register at that time, not here.
Not in Gretna. But we voted anyway in the general election. We vote in
the general election already but we didn't know we had to register in
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Gretna, to vote in Gretna.
I: You have to register with the county and the city both.
S: And the city. You had to register with the county to be able to
register. You had to be registered with the county
I: So, did the fact that Blacks worked for whites and perhaps rented homes
from whites and things, did whites ever use thft type of things to
encourage Blacks not to vote or to vote for white candidates or was
that ever a problem?
S: Not to my knowledge, not to my knowledge.
I: How about fear of physical violence? Was there any of that?
S: No, we had no violence here.
I: How about complicated registration forms. Did that keep many people
S: Yes, that kept alot of them were turned down. Alot of them are
Alot of them were eligible to vote and
I had to come in several times, pressing for them to vote. Alot of
them voted because they wanted to excuse that they didn't have
their name or something like that. So, they had card
I know this past election, I came in several times
I: Count the votes?
S: That's right. I counted the votes.
I: How about poor registration hours. Has that been a factor?
S: No, we never had (6 Wi5 t1 seven to seven.
I: And ah, is registration not held often enough. Has that been a problem?
In some areas they have a, they take your name off the voting list if
you haven't voted in a two year period. Has that been a problem?
S: That's been a problem....
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I: Has that been applied, do you feel, to the Blacks more than to the
S: I think so. It's been applied to the Blacks more because many Blacks
that have been voting since they were young
two years. More of them were taken out because at once I think there
were 72 that are Black registered voters, and about 68 were white, so--)
they increased. There are more white registered Democrat voters than
there were Black. That was only two years ago. And so, that's really
been a problem. Yes, that's been a problem in this town.
I: How about indifference of Blacks to vote. Has that been a problem?
I: General indifference, not caring?
S: Well ah, I would say some are laeek and are not getting out to the
pol0s. I would say yes. So you want to put yes on it?
I: Well, yeah, just, it's not important or if it was somewhere in between.
Just a check.
S: Just a check. [subject is filling out form] One here, poor registra-
tion hours, I would say in Quincy there, a time a few years ago, the
only oac, polo for month they opened up for about a month, I think,
and that's all. I think the book should stay open, be open at least
twice a year. Around here that's four. But I think they should
open twice a year anyway. They should stay in there, at least be
open for two months or three months/ 0 -j- CeTAr, VLJY,
I: So registration hours aren't a problem in Gretna, but in the counties
S: In the counties, it's a problem.
I: Especially since you have to register at both places.
S: That's right. Register in both places. But I think they changed
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it this last time. If you register with the county and if you stay,
are a citizen of Gretna, you can still vote. I think that has been
ak- 4-i ^
recently changed, changed in this town.
I: Ah, they could have...
S: I think it changed because if you register in the county then you are
eligible to vote here if you are living in Gretna.
I: So, there is just one registration required now?
S: That's right. One registration required. Registration often enough
I think that would be poor, I say not improved. (ammi
Fair because they have Blacks elected....
I: There's been no friction? c 4
S: There's been no trouble at all, not in No trouble at all.
Blacks are No trouble at all.
I: OK. I'd like to ask you some questions about your election campaigns.
Do you feel that you are able to campaign freely? Do you feel that
you are threatened in any way?
S: No, I don't think I'm threatened in any way.
I: Do you feel that you are handicapped by a lack of campaign funds?
S: Ah, yes. I would say yes.
I: How many times have you run?
S: This is the first time. I was appointed once from September the 25th
to December and I ran in December.
I: This last December?
S: This last December.
I: How much did you spend in that campaign?
S: I didn't spend anything in the campaign. I haven't spent anything in
I: Just walked around and talked...
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S: Walked around and talked to them, from house to house and talked to
them. And Alice walked with me from house to house talking to them.
I: Spent some shoe leather?
S: Time. Mostly time.
I: What made you decide to run for office?
S: Well, I didn't decide when they knew office. So,
they called a meeting. And so they asked me to petition my name
and would I accept it. And at that time, I told
them yes. I was councilman at that time. I told them yes that I
would accept it if a majority of the people signed the petition, so
I could run. With the petition would I run in December. I told them
I: So you were councilman before you .....
S: That's right. I was a councilman.
I: When did you run for council?
S: I ran for council in -s.nanty-t-i.
I: In '72. So, you served your term as councilman.
S: A year and nine months. I served the council a year and nine months.
I: And you said people asked you, some people came and asked you to...
S: We had a meeting of city council. Citizens met and asked me if I
would I accept
I: What made you decide to run for councilman of Gretna?
S: Well, ah, one of the reasons that I decided to run for council is that
I believe I can be a great help to the community and to the town of
Gretna. One reason is that they are mostly young but, you know, I
feel that t-Ly needed some support from middle aged people and also
some support from the church. I think they need some support from the
church and I was also a deacon at that time. I was chairman of the
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deacon board. I feel that I some part of the church to get
out and serve some of the people of the town, even if it was me.
I: Do you belong to one of the political parties? Member of a party,
a political party?
S: Political party?
I: Yeah, are you democrat or...
S: I'm democrat. I'm a democrat.
I: Did they help you at all in your campaigns, did they give you any...
I: OK. When you campaigned both for the council and for the mayor, what
were the most important issues, the central issues?
S: Most important issues. The main, the most important issue that I want
to get into is the sewer system. That's the main one, the important
issue that I believe--a---I sewer system. And I
also want to get the sewer systems because the
sewer system is the main foundation of a growing city. Without
sewer systems, a city can't grow. And there is no industrial interest
coming in here until we get the proper sewer system. I have some that
say they will come in if we get the sewer system. And that's what I'm
looking forward to.
I: Do you feel that these campaign issues are the most important issues
facing Blacks in this community?
S: 4Vo Yes, I feel that that is the most important. With the sewer system,
some industry in here. The industry you see is the main part. You
get the industry here because it will be a back up
and all of the other kinds, see they would see, the
Chamber of Commerce of Quincy, won't let you come in here at all, see,
so there is no way. Several major
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factories, they closed down. So that left no work here.
I: OK. So I'll ask you about some questions about past conditions that
enabled you to win office. What percentage of the Blacks of voting age
here, are registered to vote, do you think?
S: What percentages, I would say from 20 to 30. I say from 20 to 30.
S: Percent. The population is 65% of the population, I think it's from
25 down, 25 back down. The youngest..
I: That's very young.
S: The youngest would
I: OK. Ah, what percentage of the Blacks that registered do you think
voted when you were elected?
S: About ah, I'd say about ninty percent of the total, about 95% would be
a round figure.
I: Do you think you got any votes from whites?
S: No, I don't think.
I: In your campaigns, how many opponents did you have? First when you ran
for city council?
S: I had one, one.
I: Was he white or black?
S: He was a white.
I: And when you ran for mayor?
S: He was white.
I: One opponent.
S: One opponent.
I: For the city council, when you ran in '72?
S: He was white.
I: He was white too?
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S: That's right.
I: What percentage of the total vote did you get when you won?
S: When I won for councilman or mayor?
S: Both. I got about 75% when I ran for council. And I got about, I'd
say about 85% when I ran for council, I mean mayor.
I: The next series of questions will try to determine how well top
officials in Florida have been-able to benefit the people. What
do you think your holding office has benefited the Blacks in this
S: Well, ah, this past year, I think it has benefited them little some
times. But they really don't want, they don't want to wait
they know that.
This past year, I had good cooperation with all of them, this past
year. Everything seemed to fall in place, this past year.
I: Who is that that doesn't want to cooperate?
S: It's a white, several whites. They don't want to cooperate. They are
always trying to find fault. They don't want to wait. They always
want to block any program that you have, they want to block it. Some
of the police, ah we had a grant last week, police
department, forty-one thousand dollars. They blocked that. Sheriff
Department. They blocked that. They said we don't need a police force.
They said they could have a man stationed They said
they could give us protection, ah sixty.seconds after the crime. We
didn't need a police force. We had seven breaking and they never caught
anyone, right here.
I: So, you feel that being an official, an elected official, has helped
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S: In some ways, in some ways, yes because the things that we will improve
here, because before time, we, all that was done was for the white
community. They done nothing for the Blacks community what^scQever. Let's
see, they paved the streets, everything, since they have,... they have
four men working on our community. And at that they didn't have nothing.
They didn't have anything. What they done, I don't know what they
done. They were sitting here. So, we paved the streets. We done all
of it now. At that time, they didn't have no employees working at
town hall, in the town hall. I have three secretaries, I have a bookkeeper,
secretaries that work in the water department And also,
ah, a full time administrator. I have a full time administrator, this
I: Is that his office?
S: Yes, that's his.
I: What, if anything, has prevented you from doing a better job?
S: Ah, cooperation with the whites, I suppose. The white power structure
in the city, you know how that is.
I: Here's another one of those, I picked out of your checklist. These are, 4 tk
You are asked to rate, how important you think the following items are
in preventing you from doing a better job. And it, it lists these
things, one by one. The first one is your office has no real authority.
Do you think that has been a factor that has hindered you, lack of
S: Ah, it has hindered me in some way. But the most
and in the past year because __this past year.
And I say that's improvement and that's everything.
I: t i oee, d o,
S: I think it's improvement, I'd say that it's improving.
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I: OK. The next one, outvoted by I.. k Ie- 7 g o Has that been a
I: Yes. I guess that might not be a problem here because there are.......
S: No, no.
I: The next one, not enough revenue available?
S: I would say that there is not enough revenue available. I would say
that there is not enough.
I: So that is an important problem?
S: That's right.
I: And, how about being unfamiliar with the office, the administrative
duties. Has that been a problem?
S: No, I haven't had that problem.
I: Number 5, lack of cooperation from whites. You mentioned that earlier.
S: I'd say it's fair because
I: How about lack of cooperation from Blacks? Is that...
S: I have the whole cooperation from the Blacks
I don't have no trouble with the Blacks. I have
every cooperation with the Blacks.
I: OK. How about lack of cooperation from state officials?
S: We, ah, have good cooperation with the officials. We have cooperation
with, I would say we have no problem except with one, two of them.
That's about all.
It's no problem though.
I: And how about Federal officials?
S: Federal officials, we have every cooperation. We have good cooperationwtJf
I: So, the main problems here are, you would say, one, not enough money
and uncooperative white officials, at times.
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S: That's right. That's the main ones.
I: OK. Has criticism or lack of support from the Black community, from
the Blacks here, hindered you in any way?
S: No, not in any way.
I: Do you feel that white officials treat you differently from the way
they treat another white official? Do you think they treat you any
differently cause you are Black? Or do you think they treat you
just as a Black spokesman or do you think they treat you equal?
S: Well, they don't treat you equally, I wouldn't say. They don't treat
you equal. They pretend, when you are around, they treat you equal
but when things comes up and then they makes a, they have a different
feeling for you. When something like passing or make a decision or
something as far as the white wants it
a bond, float bonds. Then some of the whites went down
to the judge, to talk to him and ah, he held it out for about three
weeks. When we had that problem, everything, everything
say nothing. But we have it with everything. We have to be jammed up.
4 0win +o-to ---.
There's no doubt, we have to jam up, you know, even tfl-ovor '4q e' ear o,
the last number. Then we had to come back to council. Times have
changed that. We only got one number. Wouldn't pass that one number.
I: So, you think there is a difference in treatment?
S: Yeah, there is a difference in treatment.
I: What services have you provided to Blacks, here in Gretna, that they
did not have before you took office?
S: Since I've taken office, they have, ah, for instance, I was thinking
of the .one: with, the cleaning, we cleaned up Gretna. We went in and
cleaned up everybody's lots and everything. Ah, we cleaned up every-
FB 85 A CTM Page 14
body's lots up, freshly cleaned everybody's lots. So we cleaned up
Gretna completely, for no charge. After that, we paved the streets.
,W.e-6w~oe paved streets. City water, we have city water. And also,
we have men who go around and keepthe streets clean, picking up trash
and everything. We've cleaned up all around here. And those are
some of the things. And also, we didn't have a recreation, for the
Blacks, we didn't have no recreation in the summer at all. When we a n
rounded up albme~-4he Little League equipment for the Blacks
and basketball, bo -g-ae-U and softball for the girls,
they can play stuff. Give them something to do, keep them from
Since we got this started
They ase down there playing ball.
I saw him this morning on the truck. We have ball, pony league, when
one gets too old, we have a midget league, a pony league.
I: Softball league?
S: That's right.
I: Would you say that the teams are doing good?
S: They are darn good. They haven't lost a game this year.
S: They gone to a championship today.
I: That's good. What are things that have prevented you from doing a better
job? Things that have prevented you...
S: Zick of revenue. Lack of revenue. We were getting nine thousand and
some and they cut us back to six thousand, six thousand two- hundred and
some dollars this year. So, you know that's a big cut.
I: We asked you to rate how effective you have been in these areas for people
in this community, the Black people in this community. Do you feel that
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you have not been effective, somewhat effective or very effective.
As far as police protection goes, how effective do you think you have
been, your being in office has there been any difference?
t#u e tA
S: The r.hae~i been too much effective. We haven't had the cooperation
from the Sheriff's Department. Not effective not having a police
department. We planned to get a police department of our own. Our
own police department. We planned to annex more, by the 15th of
next month. Our population will go up over two thousand people
I: I see the map in there. It looks like you are going to take f chunks
along the road here.
S: That's right.
I: How about streets and roads?
S: Streets and roads. We've been very effective with streets and roads.
Very effective. And also, we have, for Black folks, all the streets
are supposed to get paved now. Sometime in ah, the last of this year
or the first of next year, all of them paved.
town. There's white town on both sides and Black town around
So they sued. And so, seven
and we are sending out applications and the man said
he would look at it. nothing
but the paving streets in _I think Florida
gets oh, a million and some dollars.
I: And you will get some of that money to pave roads?
S: Yes, to pave roads. All this what we plan to annex too, its supposed
FB 85 A CTM Page 15
I: ._Ad how abouthousing?
S: It be very effective to the, we have a resident area, we have 25
houses for rental, the money has already been appropriated and every-
thing. So we have nine days to send up the whole thing and get the
money to get the land and everything. So, we've been very effective, I
think, very effective.
I: In the area of welfare?
S: In welfare? Not effective. I would say not effective.
I: And, how about in employment?
S: Employment It's falling. out the only way to get employed is to S6re 0
I: Parks and Recreation?
S: It's been poorly, parks and recreation, it's been poorly. It's hard to
get land because around here, we use it as recreation. We are trying
to buy it and he won't sell it. We been telling him, will he lease it
to us. If he leased it to us, then we could go ahead and put in a
swimming pool and everything. But we bought forty acres, north of here
planned to make a city park, we planned on a city park
sewer treatment plant going in on the north side of that. So, we have
clear water running through there. So we are going to have our own
We have an application in for that. It
looks good so far.
I: You mentioned that you have, the city has purchased the baseball
equipment for the kids.
S: Yes, we purchased the baseball equipment for the kids. We have.
I: How about in the area of water and sewer?
S: Water, we had water but the sewer, water and sewer. We had the water
and the sewer-has everything approved by OEO. That's what we are
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waiting on, the grant, from OEO.
S: Not OEO. EPA grant. And ah, they called on. The main problem with that
is getting the construction loan. There are controls. They have one
hundred and fourteen thousand dollars to loan on the construction. I
got a meeting with a real estate banker, taking care of the money until
construction is completed. I don't think that's a problem because we
have everything out of an EPA grant. It should be in sometime between
now and next month, we should have the bids in. We have everything
approved, the specs, all of it.
I: How about in the area of health and hospitals?
S: There is no hospital in Gretna.
I: Where do you have to go to, I see a clinic is here?
S: There is a clinic here. They worked once on a Friday and that's the
only time they work. And at the hospital, the hospital,
I was down there last night, when I left church last night, Loitse
got sick at church.. So we took her down there.
I: And how far is that away?
S: That's about six miles. Six miles, south of here No one
has got to push you. If you don't have anyone there to push you,
you got to have money in the bank. If you don't have any money, if you
don't have the money, you are laid out, they will lock the door in your
face. They ain't going to do nothing for you. No money
T-C sC0e Jr. -g Awl F;P e r -Fir 6r2gC laying there with the
and the dirt in his face. f4'l/ /( 5 The L arM f/ ee/1.,? ~
I: Until he proves he can pay?
S: That's t-s-.
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I: In the area of education?
S: It's fair. I'd say education is fair.
I: How about fire protection? I see you have, a good look at the
street over here, I see, I parked outside of someone's yard that
fire trucks, ah...
S: Now that's one thing, there are firetrucks that come in here....
(tape ended side 1)
,- I0oo^I 1 Ice ,
I: I noticed that-u. am north of town here, ths4im- a small shopping
center that lei leli. i Lak all closed up, a gas station, a 76 station,
and a couple of building down there.
S: It's never opened up. They built that place and it never opened.
I don't know why. But no, it never opened.
I: Have you been able to see that the Blacks are hired fairly here in
S: I would say that they are. There's lots of improvement anyway, lots of
I: Before, you mentioned that there weren't any city employees before and
now there are some.
S: That's right. I-eaid we ha4 four sanitary workers and four in the office.
I: Are all, are all 4 the workers Black?
S: Yes, they are at the time all Black. I have two whites because at
first I had one secretary and five whites. She worked until about
two months ago. She quit. And also, there were two whites at the time.
There was another until about two weeks ago but she quit. But I plan on
hiring another white, pretty soon. I also, we had another one, an
accountant, this past week, he's white.
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I: Does Gretna get/Pederal revenue sharing? Yo-0~y
I: Has it helped?
S: Yes. It's helped.
I: What do you use that money for?
S: We use it for help, and ah, some for recreation, and for 4 many different
things we can use it for. opld 4o0 ;4-.
I: About how much do you get?
S: We gets about, um, eighteen hundred dollars every quarter.
I: About five thousand a year?
S: That's right.
I: Have there been any Black protests, sit-ins, boycotts, riots any violence
of that kind? Activities of that kind, in Gretna in the last ten years?
S: No, none.
I: This next set of questions/ are aimed at, your throat gets awful dry,
doesn't it* aimed at getting an accessment of the Black politics in
Florida in general and basically we want to know what your opinion is
of the government we have?
S: Governor Rubin Askew? I think Governor Askew is a fine man, a fair man.
I: Do you think his attitude ir- favorable, an attitude or policy to Black
causes' and concerns?
S: Yes. I'd say he has.
I: How about the other state officials?
S1 Ah, most of the state officials, they are fair. I'd say they have been
fair. p~ie most dJc k!,-a Tq-ol with local officials
I: Do you think that winning and holding office here in Gretna has been
worth the effort?
S: Yes, I think it has.
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I: Would you lhe t-e explain some more? What has it meant to you?
S: It meant a great deal to me. But only I want that all people be
treated fairly. And I think I have benefitted that because I have
been fair to whites and the blacks because whatever I will do, I
will do equally for the whites and the blacks. And I will sit down
and listen to all of them, don't make no difference like before.
You see, that they would, they would, whatever they were going to j JS
de for the whites and -fke lfcak.
All of the money was being spent for the white community, which you
rt-IIA Vre Tyo/ (-C-%A ,:CCs'I t\
can see it, you know, for a fact..
I: Is this it over here?
S: That's right. And you know it's a fact. That's where all, all the
roads were paved, the streets paved, everything was up there. And
when it came down to paving the streets in the black community,
you know what they wanted to do, they wanted to redo &t streets up
there, in place of going through paving streets here. I'd say very
effective because in the black community, if they had been in power
they'd never been paved in the black community.
I: How, what has holding office, what has it meant to you, how has it
effected your personal life, your social life? Has it caused problems
for your family?
S: I would say yes because the time I used to spend with them, I don't have
the time to spend with them because I had time before. Now I don't have
the time to spend with them. But qh, they consider it and it's getting
to be no problem now they are considering it and see it and I explain
why and usually call them. And they see it. It comes from when I have
the time for them because the time they want to go places, sometimes
I be promising them that I will take them someplace and something come
FB 85 A CTM Page 20
up all at once and so I got to delay them and then. So time gets to
be a problem, sometimes. So now, its no problem.
I: Do you have any regrets?
S: No. I don't have no regrets at all.
I: You were first elected in 1972?
S: Yes, as councilman. I was elected to council in '72.
I: When are the elections? In December?
S: In December. The first Tuesday in December.
I: And when do you get sworn in?
S: The first of January, the first day of January.
I: Ah, we are almost done here. So, you have run for office twice.
I: And do you mind if I ask you how old you are?
S: You can ask.
I: How old are you?
S: I'm forty-five years old.
I: And qh, what is your occupation.
S: My occupation ismoag a cement finisher, I finish cement. That's my
occupation, finishing cement.
I: And qh, did you complete high school?
S: Ah, I was promoted to the twelfth and I didn't complete high school, $
OrO ewtota f-o -kHe-frL -
I: And how much do you receive as mayor?
S: As mayor, three hundred and thirteen dollars A month.
I: And what is the ?
S: One hundred and twenty-five.
I: Were you active in the Civil Rights Movement between 1960 and 1966?
S: In 1966, yes.
FB 85 A CTM
I: Were you a member of the N.A.A.C.P.?
S: I was a member of the Southern Conference of Leadership, the Southern
Conference. I was a member of that. I was an advisor, president of
this district because this Gretna is the only place to have a charter
for that. We have a charter, the only place in this county to have a
charter for the Southern Conference. They don't have no charter.
I: You are an official in the church?
S: Yes, I am a deacon.
I: Which church is that?
S: St. Paul Country Baptist Church.
I: And, are there any other community organizations or activities that you
are involved in, you are a member~ fo
S: Yeah, I'm a member of the sons. I'm a member of the sons. Green
Shade Mason Lodge Number 53.
I: Any other organizations?
S: No, 3'in on boorc over in the schools.
I: Ah, and what was your father's occupation?
S: My father was a farmer.
I: Do you know any other, outside of Gretna, las ..icd~d officials in this
area other than any Blacks elected in nearby towns?
S: Yes, Quincy elected two black city commissioners this past May.
I: In Quincy?
S: Quincy. The first two that had ever been elected. The first black
officials ever elected in Quincy, I think.
I: Any others you know?
S: In this county?
FB 85 A CTM Page 22
S: That's about all in this county.
I: Was there a councilman in here named Wayne Bliff?
I: Was he a councilman?
S: Yes, he was a councilman. He was active here around saveay.
I: Was he the one that'was a bus driver?
S: Yes, he is one of the bus drivers.
I: Oh, I see. And is he hard to get a hold of? We'd like to get to talk
to him if we could.
S: He is probably hard to get hold of. I haven't seen him for quite awhile
now. He's probably hard to get a hold of.
I: This last question isn't on here. I just, I'm curious. What has been
the reaction of the whites in this town? Before 1970, there weren't any
black officials and now all elected officials, are black. How have
the whites reacted to that?
S: They reacted very strongly to that at the first of the year. The first
of the year, they reacted very strongly. But, the police, they came and
they talked to me and I told them, they say that they don't feel it's
right. I said it's not the way you feel or the way I feel about it but
the way the citizens feel about it." Now I say that I have no control
what so ever over who they elect. And I say now I think, they made the
suggestion that I go in and talk to them.' I saynope, I won't go in and
talk to them because I think, you be taking a right, that's a personal
right to vote for who ever you feel.'" That's what I believe in. The main
thing that they want) -4 ^rc- t-ke ~ 'J o4e, A I'm getting
more cooperation as I go along, you know. They want to see really what
they feel, if they feel that they can't stop it, they will join in. I
think they'll join in. It's a matter of time, their joining in because
the thing that really happened here but you know the story. It's
FB 85 A CTM
something you got to prove. And I feel that it will be time to prove
to them that it is fair and that their government can be fair to every
one. And that's my, I try to be fair to everybody regardless of race,
color, or creed or what. Treat every man fair. cause so many black
officials might say that what happened years ago, you never did nothing
to you what so ever, so I'm not going to be taking it out on you
what so ever. Long as you treat me fair, I will treat you the same way.
I don't have that in my heart at all, to black or white. Treat them
all fair. Be straight with all of them. Fair with all of them. I think
in another year, all of them will come together and we will be able to,
I have proved that this year and I think that they will find that. I
don't think there will be no trouble. I say we should bring them all
together in the next year, two years. Some of them you ain't never going
to bring together. But if you can get the majority together, we'll
I: I appreciate your talking to me. That's all the questions I have.
S: I hope I have been some help to you. I don't know, I hope I have.
I: You certainly have. I appreciate your cooperation and your openness.