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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
W:This is February 24, 1995. I am interviewing Dr. G.W. Mingo of
the Upper Bound Program at the University of Florida. The
interviewer is Marna Weston. Dr. Mingo, thank you very much
for doing this interview with me today.
M:You are welcome, Marna.
W:Let us start out with some basic background information. G.W.
Mingo--what does the G.W. stand for?
M:My name is Gwenuel Wilfred Mingo. Most people call me G.W.
because they cannot pronounce my first name, Gwenuel. My
first name is a concoction of names. My aunt was named
Gwendolyn, and one of the grandfathers' was named Granville.
They tried to put the two together to come up with Gwenuel.
Wilfred was my grandfather's middle name. Actually, it was
Wilfreud, but I changed it and made it Wilfred so people
could understand it. So I am called G.W. or just Mingo.
W:What brought you to the University of Florida?
M:In 1971, I was just passing through here on my way to Key West,
Florida. Key West is my hometown, and I had been offered a
position there as assistant principal at one of the high
schools, at the only high school they have as a matter of
fact. I stopped in Tallahassee, which is my wife's
hometown. One of my friends said, "Man, you should go by
Gainesville. They have all kinds of jobs there." I had
never been to Gainesville in my life. So I stopped by
Gainesville. As a matter of fact, I came right up to the
Administration Building, which is Tigert Hall. I got out,
and went up there to see whoever I was going to see.
The first person I saw was in Student Services with Jack Kinzer.
I do not know Jack's official title with Student Affairs,
but we started talking and he found out that I was a former
military person. I found out he was a former military
person. As a matter fact, [he was] a retired general. Our
experiences had been similar in the military, even through
college. He was majoring in agriculture. I was an
agriculture major. We ended up in the field artillery in
the army. He was field artillery. He had gone to some of
the same places in Europe and in the Far East. So we had a
nice, little chat. He referred me to the director of
housing at the time, whose name was Jim Hennessey. I found
out Jim was a retired full colonel, so he had similar
experiences as a field artillery officer. They had need for
African Americans at that time. This was in 1971 right
after the black students had walked out. They were looking
for people to fill positions.
W:Now did you know anything about that black student walkout?
M:I did not know anything about that. Somebody told me it was
all over the news, but I was not paying any attention to it.
So I just came in. They were trying to interview with me
for a couple of days. I told them I had to move on to Key
West because I had this appointment down there. They asked
me to hang on for a while. They told me that they would put
me up in the dormitory. They had some apartments in
Jennings Hall. They put me up for two days. In the
meantime, my wife went out looking for positions. They told
her to check the school board. She went down and checked
the school board, and low and behold, she comes up with a
job. She come and said, "Hey, they offered me a job."
W:What is your wife's name?
M:My wife's name is Cynthia Killings Mingo. Her maiden name was
Killings. She was from Tallahassee.
W:How long have you been married?
M:We have been married thirty-one years. It will be thirty-two
W:Do you have children?
M:We have two kids. One daughter is twenty-one years old. She
will be graduating from Florida A&M with a degree in
W:What is her name?
M:Her name is Anne Marie. I have a son who is in eleventh grade
at Eastside High School.
M:Gerald. So she gets this job, or has this job offer. It
really was a definite thing because they had completed all
the paperwork. So I am trying to figure out what is going
on around here. After some checking, I think they were
checking out my background to find out who I really was,
they offered me a position here with housing as a counselor
to students. They called it a resident life coordinator at
that time. I was over in Hume Hall as a counselor. The
offer was $6,000. I told them I could not work for $6,000.
I had been making twice that much coming out of the
military. They put it up to $6,500. With the apartment
they were giving me, which had no costs, expenses for the
telephone, utilities, maid service, and all the incidental
things, such as toilet tissue (you did not have to buy that
stuff--we just had to buy food), added to the $6,000, it was
pretty decent. Plus with the fringes, such as being able to
take classes, [it was very good]. That was something I did
not think of initially. I had just obtained my masters
degree while I was in the military, and now I just needed a
job. I was not thinking about the advantages. Since I have
been at the University of Florida, I have been able to pick
up my doctorate. I got that in counselor education. After
being here for a while, and spending almost three years in
W:We are talking about 1974?
M:Yes, 1974. The position with the Upward Bound Program came
open. Hennessey again said, "Mingo, are you interested in
this position?" I did not even know anything about the
position. He said, "Well I think that would be a nice
position. Why do you not apply for it?" So I figure out
what this guy was trying to do. He was trying to get me out
of this position. If I had stayed in housing, I do not
think I would have gone too far anyway because there was no
upward mobility there. He suggested that I apply for the
job as an Upward Bound director. So I did. I got the job.
I have been with this program from April 1974 to the
W:Now what exactly is Upward Bound?
M:Upward Bound is a college preparatory program for high school
kids from the low income areas. [[Interruption in tape]]
that they have. In the areas of math, science,
[[interruption in tape]] they are prepared than the average
student that is coming from the low income families.
W:Your target area is low income students here in Alachua County?
M:We have Alachua, Levy, and Bradford Counties at the present
time. Initially, when I took over in 1974, it was only
Alachua County with 80 students. We had one or two students
come out of Marion County at that time, but it was mainly
directed toward Alachua County students.
W:When you say Marion County, I am assuming you mean the close
communities like McIntosh.
M:Yes. As a matter of fact, North Marion was a contact school
that we got most of our students from.
W:So in your number of years, twenty years, with the Upward
Program, what is it that has kept you involved in that
M:I really like the Upward Bound Program in that I can see where
I am making a difference in the lives of a lot of students.
We have had students come here with little or no interest,
or motivation in going anywhere. These students have turned
out to be engineers, lawyers, doctors, or dentists. It is a
really good feeling to know that this is happening and I had
something to do with it. I played a little part in there.
I am not going to take all the credit. I know we did
something to help move those kids on.
W:How many students do you think that you have served in your
twenty-odd years with the program?
M:Initially we had about sixty-four students per year. We are up
to eighty per year now. If we do a little quick math, for
the past twenty years, it may be a couple thousand.
W:What happened in the first year of the Upward Bound Program?
What kind of experiences did you have from 1974 to 1975?
M:I did not have any major problems with coming right into the
Upward Bound Program. I had the ability to pick up stuff
quickly, especially anything that is dealing with
supervising, motivating, or managing people or things. This
was part of my military experience. I came here with
experiences that were much greater than anything I have ever
had at the University of Florida. To this present day, the
experiences I had have not even come close to what I had in
the military. It is a shame that the University of Florida
has not even tapped in to some of this potential and ability
that I had to perform. They are playing a game which is a
game of just not utilizing their resources. As a result,
they are missing out on a lot of opportunities that they can
tap out of me and probably some other people that are around
here. It was not a difficult task of getting a real quick
grasp on Upward Bound and moving it. Most people when they
came to Upward Bound within that year or two that really did
not know that I was a part of that thought, "This guy has
been around for a long time." That is just the way I was
able to pick up on it, and just move with it. As a matter
of fact, the first month that I was in office, we had what
we call a sight visit. They came in to sight. Prior to me
getting the position, the sight visit was going on.
W:Now when you say they, who was doing the sight visit?
M:The Department of Education. So they were checking out this
place. I found out later that we were about to lose this
program because of some things that were not going on. I
came in during the middle of this thing. The guy that was
doing the sight visit looked at me and said, "I know this
guy is just getting on board, but he knows a lot about what
is happening." That is just how fast I was able to pick up
on what was going on. I read the regulations and I knew
basically what was going on. From my ability to command
units, have operations, and all this kind of stuff, this was
a piece of cake for me.
W:So the military experience helped?
M:The military experience was a big help. I was able to come in
in a short period of time and get the thing running. I
cleared up a whole lot of mess that was taking place in
here. I just cut out the crap and got down to the business
of running a good, solid program. I think in the years that
I have been here, this program can stand up against any in
the nation. I do not have any doubt or any ifs, ands, or
buts about our ability to perform and prepare these kids for
success in life.
W:Now when you say that the University of Florida has
underutilized the potential model not only of yourself, but
also of others, can you point out some specific examples
where you feel that the administration [overlooked things]?
First, who are you speaking of when you say the
administration? Are there particular individuals?
M:I can give you specific names of individuals. I have had a
continuous run-in with several people around this place.
They are no longer in the chain of command right now. They
have subsequently gone on. We are talking about people like
Charles Sidman, from my own college. This guy never
utilized me to the full potential because he was always a
put down. There is something about some people around here.
They either do not like the individual, or they do not like
W:What was his position?
M:He was the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. A
person like this undoubtedly does not like me as a person,
or he does not like the program. There is no way that
anybody with any kind of sense would not value this program.
Here was a program that could give the University of
Florida a lot of publicity in serving minority students.
[It is] a federally funded program that is functioning very
well. They did not even recognize the program. They did
not even say, "Hey, let us put this in our bulletin. Let us
say something about it every now and then. Also, let us pat
this guy on the back who is in charge of it to recognize him
for it." I asked for money also because I wanted to be
compensated for what I was doing. I think I was doing an
excellent job. They were receiving all of this grant money,
almost a quarter of a million dollars that I am bringing in
here, and they do not even appreciate that. They were using
the indirect cost money to their benefit. None of that was
coming back to the project. They did in fact, after
convincing for a long time, assume part of the
responsibility for paying my salary.
W:When you say they, who do you mean?
M:The college. This is something they should have done. They
should have assumed 100 percent of the salary of the
director and made that director feel a part of the college,
as opposed to alienating the director, which was me.
W:What kind of actions took place that made you feel alienated?
M:Specifically when I requested salary increases for what I was
doing. That is when the part really came out. I did a
study comparing what I do with directors at similar colleges
here in the state of Florida as well as outside the state.
I picked selected colleges in North Carolina, the state of
Michigan, south Florida, Miami, Florida A&M, Florida State,
and all these places. It was comparing what I do to what
W:Upward Bound Programs just like this one?
M:Yes. Here I find I have more responsibilities. I have the
Ph.D that most of them did not have. I have experiences on
the job. I was making less money than they were making. So
I am just showing them this with a comparative chart and
studies I have done to try to get some satisfaction. I get
none. The thing that I get from them is now that you have
reached a pinnacle in your career, you need to move on, look
for greener pastures, look for different venues, and contact
your people around the state to see if they can assist you
in getting another job. They are telling me to get my butt
out of here.
W:You mentioned you have some letters.
M:I do have some letters to that effect. It is a letter coming
from Charles Sidman. That is why I had that problem with
him, and not only Sidman operated that way. There are some
other people operating that way too. I mentioned a couple
of those. This is one of the things Sidman said, "You must
be willing to change venue to accept new challenges."
W:Pardon me, this is a letter?
M:From Charles Sidman dated June 22, 1984.
W:And this is on the stationary of the College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences, Office of the Dean.
M:Yes. Telling me, "You must be willing to change venue and
accept new challenges. You must move into somewhat
different kinds of positions. These observations are made
for your ultimate benefit in terms of your sense of reward
that will come from the life that you live. Give serious
thought in the next month to make contacts outside of this
University." You know, this is something that I really
objected to. I would have rathered him try to help me move
up in the University rather than out of the University.
This is clearly an attempt to just discredit, throw out,
alienate, or whatever he was trying to do here.
W:It appears that some of those phrases are highlighted as well.
M:Yes, they are highlighted.
W:The ones about leaving the University, for example.
M:So here I am. I know I have been a positive influence to the
University of Florida. They have not found anything that
has been a liability here. I have been an asset. I have
brought in money. I have run a top-notch, first rate
program. I have made a name for myself nationally in terms
of our project and our parental involvement. It would seem
like they would want to keep someone around like me. Here
they are pushing me out. I know if they attempted to push
me out, they probably pushed a whole lot of others out of
here, and they have left. I was not planning to go
anywhere. My basic thing is that you are just going to have
to fire me for doing a good job. I will not be moving
because someone decides that he thinks I should move on, or
look for a new venue somewhere else. I had a face to face
conference with him. I did not even respond to the letter.
I had a direct meeting with him. I asked him about the
letter. I was sincerely concerned about the fact that I am
being pushed out of here. He said, "Well you need to find
greener pastures." I said to him, "Where are the greenest
pastures in the state of Florida? I think it is at the
University of Florida. If there are any green pastures in
the state of Florida's educational system, it is right here
at the University of Florida. I would rather you help me
move up in here? Do you have a job for me in the college to
move up, rather than booting me out?" He had nothing to say
W:So your impetus was to stay at the University of Florida?
M:Exactly. Why would I leave here because someone else wants me
to move out. See, this man has had a history of not really
supporting African Americans at this university or in this
college. It is documented. You can look at the number of
African Americans that have come in under his
administration. You look at the number who were here and
how many he brought in. It is very low. Then you are going
to start to push out other people. This is why we have not
had good minority programs because there is no continuity of
effort. You find somebody who comes in and does the job,
then you push them out. You bring somebody brand new. You
are starting over from ground zero again. You have no
continuity of effort. I was not about to move. I am not
the kind of person that you can push around, scare, or
intimidate. You cannot intimidate me. I said, "If you want
to fire me, just fire me. You are going to fire me because
I have done a good job. You are not going to fire me
because I have messed up." They have also tried to do that
type of thing, to try to find something so they can trump up
some charges on you. If I did not know better, if I did not
have the stamina or the kind of insight that I had, they
would have run me away from here a long time ago.
It goes back to my military experience too. I am a Vietnam
veteran. Really, they are going to have to do a whole lot
more than what they are doing to shake me. Nobody is
shooting any bullets at me. Nobody mortaring me. Nobody is
really causing me to really run for my life here. This is a
lot of talk and a lot of other kind of pressures. They are
going to have to do more than that. Mingo is not going to
run and hide because somebody is talking about something.
They have not utilized me. Right now I am in a box. I am
in a box. I would call this economic segregation. They
have me in an economic mine right now. They are not paying
me what I am worth. They are not going to allow me to move
out of this position into other positions. So I am really
stuck right here now. I am not satisfied. I am going to
play the game for a while. I think I have a few more years
to play the game, and then I will move on to something else.
But the idea of forcing me out, I am just not going to hear
that at all.
W:What is it that makes you stay?
M:What I am doing for these kids here. That is what I making me
stay. It is not so much what I am doing for the University
of Florida or what they are paying me to do. I see that I
have helped a whole lot of kids. Within a two year period,
there are some things that I could personally benefit from.
I could benefit from it right now if I just leave. I can
retire right now with almost twenty-eight years of service
with the state. That is only because I have done something
to boost up the time, like purchase my military time to up
my time for retirement. You have to be looking at those
kinds of things when you are around a place like this. What
are they going to do for you? They are not going to do
anything for you, so you have to do something for yourself.
In the meantime, I am staying around just to increase my
salary. If I can increase it a little more, so that I can
retire in the next two years, at least I will get out of
here with a decent retirement benefit. But it is mainly the
That is mainly what I am here for. I really love Upward Bound.
I love what is happening. To bring these low income kids
[is great]. Most of them have no skills. Some of these
guys are out there making more money than I am making. That
is good too. They are really contributing to society. It
really makes me feel good to know that I have been a part of
W:What is the most positive experience that you have had or your
best memory from working with the Upward Bound Program here
at the University of Florida?
M:All of my memories are very good when working with Upward
Bound. The bad part comes when I have to work with the
administration. When I have to work with the part of the
administration that tells me [[please finish thought]]. I
wrote them a letter telling them that these programs might
be cut by the federal government, especially when Reagan was
in. Reagan was going to cut all of these programs out. I
sent a letter saying, "There is a possibility that these
programs will be cut. What are your contingencies? What
are your plans if they are cut?"
W:You have kept meticulous notes over the years. Do you have a
copy of that letter?
M:Yes, I have copies. I have a chronology of letters that I have
tried to make people very aware of what was going on.
W:This is a very impressive chronology. What year does this
start in--these notes?
M:We start back here in 1980.
W:Is that the first letter, December 17, 1980?
M:No. May 21, 1980.
W:And this is a letter from you.
M:From me to Dr. Sidman. [It says], "I would like to inform you
that the special services grant has not been funded for the
year 1980-1981. Even though I am highly optimistic, there
is a possibility that they may not be funded." I needed to
meet with them to discuss any contingency plans that they
might have in the event we do not get funded. So Sidman
does not even respond back to my letter.
W:This letter was cc'd to President Marston [Robert Q. Marston,
president, University of Florida, 1974-1984].
M:To Vice President Bryan [Robert Armistead Bryan, interim
president, 1989-1990], and Dean Shaw [Harry Shaw, associate
dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences].
W:Dean Shaw, Vice President Bryan, and Dean Shaw. Could you
describe them? Who is President Marston?
M:I do not know what number president he was. Back in the 1980s,
he was the man in charge here. Under him, he had Vice
President Bryan. Harry Shaw was the dean of the College of
Liberal Arts and Sciences. [He] was my immediate
supervisor. That is why I carbon copied him. I got a
response back from Robert A. Bryan.
W:February 11, 1983.
M:Yes. I have a copy of Mingo's memorandum. He goes on to say,
"The special services summer program has to end some time.
It cannot go on forever. There was a philosophical and
moral justification for the programs initiation and its
continuance through the 1970s, but it cannot continue
forever to be justified on the original philosophical and
moral grounds. Time moves on. Society changes. Social
illness can and are being cured. What was needed in the
1960s may be irrelevant in the 1980s." Therefore, he is
arguing against the University assuming any fiscal
responsibilities for the program if not funded by the
federal government. He goes on to say, "Let me know if you
think my logic is faulty or my vision is limited." I did
not even respond to this. He definitely had faulty logic
and his vision was definitely limited.
W:How did you feel on February 11, 1983 when you have the vice
president of the University of Florida tell you that Upward
Bound is irrelevant?
M:Mainly what he was talking about was the Student Support
Services Program. This is the part that deal with the
W:This is not Upward Bound. It was separate?
M:It was separate.
W:Could you explain the difference between Student Support
Services and Upward Bound?
M:The student support part was dealing with the college students
here on campus. We were helping them make that transition
from high school to the University of Florida so that they
could be successful and just move on through the system.
The University of Florida had a mix up about what Upward
Bound was and what student support services was. The
student support services was dealing with the students who
were actually enrolled at the University of Florida. Here
we had the possibility of us losing that program, helping
these kids to make that adjustment here. This letter was
saying we cannot do this. During the 1960s and 1970s it was
okay, but in the 1980s we need to drop this thing. They
were confused. The limited vision and logic was really
messed up. They had no idea what they were talking about.
That letter told me that the University of Florida, coming
from the top shed, says they are not going to support any
kind of black anything here. That is what they were telling
me. If they are not going to support those students, they
are definitely not going to support me. So I just felt that
what I needed to do was make some arrangements in the event
that they do not support it, and I would do something else.
I was prepared to actually leave here and do whatever I had
to do to support my family. We were fortunate in that we
did get the grant. I always kept that in the back of my
mind--the University of Florida is not serious about black
issues or black people. I think that is why they have a
problem right now with blacks at the University of Florida.
How can you get them involved until you really start being
sincere, and you start training the faculty and other black
support people here who are supposed to be helping these
kids. You make them feel good and treat them right, and
then they can help you with the students. The environment
is not right for black faculty and staff. Maybe it is right
for some black faculty and staff. I think some black
faculty and staff probably are satisfied. They are
comfortable in their situations. If they would really just
take a good look at some of the stuff that they are doing,
they would see that some of us are really getting screwed
around here while they are sitting back comfortable. That
is part of the strategy too. You take care of a few of
them. You make them feel good, and they are going to be the
gatekeepers for the rest of you. They are going to be the
spokesman for all the black folk here. You know these kinds
W:Is Upward Bound primarily a program that deals with African
M:It is right now only because those are the only students who
are really applying for them. It is for all students.
Student Support Services is for all students. There is
nothing in there that says this is an African American
thing. Those are the students who have taken advantage of
it. We have a diverse staff. They do not come and see all
black folk. They find Hispanics in there teaching. They
find African Americans. They find your caucasian groups.
We try to keep a balance of staff in there, so that when
they come in they just do not see one group. For some
reason, most of the African American students have taken
advantage of it. [[end of side a]].
W:...a long conference table approximately ten feet long. Just
the two of us in the room which has a large window
overlooking the College of Fine Arts. This is basically a
library repository of old University of Florida newspapers
and articles. We have a somewhat adequately stocked library
with the works of Shakespeare, Plato, and books on
philosophy, chemistry, and psychology. Thank you again Dr.
Mingo for participating in the interview. I would like to
talk to you a little bit about what happened in terms of
your experiences at the University of Florida after 1974 and
1975. What were the highlights that occurred on campus?
How did you interact with the environment? We had the
bicentennial in 1976. In 1980, we had a change from the
Democratic administration of Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan.
M:I do not really get too hyped up about any of the Democrats or
Republicans that come into office because there are certain
basic things that they will have to do for the country.
There are going to be some moves or attempts to make some
radical, bold movements such as Reagan tried to do. There
are also going to be people out there to fight them. One of
the things that I was involved in was a fight for Ronald
Reagan--to fight him to keep these programs in existence.
We did an excellent job. When Reagan first came into
office, the Trio Program were definitely on his cut list.
W:Now what are the Trio Programs?
M:The Trio Programs are Upward Bound, Student Support Services,
and the talent search. They have some other ones that have
been added. Trio is a misnomer right now. The Ron McNare
Program. The Educational Opportunity Incentive. There are
about five of them now instead of three.
W:And Upward Bound is one of them?
M:Upward Bound is one of those programs. He was out to cut them
all. We had to do a job of convincing the community grass
roots that there was definitely a need for it. We had
letter writing campaigns, a telephone blitz, and visits to
Congress--the whole works. It was part of the effort to
fight Ronald Reagan.
W:Were you organized in local churches?
M:We did the whole community. We had this whole community
organized with a letter writing campaign. When I am talking
about the whole community, I am not talking about totally,
but there are some grass root people and people that are
really closely connected with the Upward Bound Program.
[It] was mainly the parents of the students and all those
other people associated with them.
W:Any particular personalities that you would like to note?
M:There are none from the University of Florida persay that
really stood out. They are mainly local parents and
students. That is where the grass roots are. We went down
to that level. These people really appealed to them. The
number of phone calls going into Congress, and the number of
letters [[please finish thought]]. It was a constant
battle. Initially we had a twelve day way with Reagan.
This thing was coordinated on a nationwide basis, not only
the project here at the University of Florida. It was all
of the projects throughout the state of Florida, Georgia,
and all over the nation. We were bombarding and fighting
this guy to convince him and show him that this program has
really made a difference. There are former students who had
gone through this program and are now prominent people.
They are paying taxes now. They were able to get up and
speak before their congressional people telling them the
benefits of this program.
W:So you actually went to Congress?
M:Yes. As a matter of fact, I had the opportunity to actually
testify before the appropriations committee in Washington.
Senator Chiles [Lawton Chiles, governor, Florida, 1991-
present] was a chairperson for the appropriation committee.
I spoke in behalf of all Trio Programs nationwide about the
need to continue funding of these programs.
W:Was this is 1980 or 1981?
M:I have forgotten. I will probably come back to that.
W:Early in the Reagan era?
M:Yes, early in the Reagan era. It was more than likely around
1983 or 1984. I did get to talk with Chiles on two
occasions. That really helped to turn the tide because
coming from Florida and actually knowing Senator Chiles was
a plus. Senator Chiles at that time had one of my
classmates as his aide. We headed into his office. As you
know most of the congressional people depend on their aides
to provide them with information to make decisions on
whether they are going to vote yea or nay on things. I knew
Bob Harris from Florida A&M. We ran track together. I was
able to help all these programs nationwide by convincing
Chiles of a need to support these programs, which he did.
W:What is Mr. Harris doing now?
M:I think he is working for Senator Glenn out of Ohio now.
W:So back in the 1980s, I was real active in the lobbying effort,
which I am somewhat today too. I still go to Washington. I
talk to the congressional delegation here. I know Cliff
Stearns real well. I know Karen Thurman. I know Corrinne
Brown very well. As a matter of fact Corrinne Brown used to
work in the Student Support Services Program. She was a
counselor here at the University of Florida. When I came
in, she was one of my counselors. Knowing these people in
Washington is a big help. I know Alcee Hastings [D-FL] real
well. I know Carrie Meek real well. Those are some of the
people. Others I know real well too. Dante Fascell [D-19th
District] is from my district in Key West. I can go into
their offices and I can say something. I am not saying I
can influence them to the point that they are going to vote
for everything I requests or give me what I am asking for
all the time. It is a good feeling to know that you can go
in an office and they say, "Hey Mingo, how are you doing?"
W:Now in your lobbying capacity, you are affiliated with two
M:I am really not a lobbyist. The University has their own
lobbyist. I am just a citizen. That is my right to go
there and ask my congressional delegation for certain
W:So an ex officio lobbyist or a de facto lobbyist.
W:You are involved in two organizations--FAEOP and SAEOP. What
do those stand for?
M:FAEOP is the Florida Association of Educational Opportunity
Personnel. I am just stepping down from the office of
president. I was president for the last four years for this
organization. I was really the leader for all the state of
Florida programs, Upward Bound, Student Support Services,
talent search, and Educational Opportunity Incentives.
Whenever we had a meeting in Washington or anywhere in the
southeast region, I would be the representative. Now we
have SAEOP, which is the Southeastern Association of
Educational Opportunity Personnel for the eight state
regions. It includes Kentucky, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and
Tennessee. I think I listed all of them. I was on the
board for SAEOP. As the president of Florida, I would
attend meetings twice a year with these other eight
presidents of the state. We would strategize and make plans
for our regional meetings for anyway that we could support
the national organization, which is the National Council of
Educational Opportunity Associations. The National Council
of Educational Opportunity Associations is sort of like our
watchdog in Washington. They will let us know what is
happening, when we need to be vigilant, when we need to
strike, when we need to put the pressure on, and this type
of thing. We have a national meeting once a year. It is
usually going to be in Washington or some other place
throughout the nation. These people are very, very
effective. They were the ones that were responsible for
organizing and arranging the meeting that I had with Chiles
before the appropriations committee. As I said, they are
based in Washington and very effective. They are the
W:Within the context of working within these different lobbying
agencies that you subscribe to as a private citizen, have
you had any instances of running into official Florida
lobbyist or Florida administrative personnel?
M:Yes, as a matter of fact, the last year I was in Washington
(1994), I ran into President Lombardi [John Lombardi,
president, University of Florida, 1990-present]. As a
matter of fact, I had a meeting with Karen Thurman. When I
was just about finished, she said, "You know President
Lombardi will be here next. He is scheduled to come in
next." I said, "Do you mind if I just wait here? I will
just welcome him to your office." As he came in the office,
I said, "President Lombardi, it is a pleasure to have you
here. Welcome to Karen Thurmond's office." We had a big
chat about that one. As a matter of fact, that turned out
to be a good meeting or occasion to meet with the president
at Karen Thurmond's office. That same night they had Gator
night. All of the alumni from the D.C. area were meeting at
one of the buildings in the capital area. I was invited out
there, and I got a chance to meet some of the people working
in the federal government. They were surprised to see me
there. They thought I was traveling with President Lombardi
because I was doing my thing, just being the official
Florida host. It was an interesting experience.
Every now and then I will run across people from Florida who are
making the same type of visits. There are a lot of people
that are lobbying for various types of causes there. You
have got the dairy industry. The teachers are there. As a
matter of fact, whenever the educational organization is
there, if we find out what is on their agenda, we say we are
really supporting the effort there because it is about
education. Another one like Head Start. Most people would
think that Head Start, Upward Bound, and Student Support
Services are separated, but the money comes from the same
department. So when we are talking about Upward Bound, we
can also mention Head Start. What we have found out is that
a lot of these kids who are former Head Start kids are
coming into the Upward Bound Program. The reason Head Start
is successful is that they had somebody at the end of this
thing to really push them through to get them into college.
It has been the Upward Bound Program. What we have found
from just cursory studies is that there is a definite
connection between Upward Bound and Head Start.
The government should recognize that you just cannot serve them
on the front end during those initial years because they are
not going to get through. You need to get them initially
during the elementary, pick them up somewhere in the middle,
and push them through at the end. We have been part of that
conduit that has been set up. This year we are celebrating
our thirtieth year of the Upward Bound Program in the
nation. [It is] one of the most successful programs that
the government has ever come up with. I do not think that
they realize that. At least some people have not realized
that. It is so successful we now have a congressman from
Louisiana who is a former Upward Bound student, Cleo Fields.
M:Cleo Fields is an Upward Bound student. Albert Winn out of
Maryland was a former Student Support Services student.
Henry Bonea from Texas. There are probably some others in
there too. If they would just look back and say, "Hey, I
was associated with that program, they will find out they
are the beneficiaries of governmental programs. Now they
are in the top rungs of our government. So we know the
W:When you mentioned your work on behalf of these programs, you
talked about members of the United States House of
Representatives. You mentioned Governor Chiles. What type
of relationship have you been able to develop with the
senators of the state of Florida over the years, for example
former Governor Graham, now Senator Graham [Robert (Bob)
Graham, senator, 1987-present], and Senator Connie Mack
M:When I go to Washington, whether I am scheduled to go to their
offices or not, I go by there. I sign in on their books
anyway. If I do not even see them, I sign in and let them
know I was there. If I get the opportunity to say something
to them, I go in and say something to them. I always try to
maintain a relationship with the senators and any
representatives coming out of our district. I make sure I
get into their office. With Senator Graham, I have been in
his office he really should know me real well, but they have
got so many other people that I do not know him that well to
make that impact on him. I have been in that office a whole
bunch of times. Connie Mack has also been helpful to us
when we were fighting for our grant. His aides have been
very helpful to me. If anybody knows me, Congressman
Stearns really knows me. I have a real good relationship
with him. If I am going to support any Republicans (I am
definitely a Democrat), Stearns does not have any problem.
I support him and I tell the parents to support him. When
we were down and out, we could count on this guy. I think
he is more concerned about the kind of stuff that we do, in
spite of some other things you hear on radio and t.v. When
it comes down to supporting programs like Upward Bound, he
has been very supportive.
W:Where do you see the Upward Bound Program going over the next
M:If we can get the schools or the states to do what they are
supposed to be doing, we probably will not have a need for
it. I do not think they want to take on the challenge of
doing what they are supposed to be doing. The state
legislature is going to have to start putting money into
education instead of building jails. Just put the money
into education, and you would cut down on so many people
going into the jails. It is kind of hard to say where this
thing is going to go. I believe the federal government is
going to have to be involved with this process for some time
to come now.
W:As of yesterday, or a couple of days ago I believe, President
Clinton announced a review of the affirmative action
programs with the federal government. As we watched the
news with the Republican Contract With American, they seemed
to have identified Affirmative Action as something that
might have passed its time. They see cutbacks in those
areas as necessary to balance the federal budget. What
types of pressures do you think that these types of policies
will bring toward educating today children?
M:There is always a need for Affirmative Action because I just do
not believe that people are going to do what is right. You
are going to have some kind of program to make sure that you
treat people fairly, you give everybody an opportunity to
get a piece of the American pie. There is a great need for
Affirmative Action. If it were not for Affirmative Action,
I do not believe I would be at the University of Florida
right now. You might as well recognize that it has been a
good thing. I think the University of Florida has
benefitted from me being here, from you being here, and
others who have come here. It could not have been a one
person type show here with one ethnic group here. That is
not good for the country. I think there is a need for
Affirmative Action. I do not think Affirmative Action means
something for black folk. It should be something positive
that is something that is self directed, structured,
organized, moving in a direction that is going to benefit
the whole nation. That is what we are talking about. We
are going to affirm that we are doing what we are supposed
to be doing so that we can realize the full potential of all
the people. That is what Affirmative Action should be
about. Affirmative Action, as I know it right now, without
it, we will still be back in the 1960s just trying to get
those colored signs off the water fountains.
W:What are your hopes and dreams for the kids in the Upward Bound
M:I hope that they do not have to go through the crap that I have
gone through just to be a citizen of this United States, and
just to realize your full potential to be a full blown
citizen of this United States so that people will not be
judging you by the color of your skin but as Martin said, by
the content of your character. That is what I hope--that
the Upward Bound students will not go through what I have
gone through. I hope that they can realize their full
potential and have a better life and greater opportunities.
I can see some of them right now. They are having some
great opportunities. Some of them are not taking advantage
of them, but the opportunities are there. There are much
more opportunities than I had coming out of high school. As
a matter of fact, I just accidentally got into college.
There were no plans for me to go to college in the first
W:Where did you go to college?
M:I went to college at Florida A&M. If it were not for Mr. J.B.
Green, my agricultural instructor in Tampa, Florida, I would
not have been anywhere. There were no plans for me to go to
the army, and no plans for me to work anywhere. I was just
going to hang out. I was not thinking about it. I did not
make any plans to take any classes that would prepare me for
college. My mother had said if this boy can just complete
high school. I will be glad if he can just get out of high
school. She had never completed high school, so that would
have been an accomplishment for her son. Someone else said,
"Boy you have potential. You should go to college." So
here I am thinking, "Yeah, I should go to college, but how
am I going to go to college?" I did not have any money, so
I thought I would get me a catalog from Florida A&M and see
what it was about. It was $190. That was all I needed.
That was all I thought I needed. That was all I could read
in the book. They had the tuition costs, the housing, etc.
There were other costs in there. There were books, fees,
and other stuff. I did not know nothing about that. So I
just had about $250 I earned during the summer shining shoes
and cleaning yards.
So I go up to Tallahassee. I get up there and for one thing, it
is cold in Tallahassee. I go up there not prepared for the
weather with no topcoat and one little cheap gray suit that
I had. My shoes had holes in them. It was cold. I said,
"Boy, I have got to do something quick." They made us get
in the ROTC. I used to have on ROTC stuff all the time.
They thought I was gung ho. I did not like the ROTC. At
least they had a topcoat, hat, and decent shoes. I was
wearing that for the most part. I will back up a little
I did not have enough money to start out at Florida A&M. What I
did was pay the basic $90 tuition. You could take as many
courses as you want. I was able to pay for the dormitory.
I paid for that first semester, or whatever we were on. I
did not have any money for books, and I did not have any
money for food. The housing and the food were tied
together. You had to pay the two of them. I convinced them
that I did not have it, and if they would just let me in the
dormitory, I would try to pay them up next time. Just let
me pay the next time around next term. They did let me in
there. I arranged for meals from students who did not like
to get up to eat breakfast. I found out who they were, so I
would use their meal card. I found somebody who did not
want to eat lunch. Everybody wanted to eat the last meal.
So that is how I ate during that first term. I also used
peoples' books during the first time around. As I said, I
was wearing the ROTC stuff all the time. They thought I was
gung ho. I was a military man.
I got through that first term, and I missed the honor roll by
two-tenths of a point. I said, "Man, I can do college
work." In spite of all the difficulty I had, I said, "I can
do college work." Then it turned on. I had a job in
agriculture at the dairy. This was a good experience. I
have never been around cows in my life, coming from Key
West, even though I graduated from high school in Middleton
and through the agriculture thing. All we did was deal with
chickens. We had the chicken and the egg, stuff like that.
But a big 'ol cow? Here I am working in the dairy.
Talking about somebody scared then. I could not put on like
I was so scared. Every now and then, I would get a little
close to this cow, but I was scared to death. I worked
there during the first year getting up at 5:00 a.m. going
down to milk these cows, and at 5:00 p.m. So you had to
milk these cows twice a day.
W:How much did it pay?
M:$50 a month.
W:$50 a month for milking cows at 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
M:This was work study. This is how much I knew about what was
going on. They said, "You got a work study. You can get
$50 a month." I thought I was going to get that $50 when I
got to A&M. They said, "No, you have got to work first." I
had to work that first month. Then I started getting my
$50. Then I started buying stuff that I needed. I bought a
book, and some of the basic essential things. As I said, I
was able to make it that first term. I just missed the
honor roll. I said, "Hey, I can do this work."
W:You said you lived in the dorms. What dorm did you live in?
M:When I first got there, I was in Gibbs Hall.
W:Who was that named after?
M:It was named after Jonathan Gibbs, one of the vice presidents
of FAMU. Also, he was the attorney general way back there
(I think). After that first term, the next term I made the
W:At that time, Florida A&M was an all black university.
M:An all black university. We had a law school there, which they
subsequently took away. They should put it back. They took
a lot of things away, like agriculture. They cut that down.
They sent a lot of that stuff to the University of Florida.
They sent stuff over to FSU. I think what they were trying
to do was dismantle the school.
W:When you say they took the law school away, and they shipped
the agricultural programs away, what do you mean?
M:Well, they just disbanded the law school. It was no longer at
FAMU. They just took it. This was part of the dismantling
W:Did they dismantle the building?
M:No, it was located in the library. So the building was still
there where it was located.
W:But the accreditation was taken?
M:All of that yes. It was gone.
W:So where did black students go to law school?
M:Well, you know this is probably how this thing with Virgil
Hawkins happened. Here they are. They take that away. I
believe this was during the time that Virgil was trying to
get into law school somewhere. So he was going to try to
get into the University of Florida. I can see the fight
that they had. They did not want him to get in here. I do
not even know if FSU had a law school at that time. That is
where this law school actually went--into FSU.
W:So the FAMU Law School became the FSU Law School?
M:I think that is the way it goes. I am not sure on that. I do
not know whether FSU had a school at that time. If they had
one, there were two in Tallahassee, one for blacks and one
W:Approximately what year was this?
M:This was in 1958. 1958, 1959, or 1960--somewhere in that
range. I went to A&M in 1958. The law school was there.
Jesse McCrary, a prominent lawyer and judge today, is one of
the products of that school. Alcee Hastings and all these
people. I think Leanda Shaw. Some of those people. There
are some prominent people. Althena Joiner out of Tampa, and
several people became lawyers.
We were talking about my first year at A&M. After that, things
turned good. I started feeling real good about myself. I
started saving some of my $50. I started picking up little
odd jobs, and finding ways to make ends meet. Eventually, I
graduated from Florida A&M with a B.S. in agriculture and a
commission in the United States Army. I was commissioned as
a second lieutenant in the field artillery. I went to Fort
Sill [Lawton, Oklahoma]. I participated in the artillery
officers advanced school.
W:Following a brief interruption, we will continue our interview.
We were at Fort Sill.
M:After I left Fort Sill, Oklahoma, my next duty station was in
Germany. I spent three years with a one,
five, five millimeter Howitzer unit.
W:What unit was that?
M:It is the second of the thirty-second, seventh artillery.
After leaving Germany, I went directly to Vietnam. I spent
one year with the second of the thirty-second artillery,
which is an eight inch, one-seven-five unit. My main
responsibility of duty there was as a S-3. I was in charge
of the intelligence operation of the unit, and the air
observers, and gathering information for the unit.
W:Where were you deployed at Vietnam?
M:Two places. I was mainly in the Cuchi. Cuchi is down around
the third corp area, and west of Saigon. It is between the
Cambodian border. I was with the twenty-fifth infantry
division, which is Tropic Lightning out of Hawaii. That was
the main base. We were supporting them with the field
artillery. Anytime the infantry went out and they needed
heavy artillery, it was our job to support them.
W:What was the second place besides Cuchi?
M:Tainan. Tainan is right on the border of Cambodia. My job as
S-3 was gathering intelligence and keeping those kinds of
operations going. I am not a pilot, but I knew how to fly
the L-19 Bird dog. It was a two-seater. It is like the
Cessnas that you have up here.
W:I saw the movie Bat 21 with Danny Glover. He was a bird dog,
that is what they called the plane that he was in. What
exactly are the operations of bird dog?
M:We were air observers. Our job was to spot enemy actions or
support our units on the ground from the air. We would call
in this artillery. We knew where our guns were, and we
would call in artillery to support guys on the ground.
W:How long were you there?
M:One year. [[end of tape]].
W:I am with G.W. Mingo. We were talking about his experiences in
M:Everyone in Vietnam was in some type of action. There were no
lines set up where this was the front line or this was the
rear action. You were always into something. As a field
artillery officer, our job was not to go out and beat the
bush down. We were always out there prowling on a search
and destroy type mission. We were stationed in an area with
these guns. We could hit anything within the range of that
operation that might be being conducted by the infantry.
Even though we were not on the line or out there doing that
search and destroy thing, we were in the battle area. They
would rather knock out our guns, so that we could not
support those guys out in the fields. So you would get
mortared. In the case of me with the aircraft, we were
always being shot at. Just imagine any aircraft and
somebody on the ground. Now I have got a gun. They can
shoot up there at any time they wanted to. I guess we were
lucky in that they did not have missiles that were shooting
at [us]. I think they had the capability of doing it.
W:When you say they, do you mean the North Vietnamese?
M:The North Vietnamese, Vietcong, or whatever you want to call
it. It was not too uncommon for us to have bullet holes in
the aircraft. Most people familiar with aircraft will know
that your gas tanks are in your wings. You have self
sealing type gas tanks. [[interruption in tape]]. You did
not get a bullet in there unless they shot a phosphorous
type round or something at you. That would knock you out.
Getting shot at was just something that one gets accustomed
to. If you are fighting in Vietnam, you are in the
battlefield unless you are back at a post-op or somewhere
off on a ship. There were some secure areas. I think most
of the field artillery units that I knew were out close to
or in a position where you could get mortared.
W:So you were constantly in jeopardy.
M:Oh yes. I did not take anything for granted. Even though we
could go for days and days and nothing would happen. All of
a sudden, boom. You got mortar incoming, and you got to be
on your p's and q's. If you have intelligence that has a
unit in the area you better be watching out for certain
types of things. You would be on your p's and q's.
W:Do you stay in contact today with many of the men and women
that you met in Vietnam?
W:Is it just that you fell out with each other?
M:When I left Vietnam, that was not something that I was proud of
that I had done. I do not have any fond memories or all
this kind of stuff. I just never tried to find anybody. I
had an experience, and I think that is why I got out of the
military. A friend of mine and I were ROTC instructors at
Lincoln University in Missouri. That was after I got out of
Vietnam. His name was Captain James Russ. The military
assigned us as instructors at Lincoln University in
Missouri. He was planning on getting out of the military
and going to work on his masters and this type of thing. He
decided that he would stay in the military and do that. So
he get orders for Vietnam. Then he is really deciding
whether he should stay or go. He had already been over
once. So he goes back again. They promote him to major.
They were not going to promote him to major until he got to
Vietnam. So he goes and gets promoted to major. He does
not come back. He gets shot down a month or so before he
was supposed to come back. He was shot down in a
His wife called me and asked me if I would go pick up the body
out of California and escort it back to Florida. So I go
and escort the body back to Florida, and stay with the
family for a week to make sure that all the arrangements are
taken care of, the whole works. I was thinking, "That could
be me there. Russ was saying I should get out of this thing
now. I do not know whether I want to go back over there."
They held up his promotion until he got over there. So here
they were doing the same thing to me. I had orders to back
to Vietnam. I am thinking, "Maybe I can wait until December
when I finish my masters." I was working on my masters. I
wanted to know where I was going to go in Vietnam. Then I
wanted to know about my promotion. I was due for major too.
I did not get any of that. I did not get any answers. I
went to Washington and the whole works. Here I am now
escorting this guys body back to Florida. I said, "Man we
were following the same kind of path. They did the same
thing to this guy." I decided that after I settled
everything with the family, I would give this thing one more
try. I would go back to Washington and see what I could
find out. I go back there and nobody could do anything. So
I decided I was done. I gave them my commission. I
resigned from the military.
W:When did you resign your commission?
M:I resigned in 1970. I just gave up in 1970.
M:No. I have no regrets. The only regret I have is that I do
not have the pension. I wish I could have stayed there for
twenty and gotten that military pension. Then again, I
might have been like my buddy Russ. Whenever I go to the
Vietnam Memorial, I find Russ' name. Somebody could be
finding my name on the wall. The same kinds of things that
were happening to him were happening to me. I said, "Boy, I
do not want to come back in this box." You could not open
the casket. He was shot down, and burnt beyond recognition.
I just decided I would get out of the military. Since I
was working on my masters at the same time, I just got out
and told them I would leave because I wanted to work on my
masters. After I leave my masters, I would probably come
back. Those were my intentions. I left the military with
the intention of completing my masters and then coming back
in. After I completed my masters, I got a job. Things were
not bad. I was not making the kind of money I was making in
the military, but it still was not bad. I figured I would
I ended up coming back to Florida and started getting involved in
little things. [I was] doing just as well as I probably
could have done in the military. I would have made more
money in the military. I definitely would have made more
money. I probably would have gotten pretty high in the
ranking too, but that is a chance kind of thing. I might
not have come back. I do not really regret it because some
of the guys that stayed in, got out, retired, and got their
little pension going do not have things that I have. I have
connections with people in the community. I have the
doctorate. I am making a little bit of money. I have
properties. I have certain things. I have all most as much
as they have. I wish I had that cash flow. If I had that
cash flow, I would be doing a whole lot better than what I
am doing now. That is the only thing that I really miss.
W:You mentioned the Vietnam War Memorial. I think that is
interesting. My father is also a Vietnam veteran. He was
in the 82nd on the brag. He and I never talk about what
M:I do not like to talk about Vietnam either. I do not go to any
Vietnam movies. This is the most I have talked about
Vietnam in a long time. I do not really like to talk about
it. Your father probably had more hairy experiences than I
had. As an 82nd airborne, this guy was out pounding the
bushes. That was not my thing. I do not think the
experiences I had were worthwhile. I do not enjoy talking
about it. It was an unpopular war. In a sense it pisses me
off. When I got back from Vietnam, I thought things might
be a little different in how they treat people. I do not
feel like people respect me for who I am, not that I am
supposed to be set up on a pedestal because I have gone to
Vietnam and fought a war. The kind of discrimination and
attitudes that people have towards blacks, like you have not
done anything for your country, really bothers me. It
really bothers me. I do not necessarily like to get up here
and tell people I have been over there. Some people say,
"Oh he has done nothing for his country." Some people have
done more than some of these people who are saying what they
have done. They have got some frauds up there. They are
talking about how they have had the Vietnam experience and
they have not had anything.
I do not think I have been to any movie related to the Vietnam
War at all. Not one. Every now and then I will watch
something on television, especially if I see something in
the area that I was serving in. Every now and then Cuche
and Tainan will come up. I remember one time I was telling
my son, "Yeah, I was right in that area right there. You
see that boy?" I point out stuff to him. I do not have any
great joy over that.
W:Would you like to go back one day and see the places they
M:Yes. Vietnam is a pretty place. From what I could tell of the
terrain and stuff that I have seen, it is a pretty place. I
would not mind going back. I am not going to make any major
effort to go back over there though. I have seen it. If I
go anywhere, I am going over to Africa. That is where I
need to go and see my own country.
W:Do you speak any Vietnamese or did you learn any while you were
M:The only thing that I learned was dau we. That means captain.
I did not want to learn any Vietnamese. I did not want to
be around the Vietnamese. Not that I hated the people.
That was not my war. That really was not something that I
was trying to do. I did not want to learn anything. I did
not trust them. I was protecting myself. I think a lot of
our people got killed because they were too trusting and too
naive. I did not take any chances, even though being up in
that aircraft was a chancy thing. That was really
dangerous. Some of the things we did in the aircraft were
dangerous. I know I did not have any great desire to learn
Vietnamese at all. When I was in Germany, I learned German.
I can hold a pretty decent conversation in German.
W:Let us move to a higher note and get away from Vietnam. You
mentioned once to me that you had visited Spain. What was
your travel in Europe like?
M:When I was stationed in Germany for three years, every weekend
my wife and I would travel somewhere in Europe. We were not
going to be like the ugly Americans over there and try to
make the United States happen in Germany, or trying to look
for the stuff. We went out every weekend. We took a train
or a bus. When we got our car, we traveled all around in
our car every weekend. Austria was one country that was
really close to where we were. We would go into Austria.
Then we took about a thirty day trip throughout. We went to
Switzerland, Italy, and Milan. We hit the Riviera, Nice,
Cannes, and the area all around the Pyrenees. We went down
into Spain and hit Barcelona, Sevilla, Roda, and Madrid. We
went everywhere. We went to Roda and crossed over into
North Africa at Morocco. We spent about three days over
there. We came back and were going to go into Portugal. I
said, "No we better get our tail out of here and get back up
into France." We wanted to spend some time in Paris. So we
came up the eastern side of Spain along the Portugal border.
W:The western side?
M:The western side going up into France. We came through
Marseilles and some other places up in there. We got into
Paris and spent about three days there. We had a real good
time. We went out through Luxembourg. We just had a good
time visiting. That was part of our thing. We wanted to
see as much of Europe as we could possibly see while we were
over there for three years.
W:What three years were those?
M:There was 1963 through 1966.
W:How did your family get started? You and your wife met where?
M:My wife and I met at Florida A&M. Her family is from
Tallahassee. We just happened to meet through a Methodist
W:What year was that?
M:That was in 1962.
W:What was it that attracted you to her?
M:She was a nice, young lady. This is what was happening. I was
running track. I ran cross country track at Florida A&M.
We would run our cross country track meets in relation to
the football games that they had. So she was a cheerleader.
So we were running track. We were traveling with the
football teams, and we would run our cross country meets
prior to the events. As we would start to run, the end of
that meet would come into that stadium. They had this thing
running like a marathon. It was really neat. I had the
opportunity to run with the football team, the cheerleaders,
and the track team. I got a chance to meet with them. We
were part of the Methodist Student Organization too. That
is how I got tied up. I also used to play the steel drums.
At all the football games, we had the stadium rocking.
[[break in tape]].
Back in the 1960s, if anybody can remember, when we had these
steel drums going, the stands would really be rocking. A
couple of us guys from south Florida who had the Bohemian
kind of connections had that rhythm and could play that
stuff. That was part of my little thing. My wife got to
know me by that thing too. By way of information, I am a
Bohemian extraction from Key West. My mother and father's
people are from the Bahamas. So that side came out of
Nassau, and my father's side came out of Eleuthera. That is
W:Would you like to mention any of the members of your family?
M:My great grandfather from Eleuthera was Frank Mingo. One of
his sons was Reynold Mingo. That was my grandfather. My
father's name is Reynold Mingo Jr. On my mother's side of
the family, Justina Hamilton came out of Nassau. Her
husband, Wilfred Strong was born in St. Sebastian of Cat
Island. From that marriage came my grandmother Zerlina.
W:Who was her husband?
M:She actually was married twice. Her first husband was Frank
Sawyer. From that marriage came my mother and my Uncle
Frank, who is deceased now. She married again to Namond
Reckley. They had a daughter named Gwendolyn who died of
lock jaw. Gwendolyn is part of where my name came from. My
father's mother's name was Irma Curtis. Her mother was
Elizabeth Dean out of Nassau.
W:Is there anything else you would like to add to conclude the
interview Dr. Mingo?
M:I enjoyed the interview. Hopefully, it will be of some benefit
to somebody in the future. I hope that the University of
Florida will start doing what they can do to make this a
great university. It will never be a great university if
they do not utilize the resources that they have. You
cannot be wasting stuff.
W:Thank you very much, Dr. Mingo, of the Upward Bound Program at
the University of Florida. This concludes our interview.
Thank you once again.