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FAB 060 Interviewee: Rosa Williams Interviewer: Joel Buchanan Date of Interview: February 27, 1996 B : Testing one, two, three, four. Testing one, two three, four. I'm Joel Buchana n doing an interview this morning with Rosa B. Williams for the living history project. Today's date is 2 27 96. We're at Rosa Williams office at T acachale Rosa is the director of volunteer service. Good morning, Rosa. W: Good morning, Joel. B: Can you tell me what the "B" stands for you're name? W: Bell. B: Bell. Why do you not use Bell? W: Because I don't like Bell. B: You do not like Bell? Rosa how many years h ave you been a community service worker? W: I began when I was eighteen years old. B: What brought about you starting doing community service? W: I can't remember but something came up back during that time which made me mad I guess but I know whatever it was it just started me into taking more concern about senior citizen and kids at that time. B: I see. Now were you living in Gainesville when you started? W: Yes. B: You were. Now let's first find out a little bit about your family. Where were you bo rn, Rosa? W: In Starke, Florida.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 2 B: Starke, Florida. Your birth date, please. W: 9 29 33. B: 9 29 33. Are you the only child? W: No. My mother have one, two, three, four; she had four other children. B: Four children. Where you the oldest? W: No. I have three big so I was the baby until Betty came along. B: Alright, and tell me the name of your mother and father. W: My mother's name as Catherine Hayes, my father's name was Lucious Williams. B: Lucious Williams. How long did you live in, did you sa y Starke you was born in. W: I guess I stayed there, from what they tell me, about two weeks after I was born. B: Oh really? So pretty much you've been in Gainesville all your life. W: Here, yeah, here and in Bronson, FL. B: So how long did you live in B ronson? W: From [knock at door] come in I'm sorry about that. [Interruption] W: Let's see from the early I think through all the forties if I'm not mistaken. B: Oh really? So you actually left Starke an d came here and then went to Bro nson. W: And t he baby, yeah.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 3 B: And the baby. What was your education? Where you educated in the school system here? W: No I went here for about six months and then when my mother decide to stay on down in Bro nson then I went in the Levy county school system. B: I se e. Now why did you're parents move from Gainesville to Bro nson? Do you happen to know? W: My daddy, my real daddy, he and my Momma just didn't get along. I guess after I was born her older sister came and got her and brought her here. And then she met the man who she eventually married the father, well you know, Roosevelt. B: Oh that was your step father. Okay. W: But most to me he was my real father because he's the one who took care of me. And he's had this house and a farm in Bro nson and so she just moved down there with him. And everybody liked it down there because it was a big old place a farm and animals and everything. And she didn't she did not want me staying over here on my auntie and them you know she wanted all of us down there It e nded up some of my first cousins went down there and they stayed also. B: So you spent most of your early years in Bro nson? W: Yes. B: Did you enjoy being in Bronson ? W: Yes it was a nice place. There was a bunch of young people down there at that time.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 4 B : Now tell me what was your occupation for your mother and father. What did they do for a living? W: My mother was a house wife. When I was small I can remember her working out either taking in laundry at her house. But she never worked out after I got bigger. My father, you mean Roosevelt, I can tell you about him. B: Yeah which one Roosevelt okay that's alright. W: I can't tell you anything about my real father. B: Okay. W: Okay. But my father first he was cutting cross t ies then he worked at a saw mill and then when he came here to live a long time back well then he started to work at Alachua General Hospital and then he worked two jobs Alachua General Hospital and the University of Florida. B: You mentioned his first job was cutting cross ties W: Yes. B: What's that? W: You know that when you go out into the woods and cut down trees, you know, these cross ti es that you put on the railroad track. B: Oh yeah the wood that goes across that. W: Yeah but you have to cut down the tree first. So they w ere cutting down trees, pine trees. B: I see. Did Rosa have a responsibility on the farm? W: Yeah feeding the pigs, cows, chickens, doing everything else.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 5 B: Did you happen to work in the crops in the fields? W : Mmm hmm. Well you know we planted peanu ts and all but we did have to go out on the farm and pick okras, potatoes, I mean cut okras and potatoes. I did everything most on the farm. B: Have you? W: Mm h m. We used to go out and make about $.25 for a little basket. B: $.25 for a little basket. H ard day's work wasn't it? W: Yeah. B: Rosa what do you remember pleasant about your schooling? Is there anything that stands out in your mind about your schooling that could have helped motivate you to become a community activist? W: In the county areas, when you back in that time you only had one room. You know you had that one room and that one teacher all day long until you got up to the eighth grade. But I think that one teacher she always, it was a she and a he, and they was always talking to us abo ut you know caring for each other. Especially the elderly and the little kids, but that's something that we talked about quite often you know and everybody had to take their lunch, and i t was more of a family tha n a school. B: Oh really? Do you happen to remember those teachers' names? W: One of them names was Reverend L.U. Marbley and I c annot think of this woman's name. He was the one, he was there the longest.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 6 B: The longest? I see. And so everything you had was in one classroom. Well how did you know if you went from one grade to another grade? W: Because you was promoted. If you was in the seventh grade you was in one room You didn't have to change, you had your same teacher. B: The same teacher. W: If you was in the eighth grade you was in ano ther room. B: I see. Very well. Let's say you did all of your early schooling in Bronson. And so when you came to Gainesville you had pretty much done all the schooling. W: Yes. We didn't move back here until after we had got through school. And the r eason why how come that happened was my mother did not want us somehow to get, how can we put it? She felt like that if we stayed over here that even back in those days would get kind of out of control of our bringing up. So she wanted us to stay in the country until we got older or growner B: I see. And so you came to Gainesville pretty much as a grown young lady. W: Yeah but see I used to come over here and spend weekends with Aunt Nancy and them. But I would be anxious to get back to Bronson beca use I didn't know what we had missed while we was over here. B: I see. W: It had a movie t heater and a place that the kids went and everything. B: Now, excuse me, where did you're Aunt Nancy live in Gainesville?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 7 W: During that times she was living, you kno w where Mr. Henry Cupperton and them house on Eighth Ave nue down there by ________ house? B: Yes. W: She was living in a little house behind that house. B: And how did you get from Bronson to Gainesville? W: Come on the bus. B: On the bus. Do you know wha t it cost? W: Oh, a bout $.50 probably if we came on the bus. B: Aha. When you got to Gainesville what was one of your first responsibilities here? W: I can't remember that. B: What was your first job? W: Working at Alachua General Hospital running the el evator. B: Did you? How long did you do that? W: I guess for about five years. B: Five years. W: And I could tell you what I made a week. B: What did you make a week? W: $13.50. That always stuck in my mind. B: $13.50. And you ran the elevator at Alachu a General Hospital. After you finished doing that what did you do? W: I went to work as a maid. B: What family?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 8 W: The Ste a rics Deborah and Jane Ste a ric B: And how long did you do that? W: Oh for a long time. Until in the probably the beginning of th e seventies. B: Of the seventies. Now let's go back for a moment. So you were working at the hospital. Where were you working during the Civil Rights period? W: As a maid. B: At the Ste a rics W: Yeah. She's the one that pushed me out there, really sta rted pushing me out there. B: And what do you mean by that? W: Well she used to go to the librar y and pick up my books for me. You know she would go and then she would get me something. She would bri ng me a list of what they had. And so she said one day th at she wasn't going to bring me back and I was going to go myself. And I said, well how are you going to do that. And she said well you just watch and see you're going to start going up there your own self. And when I say "push if it had not been for her I wouldn't have went to the library and insist that I get a library card, which I was the first black person which finally got one. B: Really? How many times did you have to try to do that? W: Oh it took us about two or three months. B: And so that's the reason you went and did that, because of her. W: Yeah. She used to pick up me books and I'd bring them back and that started from that. Then when the Democrat Club was home around here
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 9 then pretty soon she got me involved in that she was insistent th at I go to their lunches and things and I was the only black person you know. B: I see. W: Yeah but she would take me lots of places. B: So that was one of your beginning parts of being involved in the community. Do you remember what it was like trying t o get that library card? Were they nice to you? W: Well they wasn't rude but they would just ask me so many questions which they had to check out like what church I was a member of, what organizations I was a member of, some neighbors they had to verify t hat I live where I say that I did. B: All to get a library card. And where was this library located? Which one? W: You know where the America Legions place is now? It was in that building right next to that before they tore it down. B: It was almost ne ar where they I'll say t he back half of the new library, middle of Lincolnville, over by the Brand. W: Yeah. B: I see. Did Ms. Ste a ric ever go in there with you? W: Yeah, the first time I went she went with me. Yeah. B: I see. And that got you involved. T ell me, were you active in the Civil Rights Movement? W: Yes. We used to meet down to to my car every afternoon, you know, because all of the places you was going to picket at or where you was
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 10 going to march at. Yes, I was very active in that. The Gainesvi lle Women for Equal Rights, and there were a whole bunch of us. We had just as many whites, sometimes more whites than we had blacks. It was during the time when Reverent Wright first came here, and I forgot what year that was. But I know he was the pastor of that church during that time and we was meeting down there like every day, you know. B: And so you say you had as many white members of the NAACP as black? W: No, well you said the Civil Rights Movement. B: Movement, okay. So you are saying that there were people that actually participated in the movement who was not W: Not an NAACP representative, there was NAACP members in the Gainesville Women's League, but you were right. At that time, I was a member of both groups. B: You were? W: Yeah, the Gain esville Women's and the NAACP. B: How did you become a member of the Gainesville W: Women for Equal Rights? I think it was Dean Charmers who finally asked me, and Barbara Higgins who come in at the same time. B: And Barbara Higgins is the former person wh o worked at the Supervisor of Election office. W: Yeah, and you know, she was the first black president of the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights, also. B: I didn't know that. Really? Were you ever president?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 11 W: No. B: Never president? W: No, I've always stayed in the background, don't like to do things like that. B: Why? W: I just don't. B: Well being a member of this group, did you have any difficult times becoming a member? W: Of the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights? No, because they was out actuall y recruiting black women because the same thing what they was working on Civil Rights issues. You know, getting it so blacks could go to counter, sit at the counter, you know, just like go to the library like I had did a long time ago, integrate some board s. Start working at picking the Boys Club it was out on Waldo Road during that time. So they was involved in doing everything what we was involved in doing. So the two groups was better by working together. B: By working together. I see. And were you stil l at this point still working with the Stearics? W: Yes. B: And she encouraged you to get involved. W: Mm hm. B: And while you were a member of the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights, did you find any resistance of you being a part of the organization at all?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 12 W: No, at that time some of the black members, like some of these teachers and all didn't think that Barbara and I should have been over there because we didn't have that high education. B: I was going to ask you about that. You had more of a resentme nt from the black people. W: Yeah, mm hm. B: Oh, I see. So how did you deal with that? Or did you deal with it? W: I didn't even deal with it, you know what I'm saying? It was like that don't bother me. My old saying is that Rosa takes care of herself. A nd what's going to happen is going to happen. So to me, it was just like rain falling on me. You know, I don't worry about what people say. I don't have time to. And I say if they talking about me, I must be doing something good or something other, if they 're taking out their energy time to talk about me. B: That's very, very true. W: So I'm happy about that, as long as they doing that I know I'm still alive. B: That's right. I read somewhere where the Gainesville Equal Rights, ah, the Women's for Equal Ri ghts was the person of the group that was the first black to run for commissioner, who was, ah, Cora Robeson, is that true? W: Yeah. She was a member of that group at that time. B: Oh, she was a member also? W: Yeah. B: And I heard they were also in charg e of helping to establish the first black daycare center, is that correct?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 13 W: Ah, it was a day school, and I forgot, it wasn't a daycare center, I forgot what they call it now. We had our classes out there in a mobile, you know like what they put around th e schools? Out there by Lincoln Middle School. Now I forgot what the name of it was. You've heard of a Ron Burnett, didn't you? B: Yes. W: He was the first director of what they had there. B: I see. W: Mm hm. B: And did you all establish a daycare program? W: It was that school. You could call it a daycare program but we didn't call it that. And I forgot what it was. Dean Chamers probably can answer that question. B: You became a member of the group and then you were also a member of the NAACP. What was yo ur role in the NAACP? W: I was one of the vice presidents for a long time. B: I see. Was the activities very significant and also did you have a large membership? W: Yeah, we had a large membership and we had a very good organization. Very good. Back in th ose days we had a really good organization. We used to meet on Sunday nights when we did meet downstairs at old Mount Carmel Church. That place would be packed. B: Would it be?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 14 W: Mm hm. B: And did Rosa participate in the picket lines in the city of Gaine sville? W: Yeah, ah ha. B: Tell me some of the places that you picketed if you can remember. W: That place, what is, um? Its not on campus now, they call it the Walker the sandwich shop. The College Inn. B: The College Inn across from University of Flor ida. W: Okay, yeah, and the Walker House. B: Which was downtown. W: Yeah, it was downtown. And then Dean Chamers and me and some other white person would go into places to see if they would serve us, which we knew that some of them wasn't going to serve u s, or some of them would say, "Tell Jean we'll serve her, but we don't have to serve you." B: Oh, really? W: Yeah. B: And would she sit and be served or would she just leave? W: No we both would leave, you know. B: Mm hm. W: And then a black and a white person would go and apply for a job, the black person would go first and see what the company had to say, and then an hour later, the white person would go and apply for that same job, and then we would compare notes and see what both of them was told,
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 15 and there were some that we needed to be working on, and we'd start working on that also. B: So you have seen Gainesville change almost circle all the way around. Do you think it's in for the better or for the worst? W: In some cases, its better, but we stil l have a long, long ways to go. Yeah, you know, we can go and eat in these motels or hotels and we can go eat in these white cafÂŽs, but to me, its more than just eating, you know, what still needs to be worked on. I still think that there's lots of unjust when it come to hiring people for a job or hiring people for good paid jobs, you know. And I just think that the blacks sketch on they're blunt, and a lots of people they scared of the young black male, I guess on account of how they dress or how they wear they hair, so they look at one person but they judge everybody else by that one person, so we have a lot of discrimination with that. B: True said, I see. During the Civil Rights period, which would come at the sixties now, was Rosa William's ever life e ver threatened? W: Uh uh. I had peoples call to my house, but I would cuss, I got to cussing them out, they didn't call me back. B: [Laughter] You would literally cuss them out? W: I would, if somebody would ever call my child home. B: Were you ever afr aid being on the picket line? W: No. B: Why weren't you?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 16 W: I was just hoping wouldn't nobody spit on me or something, no. At that time, Joel, that age and time, you don't be scared, you know. Because you was out there with a whole bunch of other people, you know, and everybody was out there, we knew, for a right cause. B: A right cause. And here we got things done. W: Mm hm. B: What do you think has brought about the reason people are not very active in the NAACP today? W: I think a lots of them has goo d jobs or good homes or cars and they want to forget about where they came from probably and they don't want to be bothered. Only until something happens to them. B: I see. W: Mm hm. But NAACP today is not like it was a long time ago, I mean we would le ave our jobs and go right there to Mount Carmel Church and we had we went back to back with that. B: I guess because you relied that you were working for a very serious cause and you could really see the need for doing that. Do you think that's the reason why? W: Yeah, but see, you have a lots of people now, I'm talking about black people. They don't want to get involved with things around here, you know we got a lots of young people saying this time wouldn't need help, and the black people of today, they j ust don't seem to care, were in back in those
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 17 days, you had community, you had your next door neighbor, you had your friends and all. But everybody now they just seem to B: Think for themself now. W: Yeah. B: I see. So let's ask this question you left th e Stearic's, and when you left the Stearic's home, working for them what did you do then? W: I went into Bell Nursery Daycare Center and the Community Action Agency. B: Oh really? How long did you work there? W: The Community Action Agency? Probably about five or six years. I was there way before Oscar and them came. B: Were you? W: Mm hm. Me and, um, Reverend Kimmon and Don Red and Helen Cesaire and Elizabeth from Archer, was about ten of us was the first blacks who they hired at the Community Action Agen cy B: And where was that located? W: At the time when they hired us they didn't have an office, it was in the courthouse. Harvey Weston was the administrator during that time. B: Oh really? W: And then we got a building, it's torn down. Right down in tha t area where, um, Sweetwater, you know where this place is on University Avenue? It was right there in that area somewhere.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 18 B: I see, and what did you do when you worked at the Community Action Agency? W: I was the Supervisor of Outreach worker. B: Were you? And when you say Outreach Work what did those persons do? W: They worked out of a just like the Waldo Community Center, Hawthorne Community Center, it would be out in those places, you know, setting up programs and things and working with the communit y to get programs going on. B: Do you feel that you was very successful with what you did? W: Yeah, because that's how the Hawthorne Daycare Center got started, the High Springs Daycare Center, the Archer Daycare Center, the Newberry Daycare Center, the No rtheast Daycare Center, that was how they got started, from the outreach workers. B: I see. And when you left there, where did you go? W: I was working at the Community Action Agency and I also was working at Bell Nursery. B: Now what dod you do at Bell N ursery? W: Cook. B: You were a cook? W: Mm hm. B: And Bell Nursery, for information purposes, Bell Nursery is one of the oldest daycare centers in the Fifth Avenue community.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 19 W: Yeah, well I'm not sure about that because St. Augustine was maybe older. B: A nd Bell Nursery was started by, I think, was it W: I can't think of her name. Wasn't her last name was Bell? B: Yes, Mrs. Bell. So you worked there as a cook. And so when you left Bell Nursery and Community Action Agency, where did you go? W: I stayed in daycare, this was in the head A four C office. B: What now? W: A four C: Alachua County Coordinat ed Child Care. They was the one who was funding money to these daycare centers. So I went in the office along with Armani Frankfield. B: How long were you ther e? W: I was there until I started here. B: Well I remember you being very much involved in the A four C, and what was your role in the office with Armani Frankfield? W: Certifying the peoples, you know, when they applying for daycare, and what I mean by ce rtifying, you know you have an application process you have to go through, so that's what I was doing. Now, and during that time, when the parents fill out the application, they could pick and choose and go to whatever daycare center they wanted to, but th ey mostly w ent to the one which was in their area. But now, from what I can understand, you know, they just give a voucher or something or other, you know. And you
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 20 can get any and everybody, you know, to keep your child. You know, I don't know, but it's no t like it was when I was there. B: Of the jobs that you've had, which one did you find most enjoyable for Rosa? W: You talking about leading up to now? I'll have to say two The Community Action Agency getting the tutoring program started, and this one here working with the handicapped. B: You mentioned about the tutoring program, so you enjoyed it while you were at the Community Action Agency? W: Mm hm. Because we had started classes cooking classes, tutoring programs and all. And we worked with both kids a nd senior citizens. B: I see. And now the position you're in now is what? W: It's the coordinator of volunteer services, and that is certifying all of the volunteers, you know, get them out here to do programs or get involved with programs here. [Knockin g] Come in. [Interruption] Now, these peoples here need a lots of help and we don't get enough money to go around Robert you tagged that one yesterday. [Interruption] B: Was the Community Action Agency, when you were there pretty much a black organizat ion? W: In town, but out in Hawthorne, Archer, Waldo, and all of those places it was mixed.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 21 B: It was mixed. And so the program W: And Grove Park even was mixed. B: So the daycare programs you were doing were pretty much to help the entire community. W: Y eah. B: I see. [Interruption] B: Now, as the volunteer service coordinator for the Tacachale, what does that entail? W: That entails when a volunteer the students come here for intern, the volunteers would have to make up their 20 hours a week, the nutri tion peoples, the OT peoples, the PT, anything where peoples come here to volunteer from the University of Florida or from Santa Fe There's the sororities, fraternities, and anything. B: I see, and now do you also take donations? W: Yeah. B: All of the do nations come through this office? W: Yeah, if it go to a home then the home has to send me a list of everything also. But the money part, most money part come through this office. B: I see. Do you enjoy what you're doing? W: Mm hm. B: Why is it that you're enjoying what you're doing now?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 22 W: Because its giving me a chance to work and do something for some peoples who did not ask to be born the way they are, and they are the most forgotten bunch, you know. Tacachale have a hard time getting money out of the s tate, but the prison system get everything what they want. These people, you know, they just born like they was. And I just enjoy, you know, they enjoy the same thing what everybody else enjoy, and I just like having a way for them to enjoy some of getting volunteers to do something, you know, what would make things more better for them. B: Now, you are considered a very significant person in Gainesville that you get involved in so many things. I know it's going to be hard for you to say the one thing you' ve done that you find that you really are very proud of. What is that one thing, if you had to say, of all of the things Rosa's done, I heard that you helped with the daycare centers, you've helped many persons get elected to vote, you've organized many or ganizations in the black community, you're chairing some of the groups now, if there is one thing or two things that you've done that you find very signific ant W: Working with teenagers, younger kids, and senior citizens. I know that's not answering your question but I don't know B: For instance, the black on black taskforce that you chaired, do you feel that you've been very helpful through that organization? W: Yes, mm hm. B: Tell me something about that.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 23 W: That organization is for to help organize and support other crime watch organization. Okay, now what our organization is abundantly black on black crime task force is we call it Departers Against Crime. We cannot say Big Brothers and Big Sisters because they already have a Big Brother and Big Sister program. So we call it Departers Against Crime where we place somebody with a child with need, as we call it a department, you know, to go to a basketball game, to take that child out somewhere. [tape break] B: P.K. Yonge Advisory Board, and that's P.K. Yo nge School, alright. What's your excuse me, go ahead. W: I don't call these crime watch groups that I go to. B: Weren't you on the board of directors at the Hippodrome at one point? W: At one point, yeah. But I'm not on it now. Besides some of the things I'm a member of the [ 30:05 elapsed]. B: Alright, what else? W: I'm thinking about that. B: Alright. While you're thinking, I'm going to ask you thing question as the director of the United Gainesville, what have you all done there that is significant, th at you feel that's important? W: Um, Porters O ak Community Center. B: Porter's O ak Community Center. W: Yeah. B: I'll wait until you come back.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 24 W: I was looking for [30:40 elapsed], I saw it somewhere. B: Well we're going to have to get it down at one poin t and put a list of those things together. W: No, I got it in my file cabinet. B: Now tell us something about the Porters Oak and the Community Center. W: Porters Oak was built, you know, for houses, for people styled houses and then just regular flat hous es, and then from Porters Oak, the county give us one of the old Bridge House Building, and so we in turn proceed to remodel it and put a community center there with the help of the city and we do have the community center there, and I'm really proud of th at because the Porters area has not had the recreation facilities they deserve to have, so I'm just really proud of that. Also you didn't see them make laws to small business and things, and we cover area county district. And I'm really proud about that, y ou know, just knowing we have helped someone expand their business or begin a new business. B: Well now Rosa, all of these things you doing is volunteer, do you not want to do them and get paid for it? W: No. B: Why? W: Because I think you know people sho uld give their time or volunteer in the community. B: The City of Gainesville several years ago named the old I call it the old, the black recreation center in your honor. What do you feel about that
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 25 center? Is there anything you'd like to see down at the Rosa B. Williams Center or how do you feel that you have a center named for you? W: I think that the center probably needs some new furniture and, you know, and everything like that in it. They have decided to put some stuff around there, they got some pla yground equipment. And I think that center deserves the same attention as the other areas across 13 th Street, you know. B: Well how do you feel that you feel about having that named in your honor. W: Oh real fine, someone just asked me about that just yes terday, they was looking through the phonebook for something, and they was just asking me about that yesterday. B: And so are you very honored to have it in your name. W: Also it's in talking with several persons about Rosa Williams, everybody know Rosa W illiams. They said that you've been very helpful to get a lot of people elected to office, from the President of the United States, President Carter to Bob Graham's election. Give us the name of a few of those people that you have been very instrumental in working on their elections and help them become elected. W: Um, Jimmy Carter, Bob Graham, and around here in town, Levita Brown, Charles Chestnut, Kate Burn, Neil Butler, the first one. B: He was the first black? W: That was the first hard election that I worked in. B: Really?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 26 W: Uh huh, mm hm. B: Why was it so difficult? W: Well no, what I meant, I said that was the first time I put so much effort into an election, yeah. B: Oh really? Okay. Did you ever work on Sid Martin's? W: Oh yeah, Sid yeah. All of his. B: Sid Martin? John Mills? W: John Mills, yeah. My mind goes blank when it comes to things, I wipe it out of my head. B: Because you've done so much? W: Mm hm. B: Well when you work on these campaigns, what do you really do for them? W: I just go door to door and get other peoples to go knock on doors or pass out literature or put stuff in beauty shops and barber shops and encourage them to go vote for them. B: I see. Do these persons running for office before they decide, do they come by and get your opinion? W: Well they talk to me, but you know, I don't like to just try to make up nobody's mind, you know, I listen, and if I feellike I can support them, I tell them Yeah, I support them But if just like Chuck Clemons came up to me Sunday at the Ebony uhat the Ebony Appreciation Banquet, Ed Junior brought him over there, and I just told him, you know, I said I'm sorry, but
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 27 I'm going to support Margaret Eppes you know, I want him to know this so he wouldn't be wasting my time or his time. B: So you'r e just up front with certain people. W: Mm hm. B: And now how do you make your decision on who you're going to support? Is it because of what they've done or what you feel about them? W: It's because of what they have done and I think the main reason why come they wanted to get somebody was I think to run against Margaret, I think was her stance on this gay and lesbian issue, which to me there was no issue because I don't think they were discriminated against, but I think everybody have their rights to vot e and choose who they want to do, you know. And I don't think people should criticize somebody who stand for what they think on different issues. B: I see. Is there anybody that you've supported that has lost? W: Oh yeah, lots of them. One time, we weren't winning none at all. B: Really? W: Mm hm. B: I see, now are you ever paid for this kind of effort you do? W: No. Now I get money from the candidates to get these young these kids who go door to door. But I'm never paid. B: Also, this year I had the privi lege to attend your legislative barbeque at your home. What started that, and why is it held at your home?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 28 W: A long long time ago back, what is his name? He ran for C ommissioner of Education and he lost to some black guy, um B: A black individual? W: Ye ah, you know, he ran B: Was it Jameson? W: Yeah. Jameson and Bert and one more, and I can't think of his name now Al Lawson from Tallahassee. And I can't think of this other one's name. [Knock at door] Come in. [Interruption] W: What were we talking about ? B: Oh, recently the barbeque at your home for the legislators. W: Um, when they came here for one weekend for an FSU game, and I forgot which one it was that said something to me out there in the President's Box, said We all should have some real food so metime when we come down here. I said, Well, we'll have to think about that. I said, but you need more than one person to do it So we just started talking and making plans for the next two years when FSU came here again, you know, because they have the FS U and Florida game. B: And so its been held at your home? W: Mm hm. B: And are all of the state legislators invited? W: Mm hm. B: Including the president.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 29 W: Mm hm. B: How does Rosa Williams feel when she has the President of the University of Florida, St ate Senator Kirkpatrick, all the legislative body at your home for a barbeque? W: Well, it's just like any other time. I just like doing it you know for the peoples to have a representative for what come from out of town. B: Mm hm. Now do you do all of the work, or do you have someone W: No, we have lots of help. B: I see. W: Is a lots of people pulled in to pull that off. B: Is it sponsored by the Democratic Party? W: No. The University of Florida, Shands Hospital foot the bill for everything. B: I see Also, at one point, weren't you the president for the executive board for the Democratic Party? W: I was the chairman of the democrat club. B: And what was that role of that organization? W: That we didn't have to go by the same rules as the Democrat Ex ecutive Committee. We could endorse peoples or do whatever we wanted to do, you know, and we didn't have no prejudiced by laws of what we went by. We could go out actually in the community and do more things. B: I see. And did you think that was very helf ul then? W: Mm hm.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 30 B: Alright. What brought about your getting so much support from Chief of Police and the Sheriff's Department? W: I wouldn't say I get a lots of support from the Sheriff's Department, but Wayland [Chief Wayland Clifton, Jr.] has always b een very much B: And Wayland is the Chief of Police right now. W: Yeah supported a thing we're trying to do in the black community. A lots of things that we have accomplished in the black community and got programs set up out there in the black community. We would not have gotten it without the police department and the city commissions giving well on their "Ok, yes, we can do this." You know, because they put a lots of that confiscated money back out in the community, you know, through programs what we ha ve in the summertime, hiring kids with that money to go to work. So he has been very much supportive of programs and things what we're trying to do in the Black community. He's been willing to listen to whatever problems somebody may have with the police d epartment, he's been able to listen to that and sometimes when some minority policeman has gotten themselves in trouble, somebody had cooked up some [19:38] and listen willing to sit down with us and listen and you do your own investigating, don't just tak er somebody at his word. He was willing to do that. B: And so you said that he's been a very helpful person in the black community. W: He has, he has, he has, he has.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 31 B: Now were you very much involved when we had our first black chief of police Atkins War ren. W: Mm hm. B: I heard that you was on a selection committee for that, were you? W: I was. For Wayland and Atkins. B: Were you? Do you think that Atkins was helpful when he was here? W: He was helpful when he first came here, but he got caught up in the circle with a lots of people got caught up in. Here's Atkins sitting here, and here's about five or six captains or lieutenants or something sitting here, and the actual policemen on this road cannot get to Atkins because they got all of this other layer, and see that's the wrong thing what you can do is let other people start making your decisions. I'm sure that's probably what happened at the jailhouse, you know. And then you're not talking to the people down who are actually doing the work. You dealing with these people. And that was Atkins downfall, I think. B: I see. But do you think he was significant when he first came? W: Yeah. But he just, you know, when he left thought, he and I were still really good friends, but he just got himself surrounded by the wrong peoples and they didn't know what the other peoples was doing. B: Another question I need to ask you since you have so much information the question has been that Rosa has so much significance in the area, and I was told that at one point, Jimm y Carter visited your home for an affair is that true?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 32 W: Yes, uh huh. B: And you had people there for that affair. What do you think people think about having all of these people in your area to your home, or do you care? W: I don't care. B: Rosa does w hat Rosa wants, right? W: Yeah, I don't care. I take care of my own self, you know. You know the peoples living in the community most enjoy when I have these big affairs because they know they going to be able to come there and get some food, all that beer was left, I give it away to people in the neighborhood. I don't know who send back no full keg of beer. B: I see. Have you ever been offered a position to aid these persons in office. W: Yeah, mm hm. B: Why haven't you taken one? W: I was not interested in that kind of thing, I don't like politics. I don't like has to meet peoples. I don't like crowds of peoples. What I get through here talking with all of these peoples here and dealing with all of these employees here and doing my other community work, I don't want nothing where I has to be on 24 hours a day. B: I see. Can I get your opinion on who do you think we're going to have run for governor for this coming year? W: Ah B: Is it Buddy or Bob Graham?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 33 W: I hope its Bob, and I'm taking to go to the ba throom. [interruption] B: Now we're talking about the future of governorship in Florida, where do you stand on it? W: I don't think Buddy McKay can whoop Jeb Bush. And I'm sure if Buddy stayed the one who was going to run, Jeb Bush is going to run. Bob Gra ham is about the only person I think can whoop Jeb Bush. B: And I do know that you are a good friend of Buddy McKay's W: I love Buddy McKay and if he just decide to run I have to support him. B: You will have to support him. W: Mm hm. B: If he was to si t and ask you at the table like I'm talking right now, Rosa, what should I do? Would you tell him what you just told me? W: I would tell him. When he ran against Connie Mack I told him he didn't have no business doing that. At least we tried to beg him out of it. B: I see. W: And see, he understands that what has happened up in Tallahassee with Lawton has made peoples mad or something, all that will fall back on Buddy, and I just thing that I don't think Buddy can win. You know, he don't never carry Marion County, and you need all the votes that you can muster up. B: And Marion, isn't he from the Marion County area? W: Mm hm.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 34 B: Do you think the problem there is because he has been the second person for so long that he will never be the number one person? W : I don't know, you know, and I know that hurts him too, you know, from always being the second person. But I just, I don't think he can win, I just don't think he can win, but if he decides to run, my choice would be to support him. B: In all the persons you have helped win their elections, being very involved in distributing their material and walking door to door, have you ever gone to any of their inaugurations, like did you go to the inauguration for the governor? W: I went for Graham's. B: Did you? W : That's what I went, yeah. B: Did you enjoy that? W: Well yeah, and I went for I went for Lawton Chiles' also. B: Did you? W: But ah, we, ah, we went on our own when we went to Graham's, what I mean by on our own, only grown peoples went. But when we went to Lawton Chiles, we taken a whole busload of kids up there. B: Was that because of your effort? W: It was because of my effort to get seats for all of them out there where Lawton and them was going to be at.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 35 B: Excellent. So you were concerned about youn g people having a chance to see that. W: Mm hm. And I take them up for every Legislation Day we take some. B: Do you? W: Mm hm. B: And how do you get do you just get to say what you want to do and get people to support you? W: No, I ask Wayland if we can use the bus, and then ask them for the bus and ask them for one of the polices to drive, and those police officers be glad to go along with us to help chaperones so parents, so we at least we have more than what the big ol' bus would carry, and one of my B lack on Black crime task force account would pay for those young people's food. So then the next thing we do is ask the parents and the parents say yeah then Henry Langston, a police officer, would get one of GPD's permission slips and go to the schoolhous e and get the school to sign off so they can be excused for that, they get it as an educational day, and then we get their parent to sign it. B: Has Rosa Williams ever been married? W: A long time ago. B: A long time ago? W: Once, and once only. B: Would you do it again? W: No.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 36 B: Do you have any children? W: No, but I raised up my niece and my nephew. B: And their names? W: Ah, Jimmy, he's twenty seven, and Terry is twenty nine. B: And how are they doing now? W: Terry is up in Atlanta working for the Bl ack Women's Health Group, you know, they still doing stuff from when they went to [46:36 elapsed] Charter in last year and the year before that, in 1994 they went to Egypt. I think this year this summer, they're going to Paris or something. B: Oh, really? W: So she's enjoying what she's doing. Jimmy is here, he works here. He has a four years old girl, so cute, and that keeps his hands his feet to the fire. B: And does Rosa have any pets? W: I have four cockatiel birds. B: Four cockatiel birds. I know you want to talk about your birds. How are they doing? W: They doing fine. B: That's good. W: They was fighting when I left the house this morning. B: It is still a question, and we about bringing this to a close right now, is that you still live in the Fift h Avenue area, and of course, around the area, people talk about it being a ghetto and a lot of crime and so forth, why is Rosa still where she is?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 37 W: Because I love that. You know, this same question came up last night at the Porter's Community Center, af ter that meeting was over with, we were staying out front talking and everyone was talking about they are looking for another house, you know, I said but you just moved in the house you in now. And he said, well, they going to think about selling that one and buying another. And he said that group would build houses in Lincoln Estate you know I asked him if he would live in a house in Lincoln Estate, and he said, he said yes and no. And he went in to tell us why he said yes and no, so I said, Well, I like where I live at. I say and as long as no peoples out on the road somewhere and not interfering with my sleep at all, I say, I don't have nothing to do. I said, Now, if they were prying around my house, around my business like this guy on 5 th Avenue who the y run him off because they were running off all of his customers, I said, Now I wouldn't take that. So I guess I went around it this way: I like the area and I like the peoples there. It's center, it's easy to get anywhere you wants to go, it's right there in the center. And the area, now a long time ago, we used to have all kind of running around, people shooting, bam, bam, you know, and doing this that and the other, but the area is getting back to being more of an area what I used to know. You know [48:5 1 elapsed] is coming in, and I'm glad I choose to stay here, because I love to see the area being built back up. It only went so far out here. And I think it's being built back up. It's a nice area. You know, you said walking distance.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 38 B: Walking distance So you don't find it a problem, and so have you and you know, you hear about it being a problem with all of the drugs and the crime there, when yo u 've had these large gatherings at your home, have you ever had a problem? W: No, because when the governor or the lieutenant governor is even thinking about coming by there, the highway patrol come in that area probably about eleven o'clock in the daytime and then the cops come and the polices be out there, they're be clean as clean. I never had no harassment from any of them people. You know, they be glad to see all those polices out in there. B: Excellent. Also, have you had you've been very much an advocate against getting the drugs out of the community, and you've had several times with the polices in the area working on that, have you ever had anyone say anything to you about that? W: Mm nh. They respect me because they know where I stand at. You know, if they've got anything with me and my life or some senior citizen, I don't bother with them, I figure th at's the police job, but when they start to harassing other people, now that's a problem. B: I see. Rosa has been very involved for a long time, is she beginning to think about retiring? W: No, well I was 62 years old in September, Social Security sent me a letter telling me I could retire, but it was an encouragement to work on. And I said it doen't have to encourage me to work on because I can't stay home.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 39 I can stay home for about two days, but in that house, I have to get out. If I won't be out doing so mething, I might as well et paid for some of it. And my job here is not hard. You know, I have three secretaries around here, and the secretary knows that I work some in the nighttime, I work about every Saturday or Sunday, so I don't have to be here at ei ght o'clock when the office open up. Because you don't see me walking out at five o'clock with my pocketbook in my hand like a lots of peoples do, you know. And so he just let me really set my own schedule and things like this. B: That's good, do you think he's doing it because you're Rosa B. Williams or because you do a good job ? W: No, he's doing it because I do a good job, see, I deal with volunteers, and you have to work around those student's classes, you had to work around those people's other jobs, so you can't just say, Well I'm here from 8 to 5 and I ain't gonna be here no more. You know, I have to have a lot of support after 5 and on Saturdays and Sundays. B: There are ah, I've had people question if Rosa Williams plan run for a state office. W: N o. Nuh uh. B: You don't plan to? W: Nuh uh. B: Why? W: I would not, I would never, I'm not into that. B: You just want to get the support.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 40 W: Mm hm. And go on to another project. B: I see. Is there any other project you would like to see started that you h aven't started yet? W: No. Because I've got to finish trying to help some of these young peoples, you know, get their act back together. B: And do you think that you are being helpful with them? W: Mm hm. B: You do? W: Yeah. B: If you had to leave, give e ncouragement or a word or statement to someone that represents Rosa Williams, what would you say? W: If it was to a young person, I would tell themn that they need to stay in school, get an education up to high school, and if they was not college material or could not get some kind of vocational training, to get their feet set down in some concrete somewhere, you know, and be able to look up, be independent, and just do right in the world and grab a hold to whatever you want and just do it. Don't let no one tell you you can't do something, and you can't do [52:48 elapsed]. B: And what would you tell an older person? W: I would tell an older person you know, at first I would thank them for even being here in that role and trying to find out from them just wh at had they did to keep themselves here this long, to stay in good health and any kind of advice what they could give me or whatever.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 41 B: I see, thank you I've enjoyed this. Is there anything we haven't talked about that you want to talk about? W: Nt uh. B : Well if I find that there are some questions I haven't asked that is important about Rosa Williams, I will ask those questions, because I think at this point, we need to make sure that we have everything covered that you are involved in since so much. W: Okay, yeah. Because I can't even think of it's three or four things I missed, and I can't find my folder. B: Well are you in any social clubs? W: No, I used to belong to social clubs, but I don't have the time to just do things just because they social. I just can't do that anymore. I'm way past that. I'm trying to get everything what I need to get to. B: Well Rosa, I've enjoyed talking to you this morning. W: Okay, I don't know where that folder is. B: Well at some point if you could find it, that would be very helpful to find out the different things Rosa Williams has been involved in. W: All I see is income tax papers. B: Oh really? W: And I know you don't want that. But I'll find it one day and give it to you. B: Alright. Thank you. W: Okay, um, John was supposed to have came by here this morning. B: John who?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 42 W: Ah, Sid Martin's son John. B: Oh, really? W: Mm hm. B: That's another thing, how close were you to Sid? W: Real close. B: Well what did that mean? W: Huh? B: What does that mean? W: That mea ns we call each other every night. B: Didi you? W: Mm hm, we call each other every night except the night [54:51 elapsed] died, and I was at the school board picketing that night. B: Were you? W: Mm hm. B: Well Rosa, let me ask you, how did you meet Sid? W: When we first campaigned for the county commission seat a long time ago. B: Oh, that far back? W: Mm hm. B: Well were you helping with him in his election? W: Um, helping, you mean B: Helping him get elected.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 43 W: Oh, yes, uh huh. Mm hm. Okay, the Gaine sville Police Advisory Board, I'm looking here, now I've got to get them all typed up. And I said the EPS. The Sickle Cell Organization. B: Sickle Cell Anemia? W: Mm hm. B: Well have there ever been any scholarships given in your honor, in your name? W: S hands just did one. B: Explain that to me. W: Let me show it to you. B: Alright. W: If I have it here. I have a mostly clean house because all the [56:04] wasn't doing nothing but just talk. That will be out pretty soon. B: Rosa has handed me a brochure th at says that Shands teaching hospital and clinic, the Rosa B. Williams Scholarship. Explain that to me, Rosa. W: Its about $100,000 scholarship that's going to be used for anybody that's going into school or any of the medical fields. B: Really? W: A healt h related field. B: And when was this established? W: Um, they just told me about it about two weeks ago. B: Oh, was this a surprise? W: Mm hm.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 44 B: Well excellent, so there's a $100,000 scholarship, and it's the Rosa B. Williams Scholarship. W: Mm hm. B: We ll how do you feel about that? W: Oh, real fine. B: Well you should be very honored. W: Yeah, real fine. B: Well this is a surprise I heard they were going to tell you about. Well let me ask you, how far did Rosa go in school? W: I finished high school. B: Do you feel that you would like to have gone to college? W: I have a two year college degree. B: Two year? W: Yes, I went to Santa Fe Community College right after momma died. B: And at this point, would you want to go farther? W: No. B: You wouldn't? W: Mm mm. I'll let somebody else younger do that. I'm more interested in getting these younger peoples in the schools. If things keep going like it's going, by the time five or six more years we're not going to have any young black males. B: You don't think so?
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 45 W: Well what I'm saying is we're not going to have any because most of them is out on the streets doing drugs. Yeah, we'll have some, but B: The majority. W: Yeah. And they starts out at an early age now. B: Well I'm very very honored to know that you have a scholarship in your name, and at this point, who do you think is going to be the first one to get it? W: I don't know. They all is medical, someone going to the health related field. And so I don't know, I hope it be some black person. B: Is there anything else that you would like to have, you have a building named in your honor, there's a scholarship in your honor, what about the Rosa B. Williams Street? W: No, [laughter]. B: You don't want that? W: No. B: I see. W: I was trying to, but most of th ese names on here is formal. I'm going to have to get someone to type this up. You know, I used to be on it, but B: But at some point we need to find out the different organizations you have worked with, the different things you've done. To collect it, an d put them somewhere, hopefully in your building, that people will know what Rosa B. Williams has done. W: That's a whole bunch of them.
FAB 060; Williams ; Page 46 B: Well thank you, I've enjoyed being here today. Have a good day. [interruption] B: As a member of the board of direc tors for Shand's Hospital, they were discussing at some point putting a clinic in the southeast part of Gainesville, is that still going to take place? W: Yes, aha. The southeast and the northeast. B: The southeast and the northeast. W: Yeah, right now, I think it's going to be a bit right past the Iron Horse in the northeast section. B: And is this being done through the support of Rosa B. Williams or one of Rosa William's ideas? W: No, it was idea of Warren Ross had and he talked with me about it and I th ought it was a great i dea, so Warren and a committee [End of interview]
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