Interview with Earnest Barkley

Material Information

Interview with Earnest Barkley
Series Title:
Earnest Barkley
Barkley, Earnest ( Interviewee )


Subjects / Keywords:
Joel Buchanan Archive of African American Oral History ( local )
Oral histories ( lcgft )

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Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license:


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I: Send you a copy, maybe a year or so, fer-we wol-d havc to transcribe all the

tapes. There's quite a few tapes we'd have to go through. We'll send you a copy,

you can edit it, change it, or decide not to release it altogether which is your
pre rogaf/ve
peroega-te. Um, if you do decide to release, it simply goes into the Oral
History collection at the University of Florida in Gainesville. That's all. it's

used fewi by scholars, students _c f/r __ But again, you'll

receive a transcript of this and if you-decide not to uh make it part of the

library : ( that's up to you. Page is working

with me and uh, do you want to conduct the interview Page or do you want me to?

P: You go ahead.

I: Okay, I'll start it. We have a few questions first to find out how well the

VotingVAct of 1965 has helped blacks in terms of taking part in Florida politics.

We just have a few general questions first to ask you. Um, now I guess we should

get your name on the tape. It's Earnest Bartley, former Mayor of G& ei W A

From what years?

B: Well that was 71 through '74.

I: Okay, Here's a mike.


I: Okay, I thought we forgot the mike. '71 through '74?
B: Right.

I: Thank you. What year did you first register to vote?

B: Well uh, when I was twenty-one. I registered to vote at that time. YOu know they

uh they hadn't had the uh eClec/ Act. r / l en I was

in the service when -4e / tc came. After I returned from the

service T rei'r k p and uh

I: Yeah.

B: Well, at the time, maybe you know for the

FB 86A

B: registration. At the time I came out of the service, we didn't have any blacks
in the
I: What year was that?

B: This was in uh '69 when I came out of the service, '69.

I: Excuse me, could you could you move up closer so we don't pick up hopefully as
much of the air conditioner?
B: So uh, you joined your uh, we had a local a local organization, several local
organizations, the NAACP, And the -NC-, and we started a mass registration drive.
To get some blacks on, So it was just ibhb :y random we picked this

area here to start working on) .. GIf_- .. j' /-

muniipality here in the county.

I: HOw was Gretna picked? Why Gretna rather than say Quincy or other little . .

B: Well uh we just wanted to start at the small, get the small first and then work up
through the dense populated municipalities. So we started at Gretna, well we had

someone working in do t/ e~ere -ait Quincy but we wanted to start in
Gretna \w r' A,, i C 0 r L- ./ There wasn't

no special reason, we just picked it at random so uh, so uh Gretna. By surprise

that we found out there wasn't any, they was under the impression that if they \(rre,
registered in the county, that they could be able to vote. You see this wasn't

so. At the time, we found out later of course, of course through the civil, civil

rights IoJ .d\ things The was working with the
NAACP at the time. He's in uh training in Tallahassee, a civil rights attorney.
Found out, through putting pressure on the supervisor of elections to let us see

the books. And they finally did, and found out that there wasn't any idea. And how

it was, they were going by electing the officials in Gretna, well they mail them

a little card, a postcard saying uh we're going to elect the officials on such
and such a date, and these are the officials for office. And uh you could check

Page 2

FB 86A

B: anything you want, but it wouldn't go if you weren't a registered voter, and they

didn't vote. Luko o4 t)qcK- Wc sc-coc for a long time

but this is what they were doing, they were electing the official that they thought

they were picking but it wasn't so because it wasn't on the book. Then they had

to put the book out.

I: So, so they were voting, the blacks were voting but . .

B: They thought they was voting, but votes weren't counted (talking together)

so they couldn't count it because it wasn't on the book. I think at the time

there wasn't but 25 people on the book, and that was 25 whites.

I: But blacks were voting for black candidates?

B: No, it wasn't. .

I: There were no black . .

B: They were voting for the whites. There wasn't any black candidates beside, before

the year that I decided to run, I was the only black, no blacks had ever been

in the office, but this black. .

I: But this changed in 1969, I think you were saying when . .

B: Well in the election of 1970 it changed cause I went in office in '71 you see, so

it changed through '69. We got it in October so we started a mass drive in '70.

I: Um hum. This is through the NAACP and . .

B: NAACP and the NGLC-
I: NeCe-?

B: Right.

I: Okay. Um, were you ever turned down when you applied to register to vote here

in Gretna?

B: No, because uh onereason, after the pressure was on when we uh decided to uh

register, they had to open the book through uh the lawyers had gotten that

straight. They would open the book, I think it was uh four weeks or something,

I'm not sure, two weeks before the election. But you had to be registered with

the county in order to register with the town. So we made sure everybody

Page 3

FB?^ "6 Pa^e 4 0, /
B; everybody registered with the county in order to -eeeme e
./y / started and they didn't turn anyone down if they had cards to uh

show that they had registered with the uh county.

I: You registered for the county ef-Quincy?

B:- Right.

I: Then you had to register here?

B: Right here. In order to be able o0 vV'O

I: Okay. Once they straightened it out, no one was turned down?
nof roit \<.e?. zs rntj jo-
B: No, .Ae-h@4e. WE11 I heard some say they were because of the mixup or something

but, you know I never, they finally got that straight. Ttf IV a re/-k .f/

maybe they thought they were outside htrh municipAlitW ai d-couldn't find exactly

where heswas on the b+edry, and t~-couple 5

turned down. J

I: You mentioned there had beenihnr idr registration drives uh in this area, again

I guess you're saying the period of 1969-1970 through the NAACP and the -

Is that right?

B: Right.

I: Were there any other voter registration drives, uh even going back to say the

early sixties that you know of?

B: No, not that I know of, there hasn't been any.

I: Du.ig- the sort of civil rights movement of the early and mid sixties, were there

any drives during that period that you remember?

B: No, not no mass drives.

I: Were you in Gretna during that period?

B: Yes, I was in Gretna. Well I've been mostly .tAraised in Gretna, 7 i

-when -e came over here, and I've been here by the time I was in 't4 college and in

the service.

I: Okay. Um you felt the drives though in '69-'70 were fairly successful?

B: Oh yes.

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Page 4

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I: Getting blacks registered and getting the votes to come.
B: Yeah, um hum right.
I: Are there any things today which prevent the blacks from registering to vote
het't V\
-near Gretna?
B: No, there isn't anything that I can see Pfv /, I A /rr\
registering to vote. No reason, they're not uh, the only reason that would
prevent them from registering here is if they haven't registered in the county.
I: OKay, so they would have to go down and register in the county first?
B: Right, in order to register, right.
I: Do you know of any problem they, they would confront if they went to register
in Quincyl 4 ov.
B: No, I, I don't see a problem ~At 7W, /c, #A;n, /o ) They wouldn't,
but you know everything he4 been on the pressure that it has been, I don't think
they 44-4, you know, just really just ah turn the blacks down,/Ivu ~c, eat
i/r' tf r-th ,- w, o/f- ro / u know, other county, they'll turn him down

from, gistering, /1'f- ok tS
I: Okay, we have a list of a few um items which in the past and in other areas
actually even today have uh prevented blacks from registering to vote. And
if we could, we'd like you to sort of evaluate the importance of these items
in Gretna today. Um, check whether you think the item is very important, fairly
important or not important at all in terms of preventing blacks from registering
and voting in this area. First would be economic dependence on whitesN Do you think
that has an influence on everybody's lives?
B: Let's uh, let's date it first. X .c. ~(u lu r ;ry h ri election
l^" t'.T' A..-'- !,, .. Mr Ap,9?.J,
I: Okay, so that was say'1970?
B: '70 yes. During the middle of- '7-0 '- h occurred.
I: In what sense was that a factor?

Page 5

FB 86A r -Ar r, Page 6
B: Well, in the uh field-uh-, eky-kh f-e+4-, number two here,-.-f e t ,
from white_, g/ /S _____ big farmland uh well fy / v ~ 5 ,40/C i,,A
ct0had, '- ha uha lots of people on the farm. The farm was still
kind of uh had a strong hold on people, and most of the people, living on the
l ,t. P- e /?, Vt
farm.before tobacco kind of 0- ea~tf f -a-F-t kIe
Pause in tape r?
B: Okay, now uh what you were saying about the i4e44, number two here C

from white;. /B o^ ._ __// -
4*ka--imost of the blacks at the time were staying on theuh farm 4a-l- -Bttt-
thee were It's of themthat-were just kind of easing of that +-4ad. And it was
rf r-/ /'C 01144O They didn't vote for him, you know put off their
house, out of their houses and things. The election, the first election was
e4oGe4-because of -t-and uh this happened not only here, this happened in other
areas, i+4aam Greehburg. MOst of this know this area ^a ,-,// M
tobacco area for farming. ",/ f, CiO // '1/f" There was fear
from the white on the farm. They had a farm. Lot's of blacks, well they
didn't have anywhere else to go. was low and uh no other means
of making a living or simply staying in the houses because there wasn't any
other houses but the farmhouse that they had -to-s-ay in so they feared that they'
Yf4, v f a J, I aeVyt6 (t J
would campaign or actually do anything --itr they wanted to. They also Qade-a

S-t___________ y w R eg-4~ e-i4g1 the farmer was
bringing them down on his truck or had one of the hands to bring it down, voters
on his truck to vote for him and they'd all say they were going to vote for him.
" #4lA htheyacome upe~H you know seven families
they put him out of the house because he didn't win the election. But they all
told him they voted for him, but they were afraid to tell them they wasn't. Be-
cause of -rc r" _it wasn't on his farm it was on his friends
farm so by the same token they had you know, you know bet -very reluctant of

saying who they were going to vote for, you know who they support uh. r\ (,

FB 86A

B: were afraid to sign the petition qualifying you to get ten percent of the
registered voters in order to run for the office that you,are running for and
/Is5 0f f0 0 n /AIll vote for you but
I don't want to put my name down theTe cause they got to be turned into the
office. And uh I'__ ___(_ ~e C K L //4tj but now I think 41' /0 /A ea/s
I: YOu said the election was closed, the first election in 1970.
B: Oh yes it was -e+se4,
I: Who closed that?
B: No, I said it was real close, you know ( talking together)
And uh because of that the second and third didn't IP'" -~P Rk" i.
The second and third'uth-almost doubled, well uh I beat them two to one.
I: Uh huh this was the white candidate?
B: Yeah, white. And the third uh, well I had two white opponents for the second
election. One of them a former councilman and the former Mayor. And I defeated
them, well I had about twice as many votes as Ac/ i ? p4/ f '9"her'
The third time I almost did the same thing.
I: Do you know of-any blacks who lost their jobs because of voting say for you or
other black candidates at first?
B: Well uh, now you could, maybe you would say uh they way they uh diJ '
>, i i A
'; i / f 4 power ycu 1d t N/ '(c'$ power in order to uh

get him off his farm rather than say you know fine you because voted, didn't
vote for me. They said they just didn't need them no more.
I; So they just let them go?
B: They let them go. T_7 y trL Pa ;i1r /Y L/k ? U / ) ?
I: Because he knew they voted
B: Yeah, yeah, Well they feel that all the farm hands had +e vote for him, it
would have turned the other way you see, he had to most of the OPl~ /
:'. ,,)Ov_ .I In the last year or two there have been um several
private private homes put up 4 inoJ i ( Lt i e re5$ S o most people

Page 7

FB 86A

B: getting off the farms and you know f l-..L ,, 0lT : ,'i There's
SFHA now you know .-v i\ < f J i l, Well the
tobacco's gone so they have to find some other job so this you know scc_.; ,rc l{

I: So some of the white farm owners have left, is that what you are saying?

B: No, well they haven't left, they just, they're not farming in tobacco you know,
they maybe grow a little vegetables or something, uh they got cows like
cows eeffme up here, and this farmer man he's in with the cow
company now and uh he's just got cows on his farm. See most of this land around
here belongs to his father and his father died t4i b /1 6fV
'. i/s 9 / /" /t 4"'' / L 'C They don't need the farm
hand. Most of these houses, they've torn them down or got em out for uh rent.
I: Most of these homes are rented by . .
B: Well uh, most of your, it's a couple of, see the houses around here, these uh
fAame houses, wood houses, mostly around here, are mostly torn down ff'(,YOV.t Ad
'1t *' c u-btwt I think the Health Department is really pushing about
getting-eon either side-o-f Y et h-f cII 1rI '/ C( d V /) YUv t
.ge-e to tear em down you know, if the house is standing, they're pushing an
ordinance you have to put inside plumbing in, and rather than do that they've
just torn them down and then trying to sell them to some of the people; some
of the farm hands, you either buy it or rent it, so some of them's renting
it. Most of the blOck's homes you see around uh some of the / Ubtl )

0f private houses, these are private houses
so most of the houses have disappeared around t" T' 1 r ____
I: Um so you felt that economic dependence on whites and fear of
violence were issues that were very important?
B: Very strongly.
I: How about complicated registration forms? Has that been a factor at all in terms

Page 8

FB 86A Page 9

I; of preventing blacks from registering?
B: Well uh, I could say maybe fairly important because and then 7fo tIv< // .r
6 s5 C ''5 Y 41 Pe- t le ed
e ele-P LOt's of peeffa+didn't understand the form, they had-yotr-know $the.educatir.-enwagh
to-4h in order to vote. -Back-when they first brought the \ ( I 5, with

the voting machine we had to tell them because lots of times they didn't know
who they, they know who they wanted to vote for butin order, they didn't know
how to read or what was on the uh form. It was easy to make a mistake or check
some other re gCrt cf//, and uh mostl-
of the voting in the precinct / // Vff e / //- //---------
and through a survey they say they want to vote for this person but they didn't

vote, they didn't feel like it, maybe because um the way the voting turnout
V-114 t k i f 1 -4 F -, 5 !
that they must have had to vote for someone else. -eu- feel that L/ -- o
Syou check here and okay check there. fi t pIrfto
T7t b'c1{- +P/( hAi^ w/I >e
like kin-of who you had in mind voting for.
I: Yea
B: Now this is this has uh what-f-hrtryfing LU -sl-h~re--__
I: So whites were there to help but many times ,. "' '' ., they
B: Misled the other way. you know he could go either way and this is what they felt
you know and this is why I said
and I guess if he had a candidate he wanted to vote for he found a person who
couldn't read or write, tell him C0 O e r- 7' "--- and he would
never know so
I: Okay, so you thought that was -
B: Ve :k ^- :
I: How about,-what-were registration hours?
B: Well AI4S CAt 7" because uh Mr.
the supervisor of elections, he had just you know certain hours that he was on
the books and most people working, say well you know blacks had to work, get off

Page 10

B: was on the farms, when they get off from work they couldn't go up there and

register so they had no way of uh voting, and in this uh movement I'm telling
you about, this civil rights movement they got the books being held open until

seven o'clock at night. You know they would be open from seven in the morning

till seven at night, and a half day on Saturdays. So this got a lots of people
that they, as a matter of fact it helped a lots of whites too because they had

lots of you know middle class tipoor whites that wasn't able to meet those

hours, you know, a couple of hours you know to go over there and register and
yu ad so they esJld, / 5 PR. /e / A 7/, 5 important

to that they have the books open some of those hours, maybe seven to seven

and then a half a day on Saturdays, so they started doing that.

I: Okay

B: Now this really ,/,;n r/C-A '

I: So that used to be uh r guess it was fairly important but it isn't any longer.

B: No.

I: Um number five is re re um excuse me registration not held often enough or sort
of the effects of reregistration, that is if you don't vote every two years you

are taken off the roles. Does that affect uh . .

B: Well uh I guess it may be a fair for, for the small municipalities, but I know

here. Now in the county, I think you know any time you want to register and

you go to register they open because there's a full time election supervisor, and
all you can do is just go in there and register, you know if you're not running
close to a time during the elections. Get down there on the days when some

people A 0 ?IT4 register. You can register in the county, but you

can't reregister in the municipality t4e&s a certain time. The regulation

here I think is two weeks before the uh, two weeks before the uh, the books

close two weeks before the election here and so the books have to be open for
j as held
two weeks, *V .\; 5 'A "'" four weeks before the election and that's
the only time you can register in the uh municipality, this one I know. NNw in

FB 86A

Page 11

B: the county you already registered but here you can't any time. You only can

register about four weeks before the election, if you haven't registered or ydV

need to reregister. So uh...

I: Have many blacks been wiped off the role because they haven't voted uh in like

two years?

B: Well last election year there was uh several that I know of. They came to uh

vote and they found out that their name had uh had been pulled off the list, *ankd

I think that was uh you know I think it was an oversight of some of the blacks

because they did have it out of the paper, theparty need to register. They're

not uh registered voter Po0 _in the post office c- co(.,(< -C eeks
-^J~.~ +It;, 1/ 4 1 Wi
and I saw that in the last election, for the last election because /'
And uh those individuals should have saw it on the paper somewhere and went in

uh and tried to reregister Or see what the
problem was.

I: Okay Um finallyindifference of blacks to voting. Is that still a problem in

terms of preventing blacks from registering and voting? General indifference

to voting?

B: No, no I don't see you know here that that's a problem, poses a big problem kencL

I: So it's no longer important?

B: No longer important.

I: Okay. Um the next section, that's fine. Or did you want to check those in terms

of whether you said that was

B: Icts n n.

I: Okay, Thanks Next question, we have a few uh items we'd like to ask you in terms

of information on your election campaigns. First of all, were you able to

campaign freely, that is were you threatened in any way? Especially when you

first ran in 1970.

B: Well uh when I first ran uh well I got uh lots of uh

FB 86A

Page 12

B: because lot's of rhblacks thought it would be uh maybe some problem. Because
they uh came to me, several of them did. As a matter of fact, one of them

come to me at the time and said you're running for councilman, and I told him

I should run because I would upset things iffrun for office because it would

uh maybe start a little racial problems if I run trying to take the, running
for the Mayor would be taking the 'b4- man job. You know at that time yeu

ere the big farmer here _____, and they felt that uh
maybe I shouldn't run, and uh some of them were telling me. But really for
the um physical threat to my face, I didn't get it but you know I had a feeling

it was there. I Kb 4{-cLeG something might happen

if you run. You going to Be ardheaded and run, something might happen but
I tv V E / r' of-wht--ever happened,
I: Um hum

B: There were several people telling me that uh some of the whites had come up
to them and asked themsee if they could)change my mind. And I shouldn't

run. This was conscious throughout the uh campaign period before the election
that I shouldn't run.
I: Okay, but no open uh . .

B: No, no open / 4 r- f _____ was ever taken.
I: Okay. Were you handicapped by a lack of campaign money at all?
B: No, I don't think I was, maybe it could have been. I could have put a better
campaign if I'd have had you know, the funds but uk-you-see, i+-wa-in a small
area, at9 it really hurt. A a( if T on~fV ----- I'/ LO/1 a 1 r~ /
I: How much did you spend, do you know approximately?

B: Well I figure, plus a lots of kids worked uh high school kids, they would
work for me and some of the students at the Florida A and M. So I

spent 100 dollars.
I: 100 dollars?

FB 86A

Page 13

B: Yea about 100 dollars.

I: That was your own money?

B: Own money, yes.

I: Why did you decide to run for office?

B: Well uh, it's a funny thing -. W/ /J/1 h a( a'' o u 4i// /u I ,

The reason I was running for office wasn't that I felt that I uh felt that I was

going to win at that time because here I am in mathematics and electronics, I had

nop u~e to getting into, no desire to get into, /27 rk'~ i by> A, y,9< kO u
holding office. You know maybe everyday life didn't concern this but as far as

holding office I had no, no intention of doing it, But the people that we was

trying to get to run for it, being a member of one of the civil rights, why uh
Mv both of the civil rights movements, the NCeL and the NAACP. At the time I was
the president of the Dr~N -, the first one that they organized in ( s c, _

county. And I felt that if I could uh run and show a man that I would run, that '

I, we would have better bargaining power with the uh white officeholders, than 4f-

-o5 by showing them that we were satisfied. Whatever you do you don't have to

listen to us uh we're completely satisfied. We wanted them to know that there

was always somebody that felt like they could run and maybe do a better job, or

as well a job as he was doing. So this was the point that I was trying to get

over and kSL /o D trying to make the

clerk and the counselor run at that time. They needed a little boost and I

figured that if I put my name on the list that I'm going to run for the top

dog you know that they wouldn't mind going ahead and putting all the effort out

going for the -ei&se4er and the clerk, city clerk. So I, I think it payed off. .

I: Excuse me, did blacks run before you ran?
B: No, no. No blacks had ever run.

I: You were the first?

B: The first. And uh during my election was two black councilmen and a clerk,

FB 86A

B: city clerk, running 4-4lfr the same year also. But I, they needed that uh
momentum I guess to show them uh you know I would go ahead tcg, right-+p-n-he

-city-l+iie, pushing the voters registration drive out here. And I wouldn't put

my name in the hat, in the ring to run so uh I'm going to run for this you

know, come on let's go. I actually felt the first time that I wouldn't win.

As the campaign went on, I said well you know if I lose this year I'll be back

next year. So I really want to go out and start it, I got into it, Well I'm

going to go ahead and try itnext year, the next election I'm going to win. But

this election I just wanted to show them leadership. I know I"m going to um

lose, but I want people to know that I uh I want to run. I also felt that I

hadn't had enough experience, I hadn't been around. This was what some of the

blacks were saying at that time. You know, maybe you shouldn't run, think about

it a year or two. Why don't you talkone of the councilmen out, and you take

one of the councilman's places and run for a councilman instead. Now this

______ then go for the mayor the following election.
I: Um huh.' You know, after you stay in there a year from a councilman and

then run for the mayor but uh

I: But you ran for the mayor?

B: I ran for the mayor, and of course I won.
I: Which, which political party organization did you belong to?

B: Democrat.

I: Democrat. Did you ever receive any help from the Democrati'party, here locally

or county wide when you ran?

B: No, no

I: What were the two or three most important issues when you campaigned?

B: The most uh, two important issues was that I wanted uh better streets and lights

for the uh black-women There wasn't any lights in the area. All the lights,

the street wae-on-the pavig~ *qs ,- / q<
t-r Al c s /ifb < // K. f d WC' /- C 9 5

FB 86A

Page 14

Page 15

B: Back here it was total dark and .

I: No lights?

B: Yes, there was no streets, there wasn't any uh paved streets and the street

was uh, it wasn't even good to ride on, you know good dirt streets. It really

was rough. And I found out the county had money and the state had money for

this. This is what I pushed -9t For. these to help us

out and I pushed that.

I: Were there any other major issues, lighting and street?

B: Lighting, streets and then uh sewer system., which I was fryi:r fo e'1Pe
&J, f-Lt Is
sewer system. -+-s-money, i-ls- money was supposed to be released now and they

had already got it appropriated last year, and we hadn't got it yet for the

sewer system

(Pause in tape)

I: Okay, welwere talking about what the major issues were when you ran. And you'd

been talking I think about sewage, water and sewage.

B: Right.

I: Did you feel that these were the major issues confronting um the blacks, the

blacks in Gretna?

B: 4 rtpi yi/rtyeC

I: Weld like to ask you uh also a few questions about um some of um sort of the

election results when you ran. First of all you were elected um at large,

that is by the whole city . .

B: Right.

I: of Gretna. How many people are in the city of Gretna.

B: Well at that time it was about uh 983 Ft /4 4 '"" about 983, that's about the


I: 983?

B: 983. And it should be about 11 or 12 now. We are planning the extension

; IS & or / VI /it hCe t in the process. We got to have a


FB 86A

FB 86A

B: couple hearings on it to It would almost double the citizenship to
about 15, 16 which would be half, you know we should pick up 6-17 people through
extension of the uh 6, -(,/K of territory.
I: Oh, annexation?
B: Annexation, yes, we already now we have an area called the project area. Now-i-
came on as Mayor we were already replenishing water to that area and so they, said
they was in Gretna but theys not just et /Je Ie ,
I: Why are you trying to annex UL 5 W,0 61," 0.. _t A1 ?
B: We felt like the annexation would bring more revenue in, so we need this c~G74
revenue. Really we almost run on that revenue that we collect from h t
federal government and the state for #B _IL sources of
money so small that we totally depend on the state and the
for our operation.
I: So today you said there were about 983 citizens?
B: Ylt/ / Ctfi /- ;/,kr J r'\ ',l < I think that It #;,/c/ iC
I haven't been checking, but I think it should be close to about 10-something
-or 1/ ';/, at this time now. TX 7 L i/r / I money-
based on the-fed Mat4, with population of about 10-something over the

money. That's close enough ;there.
I: What percentage of the population in Gretna is black?
B: I think about 80 percent of the population is black.
I: What percentage of the blacks of voting age in Gretna are registered to vote here?
B: Well I think it should be about 90 percent, and just maybe about 10 who hasn't.
I: Most of this took place between 1969 and What percent were
registered do you remember as of say 1969?
B: In Gretna there V 54 / 2/fty # / /7 )t, no blacks on the book
-ppewar,-yeu-~uthdt-t have any.
I: Well what percent of the blacks were registered to vote, do you know in Gretna at
that time?

FB 86A

B: At the uh county or countywide?

I: County wide.

B: Countywide it was about "fort i( to I would say it was about

55 percent.

I: What percent of the blacks who were registering to vote do you think actually

voted when you were elected?
B: I felt that like out of uh- $Lp got about 85 percent.

I: Turnout?

B: Turnout.

I: Do you think you got any votes from whites in Gretna?

B: Well I would like to feel that I got, you know believe I got a few white votes.

I: A few?

B: Yes.

I: What percent do you think of your total vote came from whites?

B: It was very small, I felt some of the, some of the

and I saw so I would say about

I got about f Fh Tt percent.

I: Three percent?

How many opponents did you have when you ran ?

In the first election I had one.

One in the first.

former mayor.

How about the second time?

The second time I had two opponents.

And they were both white?

Both white.

You were elected then twice?

FB 86A

B: Well I was elected three times.
I: Oh three times, how about the third time?

B: Third time it was just one uh same you know the mayor,
I: Former ft r What percent of the total vote did you get in

each of those elections, do you remember? You said the first one was quite close.

B: Yes, I got about ,'-0 t votes, I got about, say about, I got about 60-, I
got about 60. .
I: 60 percent the first time?
B: That was the total votes.
I: What about the second?

B: The second, the second one about 70 to about percent of the vote.
Second time it was about 7 percent
and third time about 0 )trcetr i
I: Oh, okay, fine. The last major CUty/ ______deals with trying

to determine how well black officials in Florida have been able to benefit blacks.

In what ways do you think that you have helped blacks in your district by holding
B: Well, I think that in the long run I He' n of h black uh 4 e /
thinking that they could qualified they could get

they can do prepare yourself
if you're ready to do, and through my election because those first, my election
was the first until last year, as a matter of fact until this year \/X( ta 0 5 e on

municipality in the county that had black elected officials. There was Oany
O/et- '/ 4 officials in the county seats anywhere. 7TA o rf

0dp _, _ibj l- I don't know what he was J '/y' lv(

_. L other day spp'9set fYm office to fill
some vacancy or something. As far as voter elected officers we don't have any
blacks on the county election but we have a couple blacks

FB 86A

B: in the which is Quincy, they just got in this year '75

April due to the order, the court order that they change the district around,

around at large.

I: Quincy was now?

B: Yea they got representative in the district.

That's the only way they was, felt that they could where they

could be like Quincy and uh

I: So Quincy now has a black councilman?

B: We have two black city commissioners.

I: Commissioners?

B: Yes.

I: What percent black is Quincy?

B: Quincy is about it's close, about

it may be 50 or 51 something like that

I: So it's 50-50?

B: 0/M _____

I: But whites had always dominated!

B: Always dominated the

I: Okay, but now they have elections by district?

B: The district

I: Were there other ways in which you think holding office benefited blacks, say in

Gretna or in this area?

B: Yes I think I have benefited this area particularly __those well,

the black felt that they was, they couldn't come into the town

hall. They felt .As a matter of fact

into the city hall the mayor would just

actually ask them out. When we went in the first time we told A

that we had business to attend to and uh he rather for us to leave. This was like


FB 86A

B: holding a closed meeting, that we could not

attend the meeting, and he asked us out
want had the cops to come by

and picked us up for disturbing blocking the meeting.

No he didn't

When was this?

This was in went to the meeting

mass registration. We actually went twice, we was put out twice
we went twice stayed in the meeting

man asked us what was our complaint, and /o___
ateet the books you know lvnoiC to see the books

books out in time -to- b photogrphed then we had to go, but our lawyer, the civil

right lawyer went into it. on the board at the

time and he you know

just demonstrating something

and a couple-b-efore--us

and they just wanted to

they didn't

they wasn't

vote us so he ran us

we had to get out of

they just wanted to
out and the second uh meeting we went to we

They gave us time we had until

march around the fQo(r-1,/v

a couple of times. -----

saw I had an easy election, have the voting open at certain times
4 is
and then had to open th-s book. Then we found out

there wasn't any black at all. There was

white picked up some more, they picked up

some more blacks because they knew of 'em on, that'

the way voting was going at the time, anyway so there wasn't any white worrying

FB 86A

B: about how they should get on the they registered "new

in Gretna because they didn't, there wasn't no opponents or anything, just whoever

wanted it you know get it. Down at the courthouses talk to
p /s a ? y never did chase me out.

pLb A\ rc i' */le ,/PI- 7!i

any time

And some of them made remarks to the papers about

feel like that they

own here at the office, come in
>r, f- ti '
daytime a44, come in any-t--e.

where they just

Gretna now.

before they come around and talk

to the mayor,-t Etrl*-what you wanted,if you didn't 'cause I' h / iY

this was it.

I: Whatbif anything)prevented you from doing a better job in your field especially

in regard to benefiting blacks in Gretna?

B: well uh wasn't not a fu

time job as you have to, well I had to maintain

doing the I was teaching and I would come in i

the afternoon Saturdays and Sundays and at night


wake up

full job that I would like to, would like to

always gonna have that

And where vou gonna

from both sides, and uh

probably didn't do

two years.

But we had that had to wai

stay here and do things like I wanted to.

but I tried through thrc

as I taught, I was telling people how I wanted to you know

you know bring harmony /,KA (i kro n/i

feel that I was just a black mayor, and I was lec/j

know they elected me that I was the n

it, that

)ugh the paper, publishing

I didn't

of cOrse you

nayor of Gretna, and I



FB 86A 22

B: +et t-heLbhae Gretna any way I thought regardless of the color

whatever needed being done was duty you know

and I paid for their support to come and tell me anything that was wrong

They see that needed to be done, to come in and bring it to my
attention CJ ic i C b::,,., 4 /Y ,AS

try and take care of it, i--a44--hey tried to come. Anything

that you know they saw they

coming to develop, and they

felt that

had a fight. Gretna was

be a flop, you know and can't do this .

about when I took office

this was the rumor

six months, well the rumor v

manage Gretna


whites already

as because I couldn't

was dead and couldn't manage

I told you

that was the former mayor.

this was out that I was

by quitting uphold the law. This really was a problem

happen anything just came on out, no you know

End Side 1A

FB 86A

I: We have a checklist here of items which in some cases have prevented black officials

from doing a better job. Again we'd like to have you look at those and evaluate

those and check those in terms of whether you felt they were very important or

fairly important or not important at all in terms of preventing you from doing

a better job as mayor of Gretna. First of all was, the office has no real

authority, how did you feel about that?

B: OF the elected officials, they they have a AOn~er type government her in

Gretna, they do have authority.

I: So youfelt you really did have some authority, some power?

B: Yes, yes.

I: How about being outvoted by white officials. At first was the council primarily

black or white when you were first elected?

B: You know, we was outvoted by the whites, we had three white councilmen and two

black councilman so . .

I: So that was a problem at first?

B: That was a problem at first, the first year.

I: Okay, but since then that's no longer become a big factor?

B: No o c J)fr

I: How about not enough revenue available, you mentioned that. .
0.- yx e,3
B: Well uh for the first two, for the first two, for three there wasn't enough

revenue sharing because, well we started getting this, it wasn't big in Florida
before, we first started getting, when it first came out this federal revenue

sharing, you couldn't match this with anything, and all you could do was almost

get the money and almost just put it in the bank. So we was getting about, I

think it was $900 a quarter r /_7 Well uh what could I
do with guideline that they had had upon this that I couldn't match with any
other fund. This money had to be spent by us. I couldn't get any state revenue

and match it with this federal revenue. And all so all we could do was put it

in the bank. Finally ame out with another little, gave us a brochure on it al-

FB 86A

B: Ate-whe t you could spend itif, The money was actually ours -rt they told you what

you could spend it for, on this federal revenue sharing at first and then we bought

some recreation equipment but I couldn't . .

I: Rec. .

B: Recreation equipment.

I: Recreation?

B: Um hum, and you know started a little league team and bought their little stuff

with it. Had a girl little league and a boy little league team. Well that helped

us in that area.You know t___ Then we started getting a

little more state money, but I didn't have enough to put in what I wanted. Couldn't

get the uh well sewer, sewer plant because they didn't have the money, woud have

spent all that money trying to match, there wouldn't have been enough money to

match the state for them to get the sewer system, and I couldn't go through uh

HUD because the population at that time wasn't 'ey-l 0,000 and above, had to be

above 10,000 to get this HUD funding, had to go through FHA. As soon as we

qualified for FHA, FHA got out of the dirty water business call it,

they was afraid dirty water business because they said they

wasn't going into the sewer business, didn't want the sewer any more. And until

last year they went back HUD I think, through HUD from this water act, and they

went back into the sewer business again so now they approved the money for it.

I: So you did get an approval for a HUD water and sewege..

B: But through FHA.

I: Through FHA. s

B: Through FHA because HUD wouldn't take 10,000 till you change you know let-ye
&ckr- fhv' yrV
say-amhier drop down with the small nses+- community, smaller population. It

had to be '4-' 'l_4aa-f thing. And it wasn't feasable to go county-

wide with it because the county couldn't run.a-b-6 sewer plant wheve Quincy,run

the line from here all the way to Quincy, they had us-steedy on that and that

FB 86A

B: wasn't feasible, um so now they went on through Gretna for having a separate


I: Okay, so you feel now you are starting to get some revenue, but it has been a ..

B: It has been a, you know not enough revenue then has been a problem so uh

I: Think that was very important?

B: It was very important

I: Number four is unfamiliar with administrative duties, was that a real problem

for you at first, when you first became an elected official.

B: No, well there was more things that I needed, that I could have known but I think

it was fairly important to some of the smaller officeholders.

I: FAirly important?

B: Yes fairly important, some of them didn't know the uh duties, and I had to spend
a lot of time you know trying to explain to them, and it's really been a-f4tgt

you know maybe they needed classes that got some money from OEO to send them to

uh these government)
I: They did go to. . ? h I W .erd

B: omve oF9 t -wFhi4e- was, had it approved through the council

vote to send councilman clerk to k_ seminar the aided federal

seminar. This was a problem of getting a meeting and come and try to explain

different program and the new federalism program for rnoune4nt g there was you

know blacks speaking to walls or something, you see the facegof them, and this
hurt, it might take two-three hours trying to explain a certain phase of it and

trying to make some other,Atake care of the business as usual.? I5 e pr, oi/ so
135 fairly important. 'Id

I: But you felt you had some understanding of these things, and that ye-knrw . .

How about lack of cooperation from whites, was that a, how important was that

factor in terms of preventing you from doing a better job?

B: Now, now I think, well let's let's-ust-really k/' / because the white,

you couldn't get any cooperation out of 'em, new-44-we had gotten office prowedthes

FB 86A

B: you know, whites eJ J) rJ
B: you know, whites t ) I If / r this happened all through

the county-wide. I had problems with the whole um,

you know black in the head of a municipality at that time, it was just almost

totally impossible to get any cooperation from the whites at all, and uh even

when I went to the county board to get the uh, and I had to okay, sign the paper

for them to okay the start paving for the money to start the
streets, The county officials wanted to spend most of the money for a private

street, now there's a big old building up here, they call it Community Huntford

Club, pave that street running by the Huntford club on out to Mr. Watson's
C O vi i'd which would have been about a quarter mile of pavement,

4-t-wouldn't benefit anybody but Mr. Watson, and across the railroad track, aue-put
+o f^WVt/o Afv^e bc WF
a road all the way up, put-up-there another quarter mile or half a mile ea street,

all the way to a white clerk and her son house because she had been the clerk for

so many years now, and that would have been a little better, you know mere P/,Ie/5
a -if- they said they could help me out on two miles of paved

street, and that would have been about a mile, a mile and a quarter of paved street
4arJ fP,145/2S
just benefiting three people, and uh well we had some arguing about that, .wh-4e

told them that I was writing to the state department transportation to tell them

that uh, what was going on, and I didn't want to pave any street in Gretna if this

is what I had to do because I felt like we wanted 'em to help us pave the streets
that going to benefit all the people, and if I'm just going to benefit um, and then

make another street across the railroad track that went by the game room, when uh

we crossed the track well she wouldn't have to come out to the road, she can just
come straight across out to new, across the railroad track, which there was another
road Cfy o t / right there maybe a quarter mile down from her

house which she can cross and come on out by the post office, but they wanted me to

run a street across there. I guess there wouldn't have been any street if I'd of

went along with the proposal that the county was wanting, had out for me, the

county commission had, this was the proposal the county commission wanted because

FB 86A

B: up there and this up there and this is a problem, you know that when blacks first

get in office they don't, well blacks seem I guess don't trust other blacks too

well in some instances. It's bad but this is what they do.

I: Is it, is it feeling of jealousy or competition or . ?

B: Well uh, this is jealousy is involved +uh eminent person, jealous of him, you're

wishing you was there instead of him and this has happened in the past, they

want that pile. Like I've told all of 'em, make an announcement and I said now

you gonna run you say 'cause I'm doing wrong or any j0 L that come to

me and tell me that look here, you shouldn't do this, 4we I think you should step

down, I said I'll be glad to step down and I'll support you if you feel you can

do a better job, then you show me that, let me know and I can run. But they would

alwaysyou know back out, but I know these things was going, was existingand I

was trying to bring it together, bring 'em together but that'syou know,like black

on black, and this has been a problem and I think it's got to change. It's just

getting to the point that it might you know/ease up a little, but there is still

this animosity towards the uh the officials. They still
; riOtht ho^
at each other. And don't know how retna how you know deal with it, but I've been

you know --fry/ 't the uh, instead I work out some kind of solution to it, you

know how--peop+e a going to get to this but this -ha happened. Maybe to, it

could be, and it's happened even with some of the educates- so this what I, you

know, wondering how I thought once that I might have it but because of lack of

education. I believe Gretna here could benefit from it, because we do have uh

way below the norm in education for the officeholders, and I feel that this is one

of the problems. I think any officeholder should, well even the people should at

least have a high school education, this is my feeling. Very same thing that I

believe that you could be able to cope with, that you maybe meet a person better

if he has a little education, a little more education -ha-a you would normal maybe

sixth or eighth grade education, that you, you would be able to meet the person as

FB 86A

B: the whites in Gretna, the councilmen and the mayor, had presented this to them, this

is what they wanted and they had the map and these were the streets they wanted

me to check okay on it, just go ahead and sign, and I wouldn't go on ahead with

them so I that's, that I brought a big uh resentment from the white owners because

I wouldn't go along with that, saying that I was you know, I was unfavor to them,

I didn't you know want to help them out, I was looking out for the blacks, and

you know they made all the accusations in the paper and everything that I would

have paved the streets in the black which I had several state official that saw

it differently, they already had paved streets up here, this was the problem,

and I showed some state official they trying to petition and this is what was

happening, and they put pressure on the county and the county went on, you know

they wanted to go ahead and do it right then, you know, wanted me to pay up the

money F i rI to go ahead and start working on the streets then,

and uh this is what they did.

I: So you feel that was an important factor, the lack of cooperation?

B: That was an important factor, um hum.

I: How about lack of cooperation from blacks, is that one a . ?

B: Well uh, I could say you know that was uh -4eause most places
whe a small community uh ji fX I"' start easing up, even the councilmen,

the black councilmen, We uh, you going to have resentment. Sometime you see uh

power, sometimes people mix power with friendship, uh now I think this in a

sense could be dangerous, and it has been dangerous because we got everybody,

sometime we got a conflict, and-yotrTe-e pulling against you because they think

that you're looking for that if the something come out

okay it going to make you look good, or you'll look to good doing this, this not

only here in Gretna, but I've talked with some other black officials, like black
and uh told me, Johnny

Tuskegee larger than

Roosevelt um city Alabama, I talked to some officials

FB 86A

B: well, this is what I feel . .

I: And you feel, the officials here are below the norm you say for the community?
B: Yes, for the officeholder, and I think this is going to come, this is going to be
a determine factor in the next election, it caused lots of . .

I: To get people with more education?

B: Yea, because blacks you know they, they find out this is a problem, don't have any,
and uh /10L> tr / ti C he
and uh (< 1 0 U 9 T h(5 just certain things we can do and we- can't
do, we got a limitation,-yew-don't have a limitation,wt-h those uh paperwork and

administrative work. You cannot do administrative work effectively if you don't

have enough education to back you up on it, this is uh, I think this is what is
going on in the community now. They trying uh, they want somebody with more
education, at least a high school education for a councilman. feell that a

councilman shouldn't be in office without a high school education, which I think

this is a new thing.

I: Okay. This other one is lack of cooperation from state officials, has that been
a, do you feel an important item or not in terms of preventing you from doing a

better job when you were mayor?

B: Well this has been until recently until last year. Well I admit some, some uh
we elected several officials. They (or 0 d t t( J formed a thing they

called called a black, black mayor council. Okay you know N/ 4i// COeA!i \5
found out that most (r y/r/ most except for a few of them are
small town mayors, let's see like there's a, a

large university University of Florida and um
another mayor from North Carolina, 4,0cry / of' l 6drh.
And most of the rest of us is from kind of small populations.

I: You had a conference, was it last week?

B: Yes we have, we have a you know, we formed it in I think it started in '72 sort

of like a conference, _ -- C (O 0 tWe got a lot of
state officials come down and they uh federal officials and state officials was

FB 86A 30

h/Tva^t D 1* 'i, they found out this was a problem, they didn't realize
this at first, they confessed that this was a problem, theyaglzeeidwith the

president and some more domestic councilmA- and see if they can get an answer

to it, and that they really wasn't, they wasn't doing their duty, that we were

being left out because all a-loe~i t-hey-wereApassed for the big populated areas,
and and well if you don't have this HUD can't give you no money 'cause you don't

have 10,000 population or you can't get this because there got to be 10,000 or

25,000 you know, what about the people with even 5,000 people population, they

just go, they just /c afA
I: Was this true at the state level as well in terms of . ?

B: No this was true state, this was true state, 'cause most, their laws were you know

looking out for the largest area, you know populated area. There was small, we

had the guys come here for the uh, matter of fact told us in the state, he said
it's tough~,' k <, f / fe and I said well we don't owe money to you there,

we trying to owe money to the people with the beach, because we don't want their

water, we don't want the sewery'waste material going into the water, to the beaches

so all our money is allocated to these areas, to these large areas down on the

waterfront, and we asked him' fpe5/);2well what about the area here that you got

sewer just seeping up out of the ground" We've had the health officials, the state

'tetake a sample anfd-hey--c t this Cr( i; P / A~n you know that this

houses, close density houses was, this individual separate tanks wasn't the answer,

and they strongly recommended that we needed a central sewer uh facility. But
this was a problem getting you know selling this to the state and the federal
people, and I think they saw it now.

I: So are you getting more help now?

B: Yes, getting more help now, but at first there was, you just couldn't bug 'em and
5 fart k4
I mean what you got that was it, you know you just was out there forgotten *whae
they concerned, with nothing.

I: So you feel that was very important or fairly important?

FB 86A

B: Very important

I: Very important, okay. Okay that's um I guess the rest of that list. Just a few

more questions. Did you feel when you first got into office, when most of the

council was still black, did you feel that the white officials treated you

differently from other officials? Did they consider you the spokesman for the

blacks and so on?

B: What, in office here?

I: Yeah, when you were first in.

B: Yes, I felt that, well it was showing because in several meetings that I had with

4 white councilman, a local storeowner A ---- di tr and he actually felt

that he should make all the meetings for me and that he should uh get all the

papers and I had doing the study, and I think we-had to et

that-s-t*e-gh-t-ened Gut-4imed4a-e and -hien i-t kind of tee-ered off. Of course,

well faced this way um and I saw his point too, he just couldn't, he just wasn't

ready to accept that all of a sudden I'm in office and I'm going to try to you

know lead him that I'm black, I shouldn't be leading him. He's white and re-

gardless of his education that I just didn't have enough to lead him. You know,

I was supposed to lead him. He's going to be a councilman, he needs me, he makes

all the laws and regulations for me, and I think we, I got that settled, and I

got it settled th;e-he-wOUTd resign to-run against me during the following you

know election. But this was, I did you know, they felt that I just shketd+b for

be for the black, and he should speak for the white. Anything I had-te tell

+ whites-Mhar o D ere on 'em, storeowners, he felt that he should tell

'em and not me. You know, and I mean he said it a couple times in the meeting,

and I know, I wo< I/'S teg;. Well I'm mad and I feel like I should go to

the man and tell him, and then if he don't want to do it, then you know we'll

come back to the table, but I want to be the one to tell him. And i-&a+4 I don't

feel like you should be it, I appreciate your offers in doing but I reattz'the

pigmentation of my skin but I'm still the mayor of Gretna and I feel like that I

FB 86A

B: should do it, and I do. I said if I gotta go to the black and you go to the

white, -se4d I don't want that. i-sa I-'m going to,-theff He just felt like
enlPi do e'T-' t^'
that still he should do it, a -a-m-tter--of-fat that he should make all the meet-

ings with the guy because they maybe accept him better than they accept me, and
well he did, he made those statements Ay 41/s _, / J /T Z--..

iS F ll~/1\nir ed for me once because they said, they said Young picked
it up +f0t7 J*_ He went to make the all around, make to

set up the meetings for me and had the papers and had all the councilmen sign the

the engineers terms and brought to me last for me to sign, you know seeing I was
FL O twk r*P1
the last person to sign,-we needsfih+s-signe so we can turn it back to the office,

send it back to the office. And quite naturally I was kind of upset about it. I

gets on the phone and called Bishop and told him I was sending the same paper back

to him and I would like him to notice why we had a box, and put a little stamp on

it and send it out to us, send it to the clerk. I get it, he could send it to uh,

any mail he send it to I could get it if he just address it I get the mail.
And I would not sign it with all the council sign it before I had meeting on it and

come to the table about it and discuss it, that he brings it over, all the way from
Tallahasse and give it to Young C k'5 I,' //' right here and I'm right maybe

one quarter of a mile from Young's house where I was staying, you know the town
hall wasn't a quarter mile, and he had to bring it all the way to his house and

give it to him, and go around to the councilmen to sign it. Bishop claimed he

didn't do it, one of his aides did it, and he apologized that it wouldn't be, you

know and said I understand if you're the mayor you should be the mayor and you

should discuss this first. I will get this typed up and refile it back to you. So

I gave it back to Young and told him to take it back to Bishop and tell him why,

but I had called Bishop in the meantime on the phone and I just told him that I

would not sign it, you can take it back to Bishop and tell Bishop I will not sign

it until you send me a new copy of the whole contract. But all the council signed
and I'm sure that they didn't know what they were signing, they signing something

FB 86A

B: without you know realizing what they were doing He had it already notor*ized,
I(\ f e,) itt, V 5c1,?f;
you know, before I signed, j+ust-you-knew, and I think that's really

of -rin but he -.sit-.Tert -ts ih f J

I: IWhat services do you feel you have provided blacks in Gretna that they did not

have before you took office?

B: Well uh I .

I: You mentioned, okay you mentioned a few things. P
B: Yeah, okay to add on to that I think I gave them uh, well I gave the blacks jobs

see we have uh, we didn't have anybody that wasn't a full-time office at the time.

We didn't have, what you say uh road crew I got that so that we can Op lef

streets clean and sanitation for like hauling trash in the streets and trash for

them, and like keeping the streets up, and uh well I guessncreated some employment

for them, I know they got ____

I: How many jobs did that amount to, would you say .. ?

B: Um Since there's four, well actually it's about ten, it's about 15 jobs which

I ___ there wasn't no job before.

I: Not at all before?

B: Nothing, everything was you know volunteered besides you know the clerk got a part-

time salary. Everything else was volunteer.

I: We have another check list. Now some of these may or may not apply to Gretna and

some of the areas we've already covered here as well, but we want you to rate once

again how effective you think you have been while you were in office in the following

service areas in terms of benefiting blacks. For example, first of all police


B: You know we don't have any police protection.

I: Yeah that's a county .

B: County doing it but you know they say, not out here like they should, they have

a letter and are supposed to try to start, they looking for a little assistance

from the uh regional office for police protection because we want them to do some

FB 86A

B: kind of county-wide thing uh try to start on their own by October 1. And so uh

counties don't have enough man power to you know to cover. They come out through

here maybe, well after the fact, after something has happened then they comes out.

We don't have anybody out here at the time. And lots of business and industrial

have thought about you know coming out I:here like-G4ei-ng +he fabricating company,

but they want to know did we have any kind of police protection. You know, the

city had their own police protection, and this is, they 've been hesitant about

coming because of that. So this has been, we don't have that.

I: Okay, streets and roads you had talked about . .

B: Yeah, I think I've been sver, picked up streets and roads. I got about say 85

percent of the streets in the black section paved . .

I: Paved?

B: /e e /-/ /' f^ 1 ,k.

I: Okay, housing?
B: Housing, not effective there, somewhat e#-mcorse, as a matter of fact,4-hey-a4e

somewha-t-poor,--they-a-neot- ff ef.Li t-atrl .

I: But you did try to get . .

B: We tried to yes.

I: Some HUD?

B: We tried through the um self housing program t~e ea, you know self housing,

you what they call uh S/' _____- you know you help you know so many

houses, you know families start together. I worked on that program but it didn't,

material) ~ai~ enough of- s-ee--wa down, I remember A l that I cried

1 / / .
I: Okay, how about welfare?

B: Welfare, I think I've been somewhat effective you know, not like I wanted to.

There's always a little room for improvement in that social service, I didn't

-ge. enough of social help there.

I; Is welfare handled through the county Uh . ?

FB 86A

B: Well you know through the uh, like when L-wa djinagwelltfagg re, helping through the

senior citizens, some of those, you know with transportation. This is what I was

talking about. Just dealing with just welfare, no I haven't.

I: Yeah, okay, yeah, we were -tis- more in terms of actual federal and county

welfare funds. Employment you just mentioned that you had felt um, gotten some

jobs. How would you rate uh your . ?

B: That's important somewhat because you know you're never going to be effective

at the employment the way the uh *a-t4ion _, you know unemployment going

on, so I'll say somewhat. Fifteen of them I think, that's a great number for

Gretna you know. I'm going to say somewhat on that. And parks and recreations,

I haven't been with the park, but recreation I think we've been excellent with that,

I: You said you used some, was it revenue sharing money for uh . .?

B: For recreation, right.

I: Water, sewage and garbage?

B: Well water we had you know increased the line of the water/\somewhat on that one,

'c s the sewer hadn't been-~i. We talked about it, but they said the money

has been approved, but we hadn't got it yet, you know that could be another two

or three years. They assume that we should get it, should start to work before

this year is out. So we're just sitting back on that.

I: Okay, so how would you rate .. ?

B: I'm going to say somewhat.

I: Somewhat?

B: Shuffling around I-- f i need lots of improvement on that.

I: Health and hospitals?

B: Health and hospital I hadn't you know uh, we're trying the, we got a clinic here

but we haven't been able to do anything else. It's operated mostly through the

county. The building belongs to the city, and the lights and the garbage collection

FB 86A 36

B: other things paid by the city Ao ) C paid by the city but

I: The clinic is paid for by the city?

B: No, the uh clinic building, but the uh medical supplies is by the uh, and the

personnel is paid for by the county, through the county and state. So uh I

hadn't been any /

I: Did you get the clinic here, or was that here before you?

B: Well uh, they moved the building here, and then we had, 4t painted, fixed it up.
eei li IP
(Q / Y ko hik / bought the btri-hing, ut we uh had ra fixed the clinic up.
Fixed i, you know painted and pt windows and things in it, air conditioner and
-aI-tte gas.

I: While you were in office?

B: Yes.

I: How about education?

B: No, I hadn't provided any education for the peoples of Gretna, hadn't been able
to .

I: That didn't apply to you?

B: No.

I; Where do they, where do the students .

B: Well the county you know, students go to the _.some county schools-b4t the elemen-
tary school is down here about a mile, and then they go to Quincy for high school,
and so uh, I ge_ ,A____

I: How about fire protection?" ;

B: Well, we got a volunteer fire protection which is uh, we try to -sey4,get more
volunteer fire things so uh we uh Oht 49o. but our equipment is, I've been
trying everywhere to get a better truck. We got old forester truck that we con-

verted into a fire engine. And uh it'll do if you get there, but you know kind

of slow, old army jeep and the truck like uh, got pretty good equipment on it but

the condition of it still lacks, P#_t/y _r__ ____

FB 86A

I; So ..

B: I would just say somewhat, A 4 a

I: Somewhat?

B: Yes, we put the fire (chuckle)

I: Um, as an elected official, were you able to attempt to bring in some industry or

retail stores into this area?

B: Yes, I tried to but uh like I was ta+k ig-you before they'd~ask about the police
/I/"^- tXye MR, A L, k-
protection, a7nd-Iotsr f 56 t0 i 1c/C about the police, -and seme-asked about do-yeY

have our individual water plant, sewer plant. They come by, they have to discharge
their raw product or something, you know somewhere-ifn they rather than building a

big septic tank of their own, they'd like to you know push it all out into a

mainstream, and this has been a holdup on the water and police protection. 4-f-we

-hadra sewer plant and the police protection this has been a hold up on the . .

I: So you weren't able to bring in . ?

B: Weren't able to bring ~ f\ I ny '

I: Have there been any black protests, sit-ins, boycotts of any sort here in Gretna

over the last 10 years.

B: Yes there have. I believe that in '69 or '70 they have, Ayc i g
Trcfik /r d< rheram" f!r8 7
there-en SruS5 tr It was which was, both of

them is out of business now due to it, to the fact, to the ihMs- oif ,__
f K 7 They beat up some boy, some black kid

just before I came out of the service, this was going on as soon as I got out ,
L o r et rnf'e?
in October, 1969, and during the voter's registration drive,

________stopped hi 1_______y h) iH oleo,
and this black boy always played together. This little boy,-Ihis little boy had

a little uh run-in, like little kids do. He went on and told his daddy and ~s~e

ride down this street and kicked this boy, and it almost caused, almost kicked off

a little racial incident. Kicked the boy, slapped him against something, little

FB 86A

B: bitty kid, smaller -0 f 1 A 4r/ / /r(,
i: -'p /// /AI,'I? e'rA;y',' 7o,~ ^//,tr) <^rt..,
I: He was white?
B:,,.He was white, C l,-f- this black boy down the road and beat himy/ u1" iu
ar /5 i P.' ? .two little boys about five years-old couldn't do that much

to each other, you know. So a couple of blacks got angry, but you know quite
naturally. Boy's father got mad and they A Jyu /Rlt7 ahot piece, you know
walking down the street with a gun and things. The cops came etr, the county, and
all of them trying to-ste, get everything quiet. But there's almost neoe, *-th
a little touchOl on that.. he had business here, he didn't have
no business so he had to leave, trt-. had good business, she
had most of the stores in Gretna, she had about four or, four businesses. She had
two groceries, she had one grocery, or was it two grocery? She had one grocery
&m a self service grocery store like and then she had a big snack bar, hot sand-
which thing like, ice cream stand, and then a big service station. So she just had
everything blooming and . .
I: But she left?
B: Yo_ od/ _yOw l\ ______ ) the blacks you know boycotted her, and
when they did you know a /i fax / t.,/^\5
I: They boycotted?
B: Yes.
I: Why was that, as a result of that incident?
B: It was yeah, of the incident, so uh she just ran out. 1 irnoc
C 10sed ur
both of them thoe-+eft.
I: Has there been any other incidents?
B: No, it was just them, no
I: Okay, I have just a couple questions on sort of politics in the state of Florida;4f
I'd like you to comment on if you would. First of all what is your opinion of

FB 86A

I: Gov. Reubin Askew$ that is do you think he's been favorable in attitude and policy

toward blacks in Florida or none?

B: Well, I think uh, you know maybe a whole lots more he could do and I'd rather

not get into that but I think he has been you know, he has been fair. I think he

has, like I'm sure there's a lot's he want to do, a lot more he want to do but

then I guess he still have his cabinet member that he has to go through. Right now

I think they~ 7 / '/t'4> P a little harder than in the past, but really

you know he's checking most of his uh moves, ps a matter of fact, pOMn t' ?f
his appointment I see they're not just going ahead with his appointing, they,

you know,testing his appointing, you know anybody he tries to put in office,

especially you know ? really, goes on him pretty hard. I think he has been


I: Are there any things in particular that he has done that you felt were quite fav-

B: Well, uh this uh, one thing he recently did, I think it put a little pressure on

him an 4 I read a article about ______6Ll

appointment of this black judge. He did that. That really was a I imagine
for him to do. He did that. I don't know whether he was

pressured to do it or what, but like ye~ said it was a key factor you know in uh

getting uh some blacks vp in there. /

I: What about your opinion of other state officials or even state representatives,
do you feel favorable or unfavorable towards any in particular, for example your
state representatives?

B: Well don'/ ;"L, A guy named Pat Thomas)y ,,i;// /Ad A 'f"/,i k,',t4 Y-Y a

I: No, I'm not.

B: Well Pat Thomas, hef-e ks -ike he been favorable you know to you know to, seems to
be fair, he's really done alot.

I: Where's he from?

FB 86A

B: He's from Quincy (talking together) But he lives between Quincy and Gretna,

right out there around W City, he stays in there, so Pat Thomas, he's qwte-a


I: Has he done anything to benefit Gretna?

B: Well he helped out on the revenue sharing, the state revenue sharing. Once they

was going to cut it and I think Pat really stuck up for us to get it and uh

1 ,' r /' yi46, r d,-s5 y, ;,k) "' e came out strong for us. If he had of went

the other way they would have been cut. And that could have been a crucial blow

to Gretna, a bad blow. That's where most of the money come from, that state


I: Finally just sort of, as a major question, do you think,winning and holding

office in Florida has been worth the effort for you?

B: Well uh, in one instance I would say it has been, and in others I say no because

well I've had, really I've had some A _d resentment. I have, Pftr j
3e*)f J ,$i7ck/ holding office I was never equal which one principal told me
that I would never be able to get a teaching job in the county as long as I'd be

the mayor, and I'm r l.A from the county and I've never taught in the county

no more than subs and4-what-net. iif I turn that off and resign

from the mayor there would be no problem me having a jobi, you know 'cause he would

like to hire me, es-aa-mter-of fact he was my principal once, and I interned 4.

-the school. And he told me that he had three or four math and science positions

open but he just couldn't hire me. He could recommend me but he h' BC64he
TAe / vr 1.e//e
wasn't going to do it. t -sh4p f '/ __ the superintendent,

assistant superintendent, that they wouldn't recommend that they just try to get

me a job elsewhere, and he recommend me to go to the uh, well he had me a job to

go to'Bristol, which is about 21 or 30 miles from here and teach history, and I

said well I'm not a history teacher, I studied math and science and this is what I

would like to be into, rather not take that. You know he said well I want to get

you a job, but I just can't hire you. And they've had, every year they have, they're

FB 86A

B: looking, the county been searching for math teachers, Tha+t -soun-p4-k but

but always be that they don't have anybody, have to send some out, Tallahassee or

maybe from Georgia somewhere and get one. They needed a as a matter of fact

they had a lady from Georgia just, she's, she's minored in math, who teaches down

here at the school, local school down here, and I asked for a job and said he-woue lk t
i have it.

I: So in that sense you feel it's been a negative . .

B: It's been negative because I haven't been able you know, ey o n/ O Wt w q

J 6itw this is it, I have been recommended for the job and this

sometime it just come in, you know right at the final minute that you know I don't

have, well uh who I am. Well okay I'm mayor of Gretna. Then they'll say well I'll

have to interview you, or you got a job, so you start to work, and as a matter of

fact I had the papers and everything to go to work to several jobs county, then

they found out this, well uh we got a hold on the job. Maybe a month later some-

body will have the job.

I: Were there any positive.aspectsof winning and holding office?

B: Well uh, no more than, well in this county here, no more than maybe r /~'*
that's all I ever . .

I: Publicity?

B: Publicity because, well it wasn't no salary for me, I didn't accept any, well I

hadn't got any salary, well now the officials are getting salaries, but I didn't

get any salary, as a matter of fact two of the councilmen told me that the former

mayor told them whatever they do, that don't vote for no salary for me, as long as

I stay in office, don't get no salary. Once I leave they get salary. He just

didn't want me to have a salary ,'r! tf This man had a strong

impact on two of the black councilmen which is still in office now. Whatever he

tell 'em that's it;they vote.

I: They do have a little salary now, didn't you say?

B: Oh yes sir.

FB 86A

I: How much are they paid?

B: I think the mayor getting about close to 500 I think the council getting about

k2-something a month, /250 something like that.
I: A year?

B: No month, A250 a month, yeah and the mayor getting aboutX500.

I: But this was after you .. .. ?

B: After I left.

I: Just a couple of quick questions ( f t eo You were first elected on

what time, what month in the year?

B: December, 1971, December 1971
I: Dec...

B: Yeah, December 1971.

I: December 1971 and you took office when?

B: Took office the first of January, 1972.

I: 1972, and you held office until when?

B: September of '74, September 26.

I: Your age?

B: When I was first elected?

I: Yeah.
B: 24.

I: 24, so you're 30?

B: I'm uh 29 now.

I: 29, your occupation?
B: eofell (,vt/ fi) q mathematics instructor, but now I'm working with ___,

/Dl,' Office Machine Co., Tallahassee, office machines.
I: Your education?

B: Well I have a BS in mathematics and biology, and should get, hoping to get my

masters in both fields about end of this quarter.

FB 86A

I: Where did you get your degree from?

B: Florida A & M.

I: Were you active in the civil rights movement from 1960 to 1967?

B: Um, well I was you know not with so much in '67 because I was in the service in

'67, military <_ ' '

I: From '60-'66?

B: Well in '69 after I got out of, I got active in it you know.

I: So later on you were, but not that early?

B: No.

I: Do you belong to a church?

B: Yes sir.

I: What, what . ?

B: The Springfield it's Methodist.

I: Doyou hold a position in your church?

B: Yes. ( F4 le n~ler.

I: Pardon?

B: Class leader.

I: Class leader?

B: Um hum.

I: Are there any other community organizations or activities that you are involved in?

B: Yes, I'm the director chairman of the board of senior citizens of Gadsen County.
t Cjfy k/t helped work that out, started that organization going for that,

it's not black it's just you know whites and blacks, (j senior citizens,

Gadsden County.

I: Are you still a member of the NAACP?

B: Yes.


B: Pardon, SCLC yes, I'm still a non-voting member.

FB 86A

I: Any other groups?

B: No, no io0 otherS

I: What was your father's occupation?

B: Just a sharecropping tobacco, sharecropper.

I: In this area?

B: This area, Gadsden County.

I: Finally, what effects did you feel running and holding, running for and holding

office had on you personally; did it change your life, or did it have any, you

said you, it obviously made it tough for you to get a job, did it change your way

of thinking personally in any way?

B: Well uh, and uh, well I have to say yes because you know holding office you have to,

you got to try to make sure you know you do right. You don't want to leave. I know

that I have to think when I'm being asked a question and try not to give an answer

that you couldn't live up to, you have to give an answer that you could either you

know wade through it and you couldn't said, you know well I'm gonna do this, or yes

it's going to be a(Pft Try to make sure that your answers is

right, that you almost live up to it or maybe a day or so after, you wouldn't want

to give a person a date like say, you know it'll be done tomorrow. It's impossible

you know maybe something like that, giving you, ye u-ttink*Tn you try to be flexible

with your thinking instead of you know, you, it's hard to be in politics, holding

office I guess, #4 /-. /-. yo .:,'-,wouldn't want to start giving exact dates

and couldn't live up to it, that is impossible in this day. Lots of times you'll

be speaking uh from other state officials, and things might change. Once if you say

well they gonnayou know.get me some money this day, then come down from state affairs

saying well the check'-eing-delayed a couple days, they don't care that, you have

lied to the public out there so, this did have some of my thinking change my think-

ing ou
I: Oh why, you, you, you decided not to run again for office, is that right?

FB 86A 45

B: Well yes, in well '75, yes I decided not to run. I got in a little trouble with

you know some county and the state jury so I decided not to run in '75, you know

maybe I d-run later.

I: I see.

B: I don't know at this time whether I would or not but I feel I, lots of people are

pushing, still at this point I'm not

The End

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