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interviewed by Otis R. Anthony and members of the Black History Research Project of Tampa.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 transcript (7 p.)
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project.
Other interviewers for the Black History Research Project of Tampa were Fred Beaton, Joyce Dyer, Herbert Jones, and Shirley Smith.
Interview conducted May 12, 1978.
Warren Jolly describes playing football at Middleton High School in the 1960s. He also provides commentary on local politics, discussing some of the African Americans running for office in Tampa or Hillsborough County.
Middleton High School (Tampa, Fla.).
Anthony, Otis R.
Black History Research Project of Tampa.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
y CLICK HERE TO ACCESS DIGITAL TRANCRIPT
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1 Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida Oral History Project Oral History Program Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library Digital Object Identifier : DOI: A31 00061 Interviewee: Warren Jolly (WJ) Interviewe r : Fred Beato n (FB) Interview d ate: May 12, 1978 Interview location: Unknown Transcribed by: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Interview changes: Maria Kreiser Interview changes date: March 23, 2009 Final edit by: Mary Beth Isaacson Final edit date: March 2 5, 2009 [ Note: There is no audio available for this interview ] Warren Jolly : Today, the attitude is hustle bustle, and that's bad. I learned something from all my coaches, for motivation coach Abe B rown would give you that extra push you needed to lift your spirits. And as far as picking up skills to play QB [quarterback ] coach Ronnie Brown was inspirational. He was young. I could relate to him as a person. He influenced me into attending the college he had attended. Coach William Bethel. I looked to hi m for leadership, he was my neighbor, a fine person. He even taught me how to fish. We had a special relationship. Coach Reed and I had special relationship. I learned a lot from all my coaches. I even learned things from Coach Jim Williams ; we had a speci al relationship. Competition get s you ahead and stay extra steps in developing yourself. There is a severe problem o f illiteracy a ffecting our people. The test is a monitoring tool used to help people. I think the black parent should teach his child every thing he knows about everything. Kinda made us think that we, blacks were ugly. We were c on ditioned, we were brainwashed, we didn't like ourselves. We didn't know who we were. We didn't have any black history. We didn't know where we came from. We knew n othing about ourselves so we were totally in a state of confusion about who we are and I think we identified who we are and then the bl ack movements in the early sixties [1960s] came about and I think this is when people start saying, I'm black and I'm pro ud of it and that's one of the best things for us to say : I like the color of my skin. Now we recognize that black people are just as or even more intelligent than anybody else. I stated when I was about seven years old, I was work orientated and an indu strious type person. I started off by selling papers, shining shoes, this kind of thing but I t h ink my first major job was working at the chicken market in the neighborhood in the Ybor City area and eventually I moved up t o manager. I was no more than ten or eleven years old working on the weekend opening up the shop. This kind of thing and during this time we
2 had live chicken we had to dress. Then we dressed everything from fish, chickens, turkeys, opossums, coons, ducks and geese. You name it, we clean ed it. I got interested in sports at an early age because I lived next door to my high school coach, Coach William Bethel. All my brothers had played football and I couldn't wait to grow up, get in high school and participate I always liked to run when I was a kid; I used to race my neighbor to school. His dad would drive him to school. I would beat them because I would run through the project and the red lights w ould stop them. It was about a three mile run and would be a t him every morning. I always li ked to run and take care of my body. During my teen period, I always had a job. I guess I'm putting emphasis on working, getting your own thing being independent. You wouldn't have to rely on anybody to do anything because I lost my father at an early age and I came from a large family so I had to hust le. Either that or wait on my mama to get me something and she didn't have the money I've always liked nice things and so I've always worked and working is good for you. It gives you a sense of respo nsibility. In junior high s chool I played softball, ran track, weightlifting. I didn't like basketball and I couldn't wait to get in high school. And so when I finally got in high sch ool I went to Middleton in the nin th grade. This was in 1962. This wa s the first ninth grade class. They had to double. It's like being a little fish in a pond, but being competitive I went on and I tried out for the Junior Varsity football team and Coach Billy Reed was the coach. I made the team. I was a linebacker, I really didn't care what position I played I just wanted to play. They had a quarterbacking sit uation where Leroy Owens was first strain QB for varsity. He had gotten his arm broken and Dave Bowden, which was the back up QB had gotten a pinch nerve in his neck T he JV [Junior Varsity] QB at that time was Mose s Karry and they moved him up, so I switched to QB. To play QB for the JV and during my midway of the fir st season, my talents were recognized as being a stiff competitive and they moved me up from the JV to the Varsity and that was a lot of responsibility for a young to actually be calling the signals for some older guys. I was the ba ck up QB. I played a little my ninth grade year. But my ten th grade year I went to practice with the attitude that QB job belonged to me. The summer before school started I was carr ying around a football religiously because there's one thing I knew, that I could throw a football. The reason I could throw is because I practiced in my spare time. I would hang a tire up on t he pole and throw the ball through it. So when school started, I made the fir st team. Some of my teammates: James Bivens, pro; Rob English ; Lloyd Mumphord, pro, Dolphins and Colts ; Dale Bell, space center, Kennedy ; Charlie Lavrae, own Lain & Garden series in Colorado ; Ernest Creole ; all the guys that were good athletes. Ninety percent of them are very successful. I have something else to say in regard to physical health. If a person is physically healthy, he or she would be able to do a lot of things and won 't be tired and sluggish. I'm thirty two years old righ t now. I jog five miles every day when I jog. I feel like I'm on a natural
3 high. I recommend anybody to stay in shape. When I was in high school we didn't have sniffers, pill popping, pot smoking, d rinking, et cetera. There was no evidence of glue sniffing, pill popping, pot smoking. It was an all black high school. It was one big happy family. The problems were family type of problems. The teachers were more involved because of the family like atmos phere. If a teacher saw a student skipping classes she would counsel the student or make a per sonal visit and tell your parents I saw your child skipping school today ," and they would follow it up. Now today and I'm not knocking integration but the teachers are not that involved. Everything is business T hey see a kid smoking pot and they wouldn't do anything to him We had a coach name Abe Brown, Middleton ; Jim Williams Blake ; Coach Bethel; Ronnie Brown [they all] chastised you right then. They did not tolerate you feeling on women, cursing women, wearing your shirt out. People were proud to see us. But it is today's youth who don't have supervision. We did ; that's the key problem. Young people don't love discipline. D isci pline to me is not leadin g scour ing. Discipline is teaching. They love to show the right way, they love attention and they will do anything to get attention, negative things and positive things and that's the problem. You don't have that close family type situation where your scho ol is set up where blacks were involved in helping blacks out. Today, the attitude is hustle bustle and that's bad. I learned something from all my coaches, for motivation C oach Abe Brown would give you that extra push you needed to lift your spirits. And as far as picking up skills to play QB C oach Ronnie Brown was in spirational. He was young. I could relate to him as a person. He influenced me into attending the college he had attended. Coach William Bethel I looked to him for leadership; he was my neighbor, a fine person. He even taught me how to fish. We had a special relationship. Coach Reed and I had a special relationship. I learned a lot from all my coaches. I even learned things from Coach Jim Williams ; we had a specia l relationship. My high point in 1963, our team was as ragged as a mang o seed. We had injuries from a to z in almost every position. James Bivens was out. He got his leg broke. Nobody expected us to win. A lot of responsibility fell upon me. We did a survey of the team. What we were weak and what we were strong in. Previous year, I was all city at QB and receiving and we utilized our strong point to offset our weak points. A long of pressure was thrown on me because if I didn't function right the team did not function right. T hat was my high point. My low point was when we played Blake. We played ten games and Blake w on eight and lost one when we played Blake in 1963. Blake was healthy and we were crippled with injuries. They were just waiting for us. They had our plays down pat but being the competitor I was, I scored the only touchdown. The game was scouted by the college that I would attend. So even though I didn't have a good day, I had a good day considering. I was good friends of several of the players at Blake. Blake was on the west and Middleton was on the east and we had a great rivalry My senior year we rode with Blake on the way to a baseball tournament We left town as
4 one ; even though we were rivals we were go ing to take care of business. It was a unity th ing, a common bond representing Tampa ; we were different and we were very mannerable. If anybody tried to disrupt this unity both schools would have helped each other. The same thing happened when I went to college. There were eighteen dudes from Tampa an d surrounding areas, and all of the Tampa guys made the team. I'm talking about guys like Ernest Corney, Wilbert William, William Wilds, these type guys. After college I was offered jobs in little towns. Georgi a is a good place to visit but I was concerned about coming back to town. I love Tampa and I have seen it change. Advice to younger kids would be to stay away from psychology and sociology. Right now I am employed as an employment counselor. They have stated, Continue learning to be blacksmiths whe n there are no horses." My advice would be as good as you can in any endeavor. Be cause you know your weaknesses. Because when you are in college, you are competing against the best in the United States. They recruit the best so you have to be in better co ndition. Example : in class if you have a report use more than one source so you have a broader scope of the subject. Competition get s you ahead and stay extra steps in developing yourself. The advantage that blacks have entering white universities is exp osure, more money to attract black talent. Major universities operate with the law. Everybody can't go to a white university. I rather see the good athlete going to the black univer sity than white. Integration eliminated the closeness and the personi fi cation that you receive at an all black school. All athletes were monitored to make sure that we wouldn't lose nobody. If we had an athlete who was cutting the coach would intervene and solve the problem Integration has not met this criteria. There is a severe problem of illiteracy affecting our people. The test is a monitoring tool used to help people. I think the black parent should teach his child every thing he knows abo ut everything. Example : I have two boys out at the automotive center. My oldest son asked me for money for the vending machine. Cakes and stuff. He read the date on the cake and it showed that the cake was two days over so my oldest son asked me what should he do about it. He asked if the cake was still good. I told him it could be, it could not be It was up to him to eat it. Okay so he carried it to the cashier for refund. She tried to tell him it was good but he would not ac cept it and would not eat it. Okay This I feel gave him th e experience of decision making although this may have been a bit s mall but he still shows that he can make decisions and stick to them. I left out a very important person in my life. That was my father. He was the most unusual man I've ever met in my life. And I'm not say ing it because he's my fath er. I'd like to tell you about him. I have eight brothers and two sisters. My father was a cement finisher so when I was a little boy I would always go to work with him H e would always say "Y es sir; yes ma 'a m, to white folks, his boss man, et cetera He was a big man. Six feet tall, 220 pounds solid muscles and he didn't drink or curse. He was a good disciplinarian He was a man who got respect. I never could understand why he would say "Y es sir ," and "Ma'a m to white folks.
5 The confusing thing, h e would insist on us children giving him respect. I asked him one day I was twelve or maybe thirteen and it was during the summer I had gone to work with him and he told me that it was the role he had to play to get work. He wasn't afraid. He needed the work to take care of his family. This was during the period there were quite a few black contractors and you could get black ball. He would make around 600 or 700 dollars a week and that was good money then. One Friday I went to work with my father. T h e guy owed my father 700 dollars and the guy said James M y father said "Y es sir. I don't have al l your money. I only have 400 dollars of it. You'l l get the rest later when I can. S o my father looked at the guy and said I want my money. I worked for it. I fin ished the job on time. I even worked in the rain. I got a lot of respect but I want my money. M an, if you don't give me my money, I'll t ake my knife out and put about two in your head and then break it off and leave it to the hands of the L ord. I felt so proud when my father did that that night. That taught me a lesson. Even though he said "Y es sir ," and "Y es ma 'a m and exhibit this kind of respect I think most people see it as a weak man A nd he wasn't because I felt proud that my daddy stood up for his rights T hat stuck with me N ot being violent but stand up for your rights and don't let people walk all over you cause you are black. My father was very influential in my life. H e was the type of guy the whole neighborho od respected. We need more men like that. During that time different parents catch you doing something wrong they'll talk to your parents to get punish ment I think more good men came out of that era than now, because people cared about you. I think we n eed more of a community that is tight : one that is friendly one that cares, et cetera. We don't have that nowa days but I wish. The neighborhoods were, back then, were you could leave for a few days and everybody would take care of your house and everythi ng. The black community is so divided I've found. For example, the political arena if we get Andrews 1 the Harveys 2 may not like it or vice versa. Finding a candidate that everybody want is the problem. I think people should look at as less of the two evils. Politics is a very evil situation anyway. I would feel much better with a qualified black man whether I liked him or not. I like politics. It s challenging. One day I'm gonna be the mayor of Tampa. Fred Beaton : Why do you think it took so long to elect a black official? WJ: When did we elect one? Well, Reverend [A. Leon] Lowry. Tampa has very unusual 1 C. Blythe Andrews and family, the owners of the Florida Sentinel Bulletin. 2 Perry Harvey Senior and Junior, both presidents of the longshoremen's union
6 makeup. Is comprised of the majority than minorities and what I mean by that you have blacks, we have Spanish, which outnumber whites so we ha ve two minorities out numbering what is normally the majority which is white people A nd then that is a situation, it is a chaotic situation where we really can't get any mo mentums on one because you get two minori ties and they L et's take the black mino rities. They are fighting among themselves and there is no unity because they are more concerned about what this person has and what his family did and what his daddy did than what this person has and what his family did and what his daddy did than what t his person has to offer and it is a sad situation N ow we are just coming off another situation and I think we're getting educated to the point for us to realize that this is happening to us. You tak e when I was in high school, junior high school. E very time I cut on the TV, I saw a beautiful white l ady selling Prell shampoo, et cetera. Every time I go to the movie, I saw a beautiful white woman as sex symbols. Everywhere, white women. [Editor's note: M uch of the following paragraph appears earlier in the transcript as well.] Kinda made us think that we blacks were ugly. We were conditioned, we were brainwashed, we didn't like ourselves. We didn't know who we were. We didn't have any black history. We didn't know where we came from. We knew nothing abo ut ourselves so we were totally in a state of confusion about who we are I think we identified who we are and then the black movements in the early sixties [1960s] came about and I think this is when people start saying, I'm black and I'm proud of it A nd that's one of the best things for us to say I like the color of my skin. The black movement came out, we start liking the color of our skins and we start processing our hair and start wearing it natural like it really is and other guys would ge t processes. All these chemicals trying to get white folks ha i r. Even buying French poodles and riding around in their cars and stuff I think it was a phase we had to go through and I'm glad we went through it. We should've gone through it earlier but w e went through it. Now we recognize that black people are just as or even more intelligent than anybody else. I think the whole mode of the country has changed from a very violent point to a love, understanding type situation. Sometimes, I go to the neig hborhoo d bars that are known to be cut throat and raunchy and this type thing and I go through sometime and holler at the local folks, my friends. The attitude that they have, ghetto people. I think the cut ting and arg uing is trivial to some degree. I thi nk it's a little more unity. What could be the economical situation that make people be closer but I think the whole mode is changed. We finally recognized that we are somebody and we should be proud of our roots and our heritage and I think this is going to have some influence on political situation where we will stop being a bunch of crabs in a basket that pull each other down when one of us reach the top. I think this mood is going to change and it's going to take young people like ourselves to change the situation completely I think it will change and I think we'll
7 get some blacks in the public office. F B: What do you think the chances are if Alton White runs for mayor? WJ: I think they would be pretty good. A lot of people don't know Alton. Not like I know him. I've observed his work. Number one He is very intelligent and qualified and he knows the work needs of the city govern ment to deal with certain a lot of problems and a lot of people don't know this. The present mayor, M ayor [Bill] Poe put a lot of responsibilities on Alton. He just doesn't have the type job where he goes, take his shoes off and sit at his desk and loosen his tie. Th is man works. Alton also jogs every morning. The last I talked to him he had gotten to about three mil es a day and a matter of fact, I have to call him and tell him I'm up to five. He jogs, keeps his body in condition, he's a humani tarian, loves people but he's the type of guy that does things to help people and they don't know it. He is responsible for t hat park in West Tampa. He doesn't go around boasting about it but he was responsible. He knew funds were available for that type situation. He has enough contact in Washington to find out beforehand what funds are available and he developed. That's one of his pet peeves projects and I think Riverfront is a nice project. It is a beautiful facility. It's a beautiful project. I've seen that man do thing s for people on a low key basis cause that's the type of man he is. We need him. If we lost him and di d not put him in office, then town would be set back a few ye ars. Like one step forward and two steps backwards well, it will be one step forward and about ten backwards if we don't get him in there. He's a very good man and a fine athlete I think we nee d to start being more black conscious and getting black officials into key offices and I think this time is approaching more rapidly and will be. Missis sippi is ahead of us as far as in that respect. Mulberry, Lakeland has a black mayor or had a black may or and it will catch on. Next few years. Next few months. I think we're ready now. e nd of interview