Interview with Frank Legree
QUESTION 8
MADISON DAVIS LACY:

You know, your hand gestures are fine while you're talking to me, that sound will pick up on the mic, so try not to, you know, hit the table. But it's OK, it's cool. Um, um, all right, now we go to what happened next, and I want you to pick it up with, if it's appropriate to pick up with that story about how, um, sorry, about how, ah, the, ah, picketing starts, or the White Citizens' Council decides that they, you know, they gonna, they call you up and say they gonna kill you. Remember, you, you started telling me about how you had a White informer who went to the meetings and, ah, and, ah, then you worked on yourself all the way into that story about, ah, that night. Now, you know, when you had heard from the informant that they were going to put the cross on your lawn, and you notified the police, and media, and if there is anything that strikes your funny bone about all that, let it rip, I mean, because I'd laugh, but I mean, it was one of those tactics that seemed to have worked.

FRANK LEGREE:

OK. Mm hmm.


MADISON DAVIS LACY:

Now, you told me that, ah, somebody threatened you with death at one point, and the White Citizens' Council. Start that story, tell me.

FRANK LEGREE:

Oh, yeah, that was, ah, what, ah, they called it, Hawthorne, was the White Citizens' Council. They used to have meetings about a block from the home where I was living, and, they would have this White Citizens' Council meeting, or whatever they called it, you know, and they had been to the house trying to make an offer to me, what, you know, "Hey, you want to sell the house?" I told them, "Yeah, I'll sell it," you know. So they come to the house, when they walked up, knocked on the door, you know, they said, "We want to come and see what kind of offer you--" I said, "What you offering for my house?" They said, "Twenty five thousand dollars." I said, "You give me a hundred thousand dollars, I'll move tomorrow," you know. They all said, "I told you he was crazy! I told you he was crazy!" And everybody left, you know. But anyway, ah, we found out that they were having these meetings, so the attorney for the NAACP, G.E. Graves, he found an informer, which was White, to start attending these, these meetings, because they wanted to know what was going on. They had, we'd heard a lot of threats and, by mail and on the phone, but we didn't actually know what they were really doing, you know, at these meetings, so we wanted to find out. And, ah, they would pay him just to go to these meetings. So he went to one meeting and he came back and Dr. King was here at that time. He called all of us over, we went over to Reverend Graham's home, and we sit down and discussed, and this fellow came in, a fellow which I didn't know, and, ah, I had met him for the first time, so he said, ah, "Well, at this meeting they decided that they going to kill you." And, I, you know, "Kill me?" So, ah, he said, "Yes," he said, "they had decided that they were going to shoot the lights out on Fourteenth Avenue, which I was living between Fourteenth and Fifteenth Avenue on 55th St., and they have the street lights. So they had decided that they were going to shoot the lights out on each corner, and they was going to have this big seven-foot cross on a pickup truck, and they was going to come and bring it to my home and put it on the lawn, and after they was supposed to have lit the cross and start burning, this was when they were going to start the shooting. But, before this had happened, we had notified, after finding out all this, we notified Chief Headley of the police and told him, said, "Hey, this man's life, now has been threatened, they talking about what they going to do, and we want to know, what can you do to give him protection at his home?" And he told us, he said, "Well, there's nothing I can do, they haven't did anything, you know, to him, they just only talking, there's nothing we can do." So we decided to go to the media with the dum- I think it was Channel Four, and also the Miami Herald, and we told them what we, information we had, and what they intend to do, and they were glad to hear this, and they told us, "No problem, we'll be there, we gonna see, you know, what was going on." So now, at the meantime, Chief Headley done told us he was not going to be there, you know, but after he find out that we had done went to the television station, and they were going to be there, and the Miami New- ah, Herald was going to be there, so they decided to go ahead and send some police there they self, which we had a, ah, open, ah, place in the front of my house where it was a lot of trees so you could hardly see anyone. And, sure enough, that night, it was supposed to come between nine and ten o'clock. Sure enough, 9:30, we hears this gun goes off, shoots the light out there, shoots the light out on Fifteenth Avenue, a few minutes, and this truck come with four men, four White males, with a seven-foot cross. And they pull up right to my house, just as the informant told us they were going to do, took out the cross, put it up against a tree, and as soon as they got the cross in this tree, they was, the officer was supposed to wait until they light it. But they didn't. They rushed out, grabbed them, and put them under arrest. You know, but if they had waited and, until they had set this afire, they could have gotten more time, but this is what they did, you know, before that, although they did catch them, I'm glad they caught them on my lawn, but I wanted to do something, but they didn't want me to do what I wanted to do, you know.