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The Honorable Floyd Griffin

Floyd Griffin, retired United States Army Colonel, former Georgia State Senator and current Mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia was born May 24, 1944, in Milledgeville. Griffin holds an A. S. degree in funeral service from Grupton Jones College, a B. S. in building construction from Tuskegee Institute and a Masters degree in contract procurement and management from the Florida Institute of Technology. He is also a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College and the National War College.

Griffin's twenty-three-year career in the military began in 1967 when Griffin served as a helicopter pilot and flight instructor in Vietnam. He served a tour of duty in Germany also where he was a logistics officer, battalion chief, and director of engineering and housing. From 1984 to 1986, Griffin commanded an engineering battalion at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and from 1986 to 1990, he was assigned to the Pentagon. Retiring from the military as a colonel in 1990, Griffin taught military science at Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State University, where he also was the offensive backfield coach for a football team that enjoyed two undefeated seasons and won back-to-back championships.

In 1994, running as a Democrat, Griffin was elected State Senator from the 25th Senatorial District of Georgia and was reelected in 1996. He sacrificed his Senate seat in 1998 to run for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, but lost. Griffin tried again for his old Senate seat in 2000, and was narrowly defeated by the incumbent in the primary election. Not discouraged, Griffin ran for Mayor of Milledgeville, his hometown and won in 2001. An accomplished businessman, Griffin is vice president of Slater Funeral Home in Milledgeville, a Griffin family owned business.

Accession Number

A2002.030

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/20/2002

Last Name

Griffin

Organizations
Schools

Mount Hill Baptist Church School

Carver Elementary School

Boddie High School

Tuskegee University

Florida Institute of Technology

Army Command and General Staff College

National War College

Oak Hill Middle School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Weekends

First Name

Floyd

Birth City, State, Country

Miledgeville

HM ID

GRI01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Teens, adults.

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $500 - $1,000

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Teens, adults.

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Exotic Places, Europe

Favorite Quote

Winners make it happen.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/24/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Millledgeville

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Steak, Turkey

Short Description

Colonel, mayor, and state senator The Honorable Floyd Griffin (1944 - ) was the first African American mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia as well as a former Georgia State Senator. Griffin also served twenty-three years in the military as a helicopter pilot and flight instructor in Vietnam, commander at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and at the Pentagon. He also taught military science at Wake Forest University.

Employment

United States Army

Slater Funeral Home

Georgia State Senate

City of Milledgeville, Georgia

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Gold, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Floyd Griffin interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Floyd Griffin's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Floyd Griffin describes his parents and their backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Floyd Griffin discusses his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Floyd Griffin shares memories of influential moments in his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Floyd Griffin describes his childhood community of Milledgeville, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Floyd Griffin recalls living conditions, black self-help and celebrations in his close-knit childhood community of Milledgeville

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Floyd Griffin describes himself as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Floyd Griffin remembers his elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Floyd Griffin recalls his elementary school years

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Floyd Griffin recollects high school teachers who influenced him

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Floyd Griffin lists his high school extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Floyd Griffin explains his decision to attend Tuskegee

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Floyd Griffin recounts his college experiences at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Floyd Griffin remembers Tuskegee students' involvement with the civil rights movement in the mid 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Floyd Griffin compares Georgia and Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Floyd Griffin reflects on his experiences at Tuskegee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Floyd Griffin describes his ambiguous feelings about his military career plans during the civil rights movements

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Floyd Griffin briefly discusses Julian Bond

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Floyd Griffin recalls his military career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Floyd Griffin talks about his career choices in the military

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Floyd Griffin recounts his service in Vietnam

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Floyd Griffin remembers his Army career after returning from Vietnam

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Floyd Griffin reminisces about his college football coaching career

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Floyd Griffin reflects on his military career and decision to retire

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Floyd Griffin reflects on how his military career affected him and the transition to civilian life

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Floyd Griffin lists his family members

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Floyd Griffin recalls his campaign for the Georgia state senate

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Floyd Griffin reflects on his two terms as a Georgia state senator

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Floyd Griffin recounts his campaign for mayor of Milledgeville

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Floyd Griffin talks about his priorities as mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Floyd Griffin describes the history of Milledgeville, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Floyd Griffin discusses his unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor of Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Floyd Griffin talks about his funeral home business

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Floyd Griffin explains his famous cowboy boots and cigar

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Floyd Griffin shares his hopes for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Floyd Griffin considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Floyd Griffin talks about his career choices in the military
Floyd Griffin recounts his campaign for mayor of Milledgeville
Transcript
Why didn't you choose the Air Force, though?$$Well, early on, you know, when I went off to college and as I was in the program, I didn't really think about it that much because, see, at Tuskegee [Institute, later Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama] at the time the Tuskegee Army program did not have a flight program. And I just didn't have any real desire to go in the Air Force at that, you know, at that point in time. I wanted to be an engineer, not a, an aviator. And I wanted to be out where the rubber meets the roads. You know, the Air Force was kind of a laid back, you know, situation and et cetera. And I, I felt I--for some reason I felt that I had a better opportunity to move up the career ladder in the, in the Army versus the Air Force. And my senior year, the Army got an ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps], got an Army flight program. And it was really too late for me to, to go through that, that program. So after I got in the Army after one year or so I decided I would see what happened and--. So and I, and I could do both. At that time you could be what we called, you had to be in a branch other than that, the flight program. So I was in the Corps of Engineers and I went off to flight school. So I was dual, and I ended up doing a little bit of both over a, a period of time before the Army--after Vietnam the Army went to a aviation branch. And I was a major then. I had been in the Army about twelve or thirteen years. And I had a choice of staying in the Corps of Engineers or going into the, into the aviation branch. And I decided to stay into the Corps because I didn't want to basically start over again in the aviation branch at the rank I was. I could have, but I just decided that was not in my best interest.$$So did you--you got shipped off to Vietnam after going to flight school?$$After going to flight school I spent a year in the, in the States, went back up in the Washington, DC, area for a year. And after that year I went back to a, a couple of courses, aviation course. I went through the instructor pilots' program. Then I went to Vietnam.$Now, your decision to run for mayor [of his hometown, Milledgeville, Georgia, in 2001]. How did that come about?$$Well, you know, after, after leaving the Senate, I ran for lieutenant governor, you know, and I was unsuccessful there. And, really, I ran for the Senate seat again that I held, and I (laughter), I lost that race, and that was a big surprise. But that's probably the, the best thing to happen. And I--there were a group of black women here in Milledgeville--encouraged me and beat me up and did everything else to convince me I needed to run for mayor. Because I, you know, although when I left the military my goal was to run for mayor, but after being back for a while and all I decided that it's really not what I wanted to do. But they encouraged me and they talked to me and they beat me up over the head and everything else, not literally, but talked me into, to doing it. And not only talked me into doing it, and after I decided to do it, they got out and, and was very, very supportive. Now there were black men also involved and there were whites involved. But I'm talking about the people who really, really came down and said now you gotta do this.$$Now, it was a, it was a hotly contested race, wasn't it?$$Yes, it was a hotly contested race, and it never should have been that way. Okay. Not especially after we got into the runoff. It was the incumbent and a, another white gentlemen who did not have any political experience at all, a local businessperson. And he and I ended up in the runoff. The incumbent didn't end up in the runoff. I needed ninety-, I think it was ninety-seven votes to win without a runoff. In the runoff I won by twenty-one votes. So you can see--you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see exactly what happened there. It turned out to be a total race-supported election with me getting more white votes than he got black votes. But it just became a racial divide thing, and it never should have been that way. And that's, if I had one, one of my greatest disappointments in being in politics, that's probably more disappoint-, disappointing than the, the losses I've had because it never should have been that way especially in the runoff because this young man, although he's a nice young guy and all that, but had no experience to come to the table against a person with my background and experience, which has been a successful political experience. And everybody here knows that. And the race come down to, to twenty-one, to twenty-one votes. It was quite disappointing.