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C. Virginia Fields

Legislator C. Virginia Fields was born on August 6, 1946 in Birmingham, Alabama to Peter Clark and Lucille Clark. Fields earned her B.A. degree in sociology from Knoxville College, located in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1967; and her M.S.W. degree in social work from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana in 1969.

Fields was active in the Civil Rights Movement as a teenager and marched with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham and spent six days in jail. After graduating from Indiana University, Fields moved to New York in 1970 to pursue a career in social work. She began her political career in 1981, when she was elected as chair of the Community Board 10 in New York City. Fields held that position until 1983. Fields was first elected to the New York City Council in 1989 as a representative of the 5th District. She was then re-elected to the New York City Council in 1993 as a representative of the 9th District. Fields served two terms as the president of the Manhattan Borough and was only the second African American woman to hold that position. She was also the highest ranking African American elected official at the time. Fields remained as president of the Manhattan Borough until her term ended in 2005. After her term as president ended, Fields became the first African American woman to run for mayor of New York City in 2006, although she lost in the Democratic Primary.

In addition to her political career, Fields was also active in her community. In 2008, she was appointed as president and chief executive officer of The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. Fields also served on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Region II Health Equity Council after being appointed by Governor David A. Paterson in 2011. In 2014, she was appointed by Governor Anthony Cuomo to the New York State’s Ending the AIDS Epidemic Task Force. She has also served on the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, Policy Committee and Public Justice Project Steering Committee. Additionally, Fields is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the Links Incorporated and Abyssinian Baptist Church.

C. Virginia Fields was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 11, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.086

Sex

Female

Interview Date

04/11/2017 |and| 12/8/2017

Last Name

Fields

Maker Category
Middle Name

Virginia

Occupation
Schools

Hudson Elementary School

George Washington Carver High School

Knoxville College

Indiana University School of Social Work

New York University

First Name

C.

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

FIE04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Barbados

Favorite Quote

I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/6/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Legislator C. Virginia Fields (1945 - )

Employment

National Black Leadership Commission On AIDS, Inc.

Office of Manhattan

New York City Council

Favorite Color

Pink

The Honorable Priscilla Taylor

Legislator Priscilla Taylor was born on December 31, 1949 in Fort Pierce, Florida. Taylor earned her B.S. degree from Barry University in Miami, Florida in 1997 and earned her M.B.A. degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1999.

Before attending Palm Beach Atlantic University, Taylor worked in the insurance industry and founded her own company. In 1999, Taylor was elected to public office for the first time as a commissioner for the Palm Beach County Commission. In that position, Taylor was integral to bring in the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the spring-training facilities for the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals baseball teams. She was re-elected twice and held the position of chairwoman in 2001 and 2003. Taylor was then elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2004, where she represented the 84th District of Florida. During her time in the House of Representatives, Taylor served as the Democratic Party Whip from 2004 until 2006. In 2009, she resigned from her seat in the Florida House of Representatives when Governor Charlie Crist appointed her to the Palm Beach County Commission. Taylor was re-elected to that position in 2010 and served until 2012. She was then appointed as mayor of Palm Beach County in 2014. Taylor campaigned for a seat in the United States House of Representatives in 2016.

Taylor was also active in a number of community organizations, including the Greater Palm Beaches Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc. Taylor also served as a board member for Columbia Hospital, the Criminal Justice Commission, the Epilepsy Foundation, and the Urban League. She served as the southeast director of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women as well.

Taylor was recognized for her service to the community through a number of awards and honors. She was the recipient of the Sojourner Truth Award and the A. Philip Randolph Institute’s Distinguished Legislative Service Award. Taylor was also named as one of the “25 Most Influential Black Women” by Success Magazine in 2006.

Taylor has two children, Vita and Sean.

Priscilla Taylor was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 11, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.072

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/11/2017

Last Name

Taylor

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Frances K. Sweet Magnet School

Lincoln Park Academy

Dan McCarty High School

Barry University

First Name

Priscilla

Birth City, State, Country

Fort Pierce

HM ID

TAY16

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Spain

Favorite Quote

It's Not Enough To Know The Right Thing To Do, It's Best To Do It Right.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

12/30/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Miami

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Legislator Priscilla Taylor (1949 - ) served on the Palm Beach County Commission for twelve years and became mayor of Palm Beach County in 2014

Employment

BellSouth Corporation

Grumman Aerospace Corporation

The Travelers Indemnity Company

Allstate Corporation

Priscilla Taylor Insurance Associates

Port of Palm Beach District Commission

Florida House of Representatives

Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Priscilla Taylor's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about her relationship with her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her family's occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes the personalities of her parents and maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor remembers Frances K. Sweet Elementary School in Fort Pierce, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about school integration in Fort Pierce, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her early experiences of religion

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor remember integrating Dan McCarty High School in Fort Pierce, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her experiences at Dan McCarty High School in Fort Pierce, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about her position at the BellSouth Corporation

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes how she came to work in the insurance industry

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about the discriminatory practices of the Allstate Corporation

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor remembers opening an insurance agency in Palm Beach County, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about her civic involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her experiences at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her role on the Port of Palm Beach District Commission, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her role on the Port of Palm Beach District Commission, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about her African American peers on the Port of Palm Beach District Commission

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about the results of the presidential election in 2000

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor recalls her campaign for the Florida House of Representatives

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about Florida's black legislators

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her work with the Innocence Project

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes the problem of wrongful convictions

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about Florida's stand your ground law, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about Florida's stand your ground law, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor remembers the election of President Barack Obama

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her position on the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about her accomplishments at the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about her accomplishments at the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes the ban the box initiative

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about the redevelopment of Belle Glade, Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor remembers her campaign for the U.S. Congress, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor remembers her campaign for the U.S. Congress, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about her political philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about her family

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

5$2

DATitle
The Honorable Priscilla Taylor describes her work with the Innocence Project
The Honorable Priscilla Taylor talks about her accomplishments at the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners, pt. 1
Transcript
Well, here's a variety of issues here that they're--that, that are on our outline. You were, you were on the House committee on insurance, business, financial affairs policy committee [Florida House Insurance, Business and Financial Affairs Policy Committee]; the Roads, Bridges and Ports Policy Committee [Florida House Roads, Bridges and Ports Policy Committee]; the Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee [Florida House Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee]; the policy council [Florida House Criminal and Civil Justice Policy Council]; and general governmental policy council [Florida House General Government Policy Council]; the Full Appropriations Council on General Government and Health Care [Florida House Full Appropriations Council on General Government and Health Care]; the Select Policy Council and the Strategic and Economic Planning Committee [sic. Florida House Select Policy Council on Strategic and Economic Planning]. So these are all the things that you kind of focused on. It was a pretty broad--$$It was broad--$$--set of--$$Right. Exactly.$$--issues.$$A lot of it are things that I, you know, were familiar with and touched on. But certain areas, though, that really gave me a little different look and feel, you know, because criminal justice was really one that I really then began focusing on. There are certain areas that I was sort of introduced to before that I didn't--I mean, there that I didn't--really wasn't aware--I mean, you know, you hear about burglaries and things. But that was when I was sort of introduced to the Innocence Project, and that was, you know, we had a few people who came through. I had never heard of the Innocence Project, and, I guess, we never think about people just going to--we, you know, being incarcerated for twenty or thirty years for things that they did not do. And I had a claims bill that I was working on, and the gentleman's name was Alan [ph.]; and he was from the Tampa [Florida], St. Pete area [St. Petersburg, Florida]. And we were trying to get him his money. Because after being in prison for twenty something years, it was determined that he did not commit the crime. And then I was introduced because the Innocence Project was really working to, you know, with him. And those, type things sort of, you know, kind of affected me a little bit to think of the injustices that people face. And, now, I did have a claims bill where there was a white gentleman whose name was Wilton Dedge who had been incarcerated wrongfully, and he got out. And I think they ended up giving him like $2 million, you know. But when Alan came along, who was black, it was--we couldn't get his money, you know. And it--$$So the state legislature [Florida House of Representatives] has to approve that the (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) We have to--yeah, you have sovereign immunity in, you know, in Florida. And you can only--local government can give up to two hundred thousand. After then it's a claims bill if it's a government agency, hospital or anything like that. And then it has to be approved by the state legislature. And so I was sort of working with one of the attorneys with the Innocence Project, and it was like both of us, he and I both, we could not believe that--what we were going through to get this money for this man who had been wrongfully incarcerated. And for me, I was looking at it even beyond that, in that we had just prior--previously approved all this money for this other guy, you know, who so happened to be white. And then you see the injustices that, you know, even though you know injustices exist, but this was front and center in a body that could have, to me, done the right thing. And so, you know, but I've signed up for the Innocence Project. I think, if I was an attorney, I would work for them, because I believe in what they do because there's just too many people wrongfully incarcerated.$$Now, tell us who's the--who are the leaders of the Innocence Project and--$$Well, actually, you know, they're attorneys who are the leaders, and I can't give you the exact names. I remember the guy name Scheck [Barry Scheck] who, actually, I think--I don't know if he was on O.J. Simpson's team, but he was--his last name was Scheck, and I know he's involved in the Innocence Project. I don't know if he was the founder or whatever, but, you know, it is--it is, you know, one that I began looking online and kind of keeping up with. Matter of fact, I signed up to get updates and things from them because they are doing something that's really beneficial, you know. Because, you know when your loved one or someone is locked up--$$Yeah.$$--for something they didn't do and you don't have the money and you file every way you can to get them out, then you get them out; and then they're still being wrongfully, you know, it's just mindboggling to me.$$So they basically lobby the state legislature to work with--$$They actually investigate--$$Okay.$$--the crime. You know, they go through the DNA, and they go through a lot of things that, you know, find out that evidence was withheld or evidence wasn't used that should have been used or they didn't talk to this per- you know, they just--they investigated. And a lot of it is volunteer, you know. So, you know, but it's, it's an organization that I think deserves, you know, to be supported.$Tell us about the commission [Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners]. Who's--what--who does it consist of; and what are the powers that you have?$$Well, you know, it's seven of us. And the thing about the Palm Beach County [Florida], is that it used to be where we did not have a black on that commission. The first person, the black, was Maude Ford Lee. And, you know, it took a lot of standing up, trying to get a minority. We had to actually create a different district. When you start--that's when we had the single member districting to try to assure that we had a black at all times on that commission. So, you know, but Maude was before me. And then, after Maude, Addie Greene came, and then I fulfilled Addie Greene's term. But, you know, we had Weisman [Robert Weisman], who was the administrator at the time. Because, you know, when your--the commission, you know, it's seven of you, and it takes, you know, a majority to get anything done. Your county administrator has a lot of power. He retired, and then I'm proud to say, then we have black woman who is county commissioner [sic. county administrator] now [Verdenia Baker]. First time we've ever had a black, period, as county commissioner, as well as female. But, you know, we're a very diverse community. And what I found when I got there was that there wasn't enough being done, paid to--there were just pockets of areas where I was concerned about. And so I started kind of fighting, you know, for those pockets to--those barriers to be taken down. You know, one of the areas that I really--and something that I still, you know, try to work on is poverty, you know, with the homelessness. I feel that, you know, here, in Flor- in the United States of America, we should not have the homeless population that we have, you know; that we need to do something to try to reach them. I started organizations, you know. I started the Mayor's Ball and things here to try to come up with funds to help the homelessness.$$Give us an idea now how big a problem this is, homelessness in Palm Beach County.$$Well, it's a, it's a big issue. Actually, it was such an issue that when I was in the legislature [Florida House of Representatives] I had received a call, because it was within my district [Florida State House of Representatives District 84], regarding some of the issues. You know, we had this church who took it upon themselves to try to house homeless people, you know, to take some of them off the street. And I can remember flying home just specifically to meet with the people there at the church. And I can remember this veteran who stood up and--because I was just letting everybody, you know, talk, tell me, you know, what--about what you think and everything. And he said something that really stuck to me, with me. He says, you know, he says, "We can send a man to the moon, but we can't take care of our homeless people, population," you know. And that--and you think about that. That's true. You know, we put all of this money and send up a rocket, which might explode, might not explode. You're sending money all over the world, but you have people here, domestically, who needs help; and we're not focusing our energies there. But since then, you know, we've tried to focus on affordable housing here, in Palm Beach County, and other areas to try to help. And like I said, the Mayor's Ball, which the first year I did it, I think we came out with about five hundred thousand [dollars] profit, so we could use that money to try to help, you know.