Lee Volpe sat down with Henry Lawrence for a three hour interview at Primo-Ristorante in Sarasota, Florida on April 2, 2014 to Henry’s past, present and future activites!
Sunday, February 3, 2014, Super Bowl weekend, Henry Lawrence was in New York when he officially began his Candidacy for US House of Representatives – Florida District 16.
The National Democratic Party advised Henry during his visit that it would take between four and five million to run a political campaign. Based on the campaigns in St. Petersburg, FL, fourteen million was spent in a five to six month period between the Republicans and the Democrats.
“I’m being very realistic about this. I’m not trying to match funds for funds, because we would never be able to succeed at that. I have the Primary coming up and right now that is my primary objective. So that’s what my concern is now, to get past the Primary.”
Henry Lawrence’s main purpose is to reach out to the people, which is something he’s been doing for the last forty years.
Q- From the fields early on in life as a migrant worker, an All-American football player, NFL Offensive Lineman with the Oakland Raiders, three time Super Bowl champion, two Pro Bowl’s, Florida Sports Hall of Fame, singer, actor, business owner, philanthropist, motivational speaker, and the list continues, it seems a natural progression that politics would be in your future. Have politics always been an interest for you?
A- “That’s a two-edge kind of question because my answer would be ‘no’, but actually my major in college was Political Science with a minor in Economics.”
“I went to college with the plan to go to Law School, so I had no inclination at all of playing football in the NFL. I didn’t even relate to it. It just happened that God blessed me with the ability to do something.”
Unexpectedly, on September 26, 1951, impatient and determined, Henry Lawrence was born early in Danville, PA, while his family was traveling from Florida doing migrant work. Growing up in a family of six children, Henry traveled the whole eastern shore from Florida – north. He believes the work in the fields with his family from the time he was a baby big enough to walk, brought out his competitive side. “I’ve always competed. I wanted to pick more tomatoes, more potatoes, apples and oranges…”
Until his sophomore year in college, Henry continued doing physical migrant farm work. After Mr. Lawrence became involved with the Raiders and during his time as a player, he got back into the business, but as a farmer in Manatee County.
“Everybody does something and that’s what we did.” Henry’s parents and family have all been involved in migrant work in one way or another. After school in sixth grade Henry would work at a local Palmetto packing house from four o’ clock till two or three in the morning. He worked there in seventh grade as well.
Whenever Henry came home, he’d stopped by to see his old boss. On one of those visits, Henry asked if he ever knew how old he was when he worked for him. “What were you, about seventeen, eighteen?’ First year I went to work for him I was eleven years old! I was big; I was like one hundred and ninety-five pounds in sixth grade.” Henry would always work. “I used to put money in cans and save it, help my mom, that’s what my older brother did; everybody worked, chipped in.”
Q- “Together we will rebuild that American dream for everyone in this great nation.” How do you plan on fulfilling “the dream” with your run as a candidate for United States Congress?
A- “We say ‘together’ because one person is not going to be able to do it, but it has to start with one, at least one. I think what we’re missing now is people just caring; they’re not showing that they care for us – the citizens in this country. We get so wrapped up in what the ‘Party’ wants, that they aren’t considering what the country needs, what the people need. We are going from one extreme to the other; there are fallacies, I think, on both ends of the spectrum.”
Henry Lawrence feels there must be more attention focused on, “what this country needs.” After the financial disasters suffered over the years, Henry’s intention is to “get people that know their stuff, but also get people that are listening, that are willing to try and help cure this thing. It’s like a black hole, and that hole keeps getting deeper and blacker.”
“How do you move past it? First of all, we got the greed; the greed has to be dealt with. They cut our military, our soldiers, take away their benefits, but at the same time they continue to give themselves raises. How do you justify all this stuff? Our soldiers, who risked their lives, come back here facing bankruptcies, foreclosures, losing their homes, ending up on the streets….these are our veterans. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know we need to start trying to find some of the answers.”
As a traveling migrant farmer back in the nineteen fifty’s, sixty’s, and seventy’s, Henry dealt with racism and segregation. His high school closed his junior year and when senior year began in the Fall, Henry Lawrence was in the first integrated class at Manatee High. Now sixty-two, Henry claims to have “seen the whole spectrum of it. I’ve seen the black man being disrespected, but I’ve seen the white man being disrespected. It’s not about racism right now; it’s about discrimination, treating people right, being fair with people.”