“There was a lot of opposition to me, and a lot of nervousness on my part,” Crew said. “It was tough for them to go out in the community and sell me.”
Odom, who has been around since the city’s early days, said that even as the council considered multiple candidates for the position, she told her colleagues, “I think you guys need to take another look at the white boy.”
The City Council eventually approved his hire with a 4-3 vote.
Crew would face public scrutiny again after his side passion of collecting and writing about suffrage and American historical sheet music — including music from the Ku Klux Klan — became public knowledge.
“I collect old piano sheet music and I have one of the largest collections in the nation,” Crew said. “People got up at the council meetings and said since he wrote a book on the Klan he must be a member.”
Eventually, the city and community came to accept him and, as he leaves, Crew said he’ll keep himself busy by continuing to pursue his passion for historical music.
He is finishing his second doctorate degree at the University of Sunderland, in England, studying American political music history online in the culture department. He plans to travel to the country to give his oral defense in January.
“I’m glad to be where I am. My contract would have taken me through the end of July but at some point the city needs to move forward,” said Crew.
He has not ruled out a return to municipal government, but said if he does return he’d like to go to central Florida, the area he thinks represents “the old Florida.”