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Title: Interview with Elias Rogers
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Title: Interview with Elias Rogers
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: Lumbee County (Fla.)
 Notes
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00007008
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Lumbee County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: LUM 14A

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    Copyright
        Copyright
    Interview
        Page 1
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        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
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        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
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        Page 16
        Page 17
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        Page 19
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        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
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COPYRIGHT NOTICE


This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Florida.

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be
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For all other permissions and requests, contact the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida





















INTERVIEWER: LEW BARTON
AUGUST 24, 1972
MR AND MRS. ELIAS ROGERS


I: Mr. Rogers, this is in Hoke County; the county adjoining

Robeison. I understand this used to be what they called

upper Robelson. And it was cut off from Robeason -in 1911.

Reverand Rogers is a minister. You are also a farmer?

S: No, sir. I am a paint contractor.

I: You are a paint contractor, I see. And you are a Lumbee Indian?

S: Yes.

I: We wanted to talk to you today about anything you want to talk
A
about. Maybe we should mention your adventures or your misadventures

or your troubles, whatever in connection with the Lumbee River Co-op.

What is the full title of that organization Mr. Rogers?

S: Lumbee River Electric Membership Cooperative.

I: I see. And your position with that firm?

S: I am on the Board of Directors.

I: I see. I would like to ask you before we get into this some

biographical information. How old are you?

S: I am forty-four this November.

I! How many are there in your family?

S: A total of three--a wife and one daughter. She is married. So ItO

Mary and myself are presiding alone.







i.Um /I/4 2



I: That makes it a little lonely, doesn't it?

S: Yes sir, it really do. Of course, it is just a little way

across the field there--we are still involved with our grand-

children.

I: What is your daughter's name?
Carol
S: er-l1yn Rogers Epps. She married an Epps, Varcy Lee Epps.

I: Who was Mrs. Rogers before you and her married?

S: She was a Davis, daughter of Will Davis out on 30 Street Road,

east of Wilmet-on.

I: I see. How long have you been married?

S: Approximately 24 years.

I: I think that's great. How long have you lived here?

S: We have been here; this year.I believe will be seven years.

I: Where were you born Mr. Rogers?

S: I was born in Robegson County.

I: Where dd you attend school?

S: I attended school in the Cherokee Chapel and Prospect, and an old

school that finally closed, used to be called Hopewell.

I: Schools are still changing, aren't they?

S: Right.

I: I wanted to talk to you about the Lumbee Co-op. I think this is 0

very important story. And it will interest many of our listeners
some gu/
becauselof the things that happened are almost unbelievable yet I
A
know they are true. But it is hard to believe that you go through

such sort of things and it seems to me simply because you're a

Lumbee Indian. How many, have you any idea how many members of

this organization are Lumbee Indians?

S: There was a slight interview run on this some year ago. There was

estimated to be about 35% at that time that were Lumbee Indians.






I-afn /1iA 3




Of course, we feel sure that there are a lot more than that now.

I: This organization, of course, is owned by the people it serves.

S: It is owned by its members.

I: And itSta founded by the federal government?

S: Right, under the United States Department of Agriculture.

I: I see. And when did you first run for elected office in this

organization?

S: In 1967, I became interested in a seat on the Board of Directors,

due to the fact of the treatment we were getting on the line as

members. And at the time, we had no representation on the Board

of Directors and it seemedall the members were white and none of

them were even interested in talking to us, or assisting us with

the problems we had in getting electricity so I became interested

in running for a position and at the time of I kLg=r- l9ft at 1967,

the annual meeting for the members was hefd over in Lumberton.

And ba Jacobs and myself got together and he agreed to nominate

me from the floor.

I: And this was a fellow Lumbee Indian.

S: Right. So we attended the meeting that day and he nominated me

from the floor as a write-in candidate. And the people that were

attending the meeting it seemed were a little -------------b-ecause

of the fact that somebody other than a white was becoming interested

in a director's position.

I: There weren't any black positions either?

S: No sir.







lIAM I/A 4



I: About how many Lumbee Indians and black members combined would

you say would deplete--do you think that makes up 1r a majority

of members?

S: Yes sir. There are at least 65 or 70% that are Indians and blacks

together.

I: So you were really in the minority, I mean in the majority and still

had no representation of either of these groups.

S: That's right.

I: Excuse me for interrupting. You decided to try to do something

about that. Would you go on from there?

S: Yes sir. At this particular occasion, actually, I was nominated

from the floor. It was strictly a surprise to them because nothing

like this had ever happened before in the 30-year history of Lumbee

,leetins. They ad always controlled it that were the whites. So

therefore after I was nominated from the floor, it was a surprise to

them and they didn't have any time to do any planning eventually,

because I was nominated from the floor. So officially, I was actually

elected. But I was declared illegally defeated. So I began to protest

the electionthat day.

I: Now who 'td declare you illegally defeated?

S: Well, they declared me defeated that day on the grounds of the way

we voted our ballots.

I: And you say this was illegal.

S: Right. That was illegal because we were --- --a correct ballot.

I: Right.

S: It so happens there were one of the members that folded up one of

the ballots and with the actual way we voted them and put them in







LuUYI 1^fA 5


his pocket and brought it home and so the next day, he was

certainly aware that he did have one of the ballots. So after

I became, had the knowledge of this, I managed to get the ballot

from him and took it over to Federal Observer and had a picture

of the ballot printed in the pepper, the way that we voted the

ballot. And, at the same time, I consulted somelegal assistance

in this. At that time, our attorney was from out of Raiford.

Harrison was the attorney for the co-op, so he advised me to

contact the attorney general in Raleigh, North Carolina for

all of the co-ops. So his name was William Crisk. So after he

was notified of what took place of what had took place over here

on November, 1967. He read a story about it in the paper and

also saw a picture of the ballot that I had published in the paper,

of the way we voted our ballots.

I: And you published this picture to show that.

S: Right! So after this, then we contacted Judge Clark from Federal,

who at that time had resigned from the judgeship. And had went back

to practicing,law. And also he notified Timberly from Lumberton.

I: This was an attorney?

S: Right. To come over to the REA, the following week and sit in with

them in a board meeting, to see if they couldn't reach some decision

upon his advice. His advice was, according to the attorney, to re-

count the ballots. And our ballots were marked as we had shown the

picture of in the paper. Then, by all means, if I had more ballots,

then the candidates that I was d who at that time, was Mrs.

Andrews, that is the wife of --------Andrews here inWEj County, but

they had no other alternatives except put to seat me on the Board












or set the whole election aside and order a new election. And

he notified them that upon taking this step, that they not only

could stand to lose one seat, but hee as well, because according

to his advise, he was very much aware that the blacks and Indians

did hold a majority of the membership of the co-op. And so they

recounted the ballots ; a e250 ballots cast in

my favor as a right-in candidate. And Mrs. Andrews, with her name

printed previously on the ballot only came up with 151. So, there-

fore, they decided to seat me on the board as a director under his

advice. He advised them, that if I filed suit in court, upon these

conditions, definitely, I would win the case. So, he didn't want

any publicity stirred up on the matter on this account. So, therefore,

he advised them Althe state-wide attorney for all of the co-ops

in North Carolina to seat me on the board so they did so. And for

two one half years, I sit on the Board and at that time, one of our

directors who were acting as secretaries for the co-op, and was

secretary and his name was Cecil Bnam, who now is the president of

the co-op. He sit on that board for two one half years as a director
A
and never one time spoke to me.

I: During the entire time.

S: During the whole, entire time.
04
I: Do you think this was because of his resentment a an Indian# d
S: Right. Because my attorney stated to me that he overheard him say

that there wasn't a d-a-m Indian-that had sense enough to operate













a $5 million corporation.

I: This is C-e-c-i-l D-u-n-n the name of the man who we just spoke of.

And, so, you were the first Lumbee Indian, the first non-white .

S: The first nonwhite in the history of the co-op to be seated on the

board.

I: Although no whites owned the majority of the business even today.

What other problems did you encounter? How about the rest of the

IPes, how did they treat you?

S: Well, the rest of the members basically spoke to me whenever we

went to a board meeting, but that was it. Cecil Dunn himself never

did attend a national convention during the time I was on the board

as a director. This was because he stated to the other directors

if I was going to attend, he wasn't interested in going wih you-

lknow-what Indian. So he never attended a national convention the

whole time I was on the board. So I came back up for reelection in

1970, I was aware that something of the same order might happen again.

I: And did it?
-r
S: Definitely, it did. But in a much worse way than it did to begin

with.

I: Would you describe that to us?

S: Because they had time to plan, because I was already on the board,

and they knew I was coming up for reelection so at this time,

Cecil Dunn,himsel th secretary of the co-op, was in a position to

record all of the proxies or register all of the proxies that might

come in against any other candidate or for any candidate because

the bylaws state that no one member is authorized to vote more than

five proxies in no one election. And any given proxy must be designated







A liA 8


by the individual in their own signature who is to vote the proxy.

So Cecil, as I say, being the secretary of the co-op, the bylaws

state that any proxy must be registered with the secretary three

days prior to the election in order for this proxy to be voted or

to be considered eligible to vote on the day of election. So, he
a s l 7 'l o
being an individual that would almost empower the co-op at this

time and he is very, very much involved politically. He was almost

forced in the co-op to order 75-80% ve their tools from Mills Power

Supply.

I: This is a company that furnished supplies?

S: Right. And Mills Power Supply, I understand by some reliable

"witnesses who sa some checks that were -e-----from Mills Power

Supply, coming back to Cecil Dunn in the amount of $500 and another

in the amount of $200. We feel like this was because of Cecil

forcing the co-op to order the majority of their tools from Mills

Power Supply. So they were furnishing him back something in return.

I: Let's see. That Mills Power Supply. That's M-i-l-1 P-o-w-e-r.

Supply. Where was this firm at?

S: I am sorry, at this time, I do'ac, know where it is located. All I

know is the name of the firm.

I: Well, I didn't mean to interrupt you there. But I forget things that

I am supposed to ask you. And I am so interested.

S: At the time being, Cecil decided to apply even a little more pressure.

So he goes down to the personnel department, and our manager at that

tim k,. J. Dawton. The authority of this power they had seen

extrasized before in the future where it had been a proven fact that

two more directors previously to this had bucked Cecil on two different

occasions. And when they came up for reelection, Cecil claimed up












with some more directors and illegally gathered property and got

rid of them off the board. fven the manager at that time was afraid

not to g along with Cecil in this oY he was about to pull. And

that was to go out and have 82,500 deres printed as his own

out of his own pocket. And they were printed right here in this

little printing press in Red Springs)and he called a special meeting

and had John Little and Urban Ger and Leland Watson, Dina Mcmermick,

and several of the Lions men and also Robert Curry at the meeting.

And demanded that these Lions men go out on company time and get at

least 100 of these properties signed to vote against me on the ed

of -ne s Or otherwise, they didn't need to come to work the

following Monday morning, because they didn't have any job.

I: They would be fired.

S: So when they found out about this, they naturally wanted *e job,

so they didn't have any choice, knowing what his power was, except

to go out and try to get this job done. So they went out, and they

tried, I am sure with a lot of effortaccording to their own testimonies,

to get the proxy signed, but in they failed. Again, the proxy

was supposed to be registered with the secretary three days prior

to the election.

I: The secretary of the co-op?

S: Right. Right, who is, Jca s Cecil Dunn at that time. They could

not come up with the amount of proxies that they thought it might

take to beat me in the election. By Friday afternoon, on closing

day before November 4, 1970, when this election took place. So

they even worked on the proxies the following Monday. This was a






10



violation of the bylaws. The ii-otmen worked on the property

the following Monday. And trying to get some more signed, they

also worked on them the following Tuesday.

I: The day was past.

S: Right. The day was past thetqlegal day. Wednesday came, the day

of election, and they were still short of getting 100 p ES

each signed by some member in order for them to be eligible to vote

And on the day of election, Cecil was standing out in front of the

building and Fred bbirngs, who is a 4ns man, went up to Cecil and
-A
told him "Cecil, I got a problem." He said what's the trouble?

"Well, all my men that I had designated 'to vote these proxies today,

didn't show up." So Cecil says just right out of the blueto Fred

Bbb-as, "Well, what the hell do you expect me to do about it?" A/ /
/ i? s{ fq1
Sr T kJ, He said what do you want me to do? He said, "I don't give a

you know what just as long as'long as you get in there and get

them voted." So he states to me that he had to go in there and

vote 35 himself in order to get them voted, or either he would have

lost his job.

I: In other words, he used other names?
A
S: Right. Well, he had 35 proxies left of this 100 that he had that

he hadn't gotten anybody to sign. And he had to fill in peoples'

names on these proxies and also vote em. In order to come up with

this 100 he had been tallied to get. After this, I had A nominated

committeemen, who was working in my behalf, Mr. -Robert Bullard, who

owned and operated at that time Bullard's ". in *aLk County, side
J/. A
of 211, went in with'k to count the ballots. And they began to

count the ballots. He stated to me after the election, "Preacher











they had you beat befr-e you came over here." I said what do.

you mean? He said, "I would rather not spell out wordsat

this time." But he said they disregarded at least 150 of your

ballots a few minutes ago that were actually marked and voted

right. So this is why I began a protest and in the meantime,

I had a girl standing at the door who was keeping record of the

attending whites on the day of election. And there were only

97 attending whites that came in and voted that day. And out

of the 97 attending whites, they came up with 870 ballots cast

in their favor.

I: Boy, they sure did have voting power.

S: As far as I'm concerned, they had stealing power. Meantime,

when I found this out, I came back to Raiford the same afternoon,

and I consulted legal assistance in this from the office of

Phillip and Moses who is George's attorneys in Raiford; this is

Modes and Deal Firm so I obtained the services of Phillip A.

Deal as my attorney.

I: D-e-a-1

S: Right. And he advised me at this time to go over the following day

and notify first the attorney of a protest and then go to the office

at Lumbee River Electric Membership Cooperative and also advise the

marger of a protest. So this I did on November 5th of 1970, the

following day after the election. So while I was sitting there in

the office of the manager, and already notified the attorney who
A 41e
was McMenus Firm in Red Springs who is still attorney for the co-op.

My wife and I came out of the manager's office; he had already

came out to the REA. He and Gayle Boyles and Cecil Dunn was in

the conference room at the REA and had all the proxies poured

out on the table, the conference table and they were sorting them
there so we took it for granted







^ 12



that they were trying to get these proxies to balance because

they realized that they a fraud had been committed and they had

to smother it out or cover it up some way. So my wife and I left

there and we came on back home and I went back and talked to the

attorney again and he advised me to find out from what source that

this co-op got their financial assistance, and:ask them if there was

any way that we could get an investigation from one of their departments.

So I came back home and I found out through my own information that

they were financed under the Department of Agriculture, from National

Headquarters in Washington, D.C.; it is 2000 Florida Avenue is the

address. So I went to Pe n ro e that night and had Dalton Brooks

to type me up a letter and explain primarily what had took place

on the day of elections and request and investigation from the

Department of Agriculture. weeks later I received a

letter from the Department of Agriculture advising me that they had

received my letter and had turned it over to the Office of Equal

Opportunity. So approximately a week later, I received another

letter from the Department of Agriculture telling me that there

would be an investigation conducted from out of the office of the

Attorney General in Atlanta, Georgia. So about a month later or

two months later, in other words it was sometimes in April of the

following year. One day a Mr. e- Moses knocked on my door and

identified himself as an agent of the office of the inspector general

of the Department of Agriculture l Atlanta, Georgia and asked if

my name was Elias Rogers and I stated *ta it was. And he said that

he had been sent in here as a agent to investigate my complaint.

So he came in my front room and sit down and interviewed me and







S113


in the interview, he asked me what happened primarily. And I

explained to him as I have to you, after which he asked me if

I knew of few homes of these offices that I had working there

for me that day that I would go with him to and talk to. And

I told him I did. So I went with him to my sister's home,

I went with him to Cherry Lynn Sp 's home, and I also with
/ lea 4r
him to Mr. Herbert ReacewdQ home and also to Miss Ovealia
4/Ur IT
AlRe&r who of all these people I had nominated that day

as my office to assist me on the floor on the day of election.

And they had stated to me particularly about catching CecilL

Dunn at the ballot box and marked twelve ballots himself and

placed them in the ballot box. So after this, I had no other

alternative but -aep tire protest l the ebetion. So then

following the investigation of the federal government, under

the Department of Agriculture, they began to write the REA and

demand that they do something about this complaint because they
/1
found racial discrimination, illegal ----?-ti of proxies,

2500 of them, and there were approximately 2500 of the illegal

proxies that were voted, on the day of election yet all of these,

being illegal proxies yet were used against me in the ekltion and

was declared by the whole board as legal proxies.

I: That's the local board?

S: Right. right. So after which, the federal government wrote me

a fr letter stating that I would hear something from them

after they had consulted with the Board of Directors after they

had consulted with the Board of Directors at the Lumbee f-'---

Elected Membership Cooperative. And at the same time, we received
of the co-op
copies of the letters that they sent to the managerat that time








ip Ai 14

who was B. J. ewea and they advised the co-op that their

fund had been cut off from Washington, due to the fact of this

illegal election had been held. And they could not receive

any more funds from Washington D.C. until they had at least

if they wouldn't reseat me on the Board, then they had one

other alternative, and that was to increase the size of the

board and still give me the first chance to get back on the

board as a director because at that time, I hd been the peoples'

choice. And if I refused this position, then they another

alternative and that was to consult another Indian and also two

blacks and seat them on the board, before they could ever receive

any more operating funds out of Washington, D.C. So, after several

trips by theT to Washington and also three different trips by my-

self, they decided to seat me on the board as director at large

and there aetftn order of the federal government.

I: And that is the position you hold now?

S: Right. A director at large. So now instead of just representing

somebody from District 6 as I once had been when I was on in '67,

'68, and'69, now I represent Robertson, Scotland, Cumberland, and

dph so long as he's an REA member and he ha problems if he comes

to me, then it is in my jurisdiction to squeal about it. But before,

I could not do this. I could only represent somebody in my particular

area who, uh, was District 6. So my attorney stated to me under the

advice of Bill Paine out of Washington, D.C. who is the assistant

agent under the Civil Rights Department. Jacob Slick is the commissioner








15


and Bill Paine is the assistant commissioner.on civil rights.

But from the advice of Bill Paine, we decided to accept this

position on the board as a director at large, because he stated

to us that be had nothing whatsoever to do with us filing a

second suit against REA for our damages we had had and also any

punitive damages we might feel we were entitled to.

I: That brings us up to the present, doesn't it?

S: Right, right.

I: So yesterday was the beginning of another phase and would you tell

us about that?

S: Well, at the same time, as I was about to state, we were advised,

my attorney and myself, by the Civil Rights Department in Washington

D.C., feri Jacob Slick and Bill Paine. They thought we ought to

have another attorney involved in this situation. And if possible,

an attorney that might be a little more familiar with the Civil

Rights Act instead of just a criminal lawyer. Now the first lawyer

that I had obtained the services of was just primarily a criminal

lawyer. And now, William C. Geiger is also supposed to be familiar

with civil rights acts. So we obtained his services some three

months ago in this case. And he states to us that basically the

reason because this case haven't been filed in court til now is

due to the fact that the first civil right law was passed in 1890,

when slavery was freed. And he wanted to have ample time to go back

and trace the laws on civil rights and bring himself up to date on

this particular case, because the first civil right law under the

Department of Agriculture was passed in 1964. So he wants to bring







16




himself up to date in the civil rights' acts in this case.

For that reason, he stated, is why we hadn't filed a-c second

suit in court until yesterday. But now he thought he was ready

to go and he informed us last week and we set up an appointment

Wednesday afternoon, August 23rd for the preparing of our suit,

the filevf analysis, and also the filing of the case in federal

court.

I: In the federal building?

S: Right. Over in in the clerk's office. So we went over

there yesterday afternoon; and after, we were informed of the

marshall fees;a te court fees at that particular time, totaled

up to $515 and they also stated to us that if the U.S. marshall

came out to serve these supoenas and had to make more than one

trip to find these individuals, that the cost could run a lot more

than that. So, in other words, we did have to put this up though.

And after this, our case was filed in the federal court. And

the amount of the case, minus the damages, is $8,656 and we are

also filing suit for punitive damages for $250,000, which totals

the case to $258,656 so that l1 up to date on that as to where we

are today.

I: And of course your attorney feels you have a good chance of winning.

S: Yes sir. They say that it's going to take a whole lot of wiggling

and a whole lot of pressure too. They don't see any possibility

that we could lose the case.

I: Well, you had to do a lot of traveling and you ...

S: Well, basically, I have had approximately 356 hours of my time ,

up to this last January involved in this thing, not including

anything from January to where I am at now. 18,500 miles involved








S17



in it;$2100 in cash.

I: This is not mentioning what you had to raise yesterday.

S: No sir, not mentioning what I had to raise yesterday. Not

mentioning anything I have spent on gasoline and mileage from

January till now.

I: Do you think this is characteristic of the justice the Lumbee

Indians receive in thspart of the country?

S: Well, Lumbee Indians, I really feel that it is. The, uh, have

always been put on ever since I have been here or had the know-

legge to realize anything. And due to the fact that the white

man has had more power when they got to court then the Lumbee

Indian did. They have always seemed to be the type of people

that would back off before they got to court. But in this par-

ticular instance, I have stated from the beginning that I was

going to see it through even though it caused me to full time.

I am still determined and even more determined tonight than I

was in 1967.

I: Well, you have certainly come a long way in quest of justice and if
^/s. soys
this story sees anything, it s.4es as justice does indeed come

hard for Lumbee Indians. It seems that this is what it is supposed

to be anyway. And I know a less-determined man, a less-dedicated

man, a less-patient man, a less-knowledgeable man, would have given

up the fight long, long ago. But you've stuck it out for some rea-

son. Would you mind telling us why you stuck it out?

S: Well, basically, Mr. Barton, it is because I have looked from way

back in my early life and have saw so many of our people who could








( l~ 18



have accomplished something had they went forward. But they

backed up and lost. And due to this fact, I felt like at least

somebody had to make a start someplace 'or that reason, if for

nothing else, I mean to see it through.

I: Well, you certainly have datssed to date. And, I'm not a lawyer,

but it certainly looks good from my point of view---your chance of

success. What has been the reaction of other people, did they try

to reach you through other people and persuade you to call the case

off or to compromise or .

S: Well, according to a statement from my attorney yesterday, Mr. Clark

over in Feera who representing the co-op in this case, when it

was supposed to went to court in May. This was to seek, to set

aside the election and a new election reordered under the supervision

of the courts. We had filed that case in court and then before the

case got to court, the federal government seated me back on the board

and my attorney advised me that it didn't make sense to carry this

case on to court when we already had what we were seeking for when

we got to court. So for that reason, when we got to court, we just,

this case was -----------and all the board directors and the

employees of the co-op. The story came out in the paper the next

day that everything has been resolved. They just took it for

granted everything was over. But I think this story in the news-

paper today will set them aware that that's not quite true.

I: Right. I wish--do you have a copy of that paper that came out?

S: Yes. But it's in the car. I will get it.








tA 19



I: I had better cut the machine off if .

Mr. Rogers, now that w have the paper of which carries the

story about t-s case, could you tell which paper this is and

the date and all and the contents of this story.

S: Yes, this is the Federal Observer that carried the story today.

And Thursday, August 24 on Section B.

I: That Section, B, is that page number B-l?

S: Right. B is the second page of the story of the paper.

I: Right. Second section.

S: And the headlines of the story is "Rogers Files Damage Suit

Against Co-op" "Elias Rogers emboiled in a battle conferred

controversy for two years for being given a seat on the Board

of Elections, Membership Cooperative has filed a $258,000 damage

suit against the co-op. Rogers, a Lumbee Indian who said he was

a victim of racial discrimination in being denied a seat on the

board of the Lumbee River Elected Membership Cooperative, asked

for $8,500 in actual damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.

In his suit filed in U. S. District Court here Wednesday afternoon,

Rogers struggle for a seat on the board ended in April when the

U. S. Department of Agriculture after an investigation of the case,

ordered the cooperative to seat him. The suit filed under the

civil rights act of 1914 constitutes that the defendants employees

of the Co-op conspired to deny him a seat on the Board of Directors

because of his race. Rogers charged he was defeated for reelection
Ltt
to the foard by the irregular use of proxy votes. He was running

for reelection at the time, November, 1970. Rogers continues in







20


his suit Wednesday that Cecil Dunn, that's C-e-c-i-l, Cecil,

D-u-n-n Dunn, President of the co-op engaged an effort whereby

hundreds of f---- proxies votes were printed to insure he

would not be reelected to the board. He further contends that

the employees of the co-op were threatened with dismissal if

they did not go along with the scheme. The employees were given

the f h/--ballots and told to obtain signatures from individualf-'

subscribers of the co-op. Rogers continues:X suit further charges

that on election day, persons who were not members of the co-op

were recuperated by Dunn, given membership, and by proxy vote,

SIDE TWO: cast by Rogers was defeated in the election by one of the defendants
p.
named in the suit, W. 0. McDiarmid Rogers also alleged that the

defendant conspired to defeat a black candidate for the board,

Thomas W. Bethea."(Now that is spelled T-h-o-m-a-s Thomas W. B-e-

t-h-e-a.)

I: McDiarmid, we didn't spell that name.

S: That's, M-c-D-i-a-r-m-i-d."The defendants in the suit are the cooperative

itself, Dunn, and McDiarmid (I have already spelled), Neill A. Watson

(That's N-e-i-l-1 A. W-a-t-s-o-n) and D. J. ialton (That's D. J. 9-a-

1-t-o-n), general manager of the cooperative, Robert W. Currie (That's

R-o-b-e-r-t W. C-u-r-r-i-e), Irwin Currie (I-r-w-i-n C-u-r-r-i-e);

Gail Boyles (that's G-a-i-1 B-o-y-l-e-s), and Genevive Edens (that's

G-e-n-e-v-i-v-e E-d-e-n-s). The agriculture department, after in-

vestigating the case, ordered that the bylaws of the corporation be

amended to increase the size of the board from 9 to 12 members. Roger's

term will expire in 1974 after which the seat will be filled by

election establishments staggering terms. When following his action

and following this actual damages, Rogers estimates he has spent 356

man hours investigating his case and gathering evidence." So ends the







S21



the story in the Observer up to date; that is, August 24.

I: L11I certainly congratulate you on your courage and I appreciate so

much this interview because this will let people know who are

outside the area and who are interested in our people, the Lumbee

Indians of North Carolina as we are officially known. This will

give them some idea to some of the injustices that exist toward

our people and that some of tbei4 people, o ,gtt, at last, go 4to

bat in trying to rectify these Sometimes e give in because we
/
are easy-going people, don't you think?

S: That's true.

I: And do you think the only way to do this is to protest it and to

take legal action and see that these things are corrected whatever

the sacrifice or the cost?

S: Right.

I: Rever d Rogers did I ask you your name, I mean you age?

S: Yes sir, 44.

I: Right. And are you pastor of the church?

S: Yes sir. I am pastor of a church that are in process of building

about three miles southwest of Red Springs, on what is called the

--- --Maxton Road.

I: And you got your education at Prospect?

S: Right.

I: P-r-o-s-p-e-c-t. How far did you go in school?

S: I only went to the 6th grade education.

I: Well, you have certainly have gone a long, long way beyond that; I

can assure you. I am sure you have improved your education at home

and in many other ways. Thank you for this time, because this is

valuable; this is important. It is important that our white brothers







22



and our black brothers in other areas of the country know about

these injustices because we know we have friends throughout the

Uhited States and wherever, this account is read or listened to,

perhaps, we will lend some sympathy anddetermination that law

and justice reaches all our people, whatever their race or their

color. Again I congratulate you and thank you so much for your

time. You have given me this time even though you were busy and
-{o 00, aft,
you are now ready to take care of an emergency and
A
S: Mr. Barton I would just like to make one final statement here.

There is a mystery to me in all this case up to now as to why we

were, tried so hard, to get assistance out of the department of

justice. But yet, at this point, we have not been able to get any

due to the fact we don't know why. We have notified them on three

different occasions and yet, this co-op basically drawed up under the

laws and organized under the laws rather.of the state of North

Carolina. But yet, I have went to the Department of o Justice

and have gave them a complete story on the action of what happened.

And yet, as of this date, I still haven't heard anything from the

department of justice. It seems to me that a person who goes to

the justice department and really needs help, they are entitled to

it, yet they don't seem to be able to get any. S

I: This is too bad.

S: Many times you have to fight these cases alone.

riTVOellL/ *YIoL .4
I: Well, I believe in justice and I believe with you, that justice
A
will be yours, that you will find complete justice, although we

know, as I said in the first part of this tape, you have exhibited

determination and patience and all these things. It is very sad

that it takes this kind of thing to get justice, but I have faith









\ 1 23



in our system, that somehow you will win this case.

S: Oh, I believe that; if I hadn't, I would have definitely would

have give up before now. But no matter what the consequences is,

if I have to work for 25 years to pay these attorney fees. I

still intend to go through with it.

I: Well, that certainly an admirable spirit and I am sure your efforts

will be rewarded. As for myself, I will make a special effort to

bring it the attention to one department of the federal government

in Washington. I am planning a phonmcal on another matter tomorrow.

I will certainly mention this and maybe this will get through to

the justice department because I have a lawyer friendI am going

to see. And I sympathize with you; I admire you. And I know the

founders of this country meant that everybody should get justice Aw

./ $v^ag equality. And unless we work and sacrifice and suffer to

bring it about ourselves, you see the next time it won't be as

hard for the next person.

S: That's one reason I am fighting so hard trying to clear the way

for somebody behind.

I: Right, your children, and your grandchildren and your fellow

Lumbee Indians. Not only them, but all other Americans.

S: I am interested in justice for all.

I: Right. Well, thank you so much. This is an inspiring story. I am

sure some people have tried to discourage you in the past.

S: Sure, I have had it from a number of people of my own race; mostly,

I would say from the whites. I new their reasons for wanting me

to drop it. But it was a little bit hard to understand it from












some of our people.

I: Right.

S: But nevertheless, I have continued. And still.intend to

continue.

I: Well, thank you so ver much. It's a great contribution you have

made to our program.

S: I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to come and

interview in this because definitely, I would love, in my opinion,

for the whole world to know just what is happening among, us,

right down here in Robeatson County, Hope County, Scotland County,

particularly, among the Indian people.

I: Yes, I believe with all my heart that many Americans. Well,

lb 7'42 &d7r
I know many Americans from one side of this country are now in-

terested in our problem and are now listening, opening their ears

and listening to our grievances. And that eventually we will

achieve our many goals. We have so many things to accomplish

but certainly, justice is the basic thing that all Americans

have to have. The law should apply the same to one and all.

And thank you so much, Mr. Rogers. I certainly appreciate your

courtesy.





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