Title: Interview with Dexter Brooks (May 1, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007067/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Dexter Brooks (May 1, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: May 1, 1973
Spatial Coverage: Lumbee County (Fla.)
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.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007067
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
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: LUM 80

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LUM 80 A /
May 26, l'7
Deter' Brooks(Mr.)
Interviewed by Brenda.Brooks(BB)
:emtrore, Norch Carolina
BB: Mr. Brooks,/I would like for you to state your name and vital statistics pertaining to
your person, birth date, and so on.

Mr: My name is pX#f Dexter Brooks,and I was born May 15, 1943.

BB: And your parents are ?
BB: And your parents are (Mr. repeats mother and adds 's)
Mr; My father was John J.(initial only) Brooks. My/AM erl's maiden name was Leila Hammond
(without the s).
BB: How many members are there in your immediate family? -brothers and sisters of yours.
ME: My mother had eight children. Their first child, a girl, was still born. She had, then
had five boys, two girls.
BB: Would you name ~
Those members for me jus for record.

Mrs In order of decreasing age brother, Earl Cornell Brooks; sister, Maggie Loyce Brooks
Mercer; brother, John Mark Brooks;sister,Vivian Brooks Aha ;brother, Stephen Andrew
Brooks; now deceased; brother, Larry Trent Brooks. I am the second youngest son.
BB: OK. Let's talk some about your educational experience, first. Have you always resided
in this immediate area, meaning the Pembroke area?

Mr; I was born in the Union Community, Approximately one month after I was born,
my family moved to Pembroke,and we resided in a house( now destroyed which was at that
time situated neMt to the, what was called the Gospel Hall Church).
BB: And your education was,uh,maiag ana experience in this locale, then? Your primary education
in grammar school would you7discuss where you went to grammar school.
Mr: Yes, I went to grammar school at Pembroke Grade. I believe there was grade one through

seven there. I.At the time,the eighth grade in the eighth grade we didn't move those who
wanted. Now, in the junior high school,which was in the senior high school, I spent the
next five years at that school and graduatedfrom high school here in pembroke in 1961.
BB: Did you complete any college experience?
Mr: Yes, I had a sister who spent one year at Morris Hill and,/also, another person in this
community who was who I knew who attended Morris Hill Mr. Landwood Sampson, and so I
decided to go to the Morris Hill Junior College for my Freahman year. After a year at
Morris Hill, I was not satisfied with the school. It wasn't what I expected. It was
much too strict as far as the controls that the administration exercised on the students.
You mean
BB: The scholastic controls? or the social
BB: Social controls.
Mrs The social controls/ I was not at all satisfied with the academic program. The school
seemed to me to be un- substandard. And since I, my ultimate goal wqs to get a degree


Mr:- in engineering, I felt and if I remained at Morris Hill for two years, I would handicap
myself so I kbansferred to North Carolina State at the end of the Freshman year.
mai or
BB: Did you try to pursue your ambition to get a .. in engineering and if you succeed
such an objective idea, where did you complete it?
Mr: I transferred to North Carolina r:tate uh and majored in electrical engineering and
graduated in the Spring of 1965. I, also, had uh major in applied mathematics.
BB: Let's go back and talk a little about your elementary and high school education. You
said that Norris Hill, according to your opinion' you said that it was substandard
Do you feel that any way our educational process -. in Robeson County handicapped
you as far as your ability to compete with students/al over the S fate of North Carolina
at Morris Hill and your further education at N.C. Stqte? How do you relate the two?
as far as your education in Robeson County preparing you to go into higher education'
MrWell, in some respects, my education here was very limited and in others I was
quite pleased For example, in mathematics, I found it to be the case that uh even though
Pembroke at the tije didn't offer as many courses, in mathematics as most other schools

those that they did offer were quite good so IreG al we ahead of the game in mathematics.
BBt: 'hibt courues do you recall havin taken in the Pejrroke High School while you were a
student there? Were there any advanced courses there such as trigonometry, and higher ones
Mr: INd, there was two years of algebra and one year of plain geometry.

BB: So with your two years of algebra and one year of geometry you made a decision

to go into electrical engineering and you feel like you were not handicapped init.

Mri-Not in mathmetids, no. I had to take uh a noncredit course in solid geometry my

first semester at Morris Hill.

BB: And how did you do i that?

Mr: I made an A, of course.
BE: And the other courses/you had following high school in Pembroke you might have had
trouble with./ Which areas did you feel weak? Can you name some of those? Maybe it

was not necessarily/the svste in Robeson County, but you experienced a weakness..in

higher education.

;1r: The __ weakness I had was uh the skills in communication uh writing and

peaking. I think uh most of my weakness wqs could be termed uh lack of exposure.



BB: 4ell, in view of your activity here in the last few months, I can't necessarily

agree with you that your weakness is in writing and speaking because I find that

you have been very vital part of our political efforts in Robeson County and in

the State on various issues pertaining to Indians in Robeson County, but how do
how would you sugg-st
you surmise the overall picture of your education, and maybe/if you had the chance

to change some of the conditions in our schools that are serving mainly Indian

people. What kind of changes would you hope to see that would better equip one

to pursue higher education?

Mrs I would stress two basic series of courses. One English and when I say English,

I would mean the grammar, the ability to speak, the ability to write, /e.aeiallyI think,

curricular activities could, also, be used by involving people in clubs,etc.
uh have some extra they.-ter
that would force them to have/ in public speaking before college.

BB: Do you see any comparison or contrast with our system, today's school system,

as far as doing these things for students? Do we have more clubs or more

opportunity to expose the Indian students to activities, such as debating teams

that would, perhaps, cultivate the potential within us. Do you see any change at


Mr: I don't really believe there's that much. It seems like most of the clubs

functioning now were, also, in existence at the time I finished high school.

BB: There are so many areas that we could discuss, I think, maybe, one of your

special interests is the educational system in our county as well as mine,

and I would like to Let's just discuss the education and the conditions that

exist amo ng us today. First, would you, since you have done a lot of the

research concerning our school district, would you explain to me what presently

exists as far as the educational opportunities for children from kindergarten to
What kind of institutions do we. ayve? And how are they compared or2
high school. / related?
I think, quality of,
Mr: -ersontlly, there's been a decline in the / education, and the schools in the

Pembroke area, anyway, from the time that I attended high school.



Mr:(continued) I can see some of the same teachers continuing to teach who taught
not much -
me when I was is high school and at the time, I had/a very low opinion of these

people and the work they were doing, and from what I can observe, it is even worse


BB: How many schools do you refer to when you think of Indian schools in Robeson

County? How many school districts or school systems do we have to educate

Indians in Robeson County'

Mr: There are six school systems, each of which has a number of Indian students, but

by far the most Indian students are found in what is called the Robeson County

Administrative Unit. think

BB: How many students do you think an dsudeniso/t end'the Robeson County School

Administrative Unit.
a rn unwd
Mr: I'dsay seven thousand.

BB: Seven thous and. How may blacks and whites attend this same system?

Mr: Probably, about three thousand of each.

BB: Uh, what are the other school systems within Robeson Couhty?

Mr: You have the city systems for Red Springs, St. Paul's, Lumberton, Maxton, and

Fairmo nt.
BB: And what kind of student population- Indian/population might we find in Red.

Springs, for example. Do you have any idea?

Mr: I believe, I have those figures. According to statistics,collected

in the Fall of 1970 by HEW. Maybe I should give percentages. Well, I'll give
both.' Fairmont City Schools -831 Indian students,or 28%.

BB: OK. And while we are talking about Fairmont, to your know ledge, how many

Indian members served on the Fairmont School Bo ard?

BB: I believe there's one Indian out of seven, who was appointed.

Mr. None elected. And let's take each school district like that and see what kind
of situation exists.



BB: You may suggest the next one.

Mr: While I am on Fairmont, I believe there's fourteen Indian teachers for twelve

percent. For Luj berton City Schools we have 458 Indians for 9%, we have ten Indian

teachers for 6%.
BB: What do you mean when you say ten Indian teachers for 6% ? What does that actually


Mr: That means ten Indian teachers is 6% of the total number of teachers.


Mr: We have uh in Lumbertea, I believe, there's one Indian on the Board of Education,

and one Black.

BB: Was the one Indian elected? or appointed?

Mr: Elected. For Red Springs City Schools, we have 421 Indians which is 24%. Teachers-

we have six Indian teachers which is 8%. There are no Indians on the Red Springs

Board of Education. There's one Black, I believe, out of five. For Mackston City

Schools, we have 410 Indians for 28% and thirteen Indian teachers for 20%. And

finally for St. Paul's, we have 220 Indian students for thirteen percent(13%)and

only two Indian teachers which is 3%. There's no Indians on the St.Paul's

Board of Education.

Mr: Where is Pembroke in relation to these city school districts? We think of

Pembroke, generally, as the heart of Indian community in the County, so

geographically, how is Pembroke situated in respect to these various city units?

Mr: Pembroke is located in the approximate geographical center of the County.

BH: Do you have any figures as to the student population in the Pembroke -- Well, we'll

have to take it-the whole county system-would we not? I mean the specific figures

about the student population.

Mrs Yes. For the county system, there were 7,510 Indians for 57% of the student

population. We had 314 Indian teachers for 58% of the teaching population.

For the town of Pembroke, there're three schools located in Pembroke. At Pembroke


Mr: Elementary you have 825 Indian students 29 Black, and 60 White. Teaching staff is
twenty-eight Indians, three Black, two White. These are for 1970. I think there's

been quite a change since then.

BB: Are there more or more integrated situation now?

Mr: Yes, let me get my current -Ok, for Pembroke Elementary now we have 308

Indians, twenty-three Blacks, and thirty-nine Whites,which seems to be a drastic

droo in the number of White students. Let 's see. We have teachers twenty-seven

Indians,two Black and six White so there has been a dramatic increase in the

number of White teachers.

BB: The White student population decreased and the White teacher population increased.

Mr: That's right. That's true, yes.

BB: Uh, what in your opinion accounts for no city administrative unit takin in

so-called Indian schools. For example, there are Indian schools that are closely

located near city schoodstri lines. In your opinion, what accounts for this
kind of messing of school/lines?

with which
Mr: Political pressure. The individual schools,/cities which have special districts

were able to command them while the Indian population was not able to do so.

iB: Howwere these/city units established about something that has to be done in a
legal method? And if so,/why couldn't Indians establish or get a charter for a

city school unit, especially in the Pembroke area?

Mr: They are established by special acts of the Legislature.
BB: And can you/very briefly tell me how old some of these city administrative units


Mrs I believe the oldest is Lumberton whi.ph was established in 1907. Then came Red

Springs which was established in 1913. Uh, then, we have, if I may glance at

Fairmont, I believe was established in 1939. The4 came,in 1953,St. Paul's and


BB: St. Paul's and Maxton. Do you have any knowledge that anyone who ever tried to



BB: get legislation introduced to establish a city school unit for the Pembroke area?
Have you ever heard of any talk or knowledge of such an effort?
Mr: in
There was uh to my knowledge talk of that/the past year. Uh, nothing came of it.

Other than that, uh, not to my knowledge, but I would suspect that such a thing

has been tried.

BB: Well, considering the city administrative unit and based on White and Black what
consti tlb
most of the population may also control the Board of Education though there are

Indians residing within those city units. In the county administrative unit how

does your Board elections reflect the population of the students being educated

by that system?

Mr: 'Til May the first, there was a seven-member board. Uh, only four two Indian

and five White.
BB: And has this/traditionally happened? Have we been able to elect an Indian to

the Board of Education in the county unit?

Mr: No. Indian had ran for the Board of Education and always defeated. The first

Indian was appointed by a Erecial act of the legislature. Since then

this particular Indian that ran for re-election and won. The first Indian to

actually go on the Board initially by the elective process. This was done

in the last primary.

BB: This official being

Mr: Mrs. Aliig ___ Holmes.

BLb: o sh&s the first woman, Indian at that, to be elected/6aypopular vote. Now

what kind of political structures do you think has been so successful in the

in the vote of the Indian people? In not giving them any

voice, how has this been achieved by the power structure? I'd like you to

relate to the real technicalities of it. Exactly how have they been able to

outvote us or,at least, keep control of the Board considering the population

in the county. We have the greater population. How has this been accomplished?

Mr: Well, the Whites have always had control of the election machinery. Did you



Mr: know North Carolina was one of the states requiring a literacy test to vote? 3o

for anyone to be able to become registered to vote they have to read and interpret

a section of the Constitution. This test since the registrar s, all of whom at

that time were White, was discriminatory against-apparently used to deny any

Indians and Blacks, of course, the right to vote. Until this test was suspended

by the Voters' Right Act in 1965, really very few Indians were registered to vote

with the consequence the White found it very easy to outvote.

BB: Do you have any idea of some kind of figure that may effect the number of registered

voters prior to '65?

Mr: About 3,000 people were registered.

BB: And how many Indians do you think reside in Robeson County ?
the census this out,
Mr: I would say uh is cutting some of/but I would say approximately 30,000.

BB: And since uh change in use of the Voters' Right Act of '65, what has happened to

increase participation on the part of Indians specifically,but it has affected

non- 'hite :n Robeson County.

Mr: I think the most dramatic -- There are two things. One: pressure was brought to

bear on the Board of Elections and so they began to appoint what is called

"registration commissioners". This was registrars who were special registrars

who are allowed to register peornle regardless of precinct. That is, anywhere in

the county. Of course, they appointed a couple of Indians to these slots and

these people were able to uh put several thousand Indians on the books.
BB: What is the voting potential now not potential, but what is the number of

registered voters among the Indians now compared to the 3,000 less, maybe before

'65 ? How does it compare with today?

Mr: I would say we have little over 11,000 Indians registered to vote.

BB: So though the Act gave us a right without being able to read and writeand, then,

the other obstacles we have had to overcome we have nirdressed.



BB: Now, even though we have registered people, what accounts for our codi lacenc'r

or non-participation in the elective process, do you think?
Mr: I believe- some people defeatism they never won so they say, "Well, you

can't win." Also, uh another kind of people take refuge in themselves
and see themselves an individual against the world and they don't see any point

in registering as they had no confidence in anyone who could represent them.

BB: How does economy p lay a part in our non-participating, do you thin k?
Is the because the
Is the because the politics is controlled in Robeson County by the select few- or

the Whites? Consequently the economy is controlled. Does this play a part in

encouraging or discouraging the participation on the part of non-Whites in

Roboson County?

Mr: Of course, the capital income in Robeson County is very low and poor people and

uneducated peoples are usually one in the same so it's difficult to reach a

person who is poor and uneducated.

BB: You referred to the Robeson County school unit Bonrd of Education as having

been seven until May 1. What kind of changes have taken place on that Board

since May 1 or what were you referring to?

Mr: It was an act passed by this session of the General Assembly which increased

the size of the Board to eleven. This added four members. These four members

are elected only by those people who resided within the Robeson County School

Unit. Heretofore, the entire Board was elected by all the voters in the
county, regardless of what saool unit the particular voter resided.

BB: And why -Dexter, can you give me kind of a brief history of immediate

preceding events that may have happened/eore the birth of this zr bill
BB ,1 es Why
BB: iai creacoa a larger school board? ; did this come about in the Lg inning?

Mr: Well, maybe I should go back to the early sixties. When DR. Martin Luther Brooks

receive: his MD in Michigan and returned to the area, he became very interested

in politics because of the amount of political control which was excerised by the

Whites over the Indians at the time. So in the early sixties, I believe, he ran



Mr: ior the Botard of Education a couple of times. He was not able to get on the

Board. The last time he ran, I think,there was a deal worked out with some of

the White political leaders that they realized an Indian,probably, would not be

elected because every person living within the county was able to vote on the
county unit -chonl Board which limited the voting power of the Indians
of course,
since most of the Indiansllived in the county school unit, and at the time, all

of their children n attended school within the county school unit because of the

policies of segregation. The White political leaders agreed that since there

were, I believe, two or three Indians running for office, that they would select

the top vote-getter among the Indians and by special act of the legislature. I

say again-through a special act of the legislature, they were going to appoint
vote total
the Indian with the highest Dr. Brooks, I beliwe, received the highest

votes total, However, he was not appointed to the Board of

Education. The-they expanded the Board to seven appointed an Indian and a

Black. The Indian was Mr.Harry West Iocklayer(?). The Black was Mr. Thurman

Anderson. So, you see, the Indian for three years had been trying without
you see,
success to get an Indian elected to the school board, even though^the majority

of the students in the particular school unit were Indians. Of course, several

things were coming into play the Voters' Right Act we discussed earlier, more

and more Indian people were being placed on the voting roll. OK. We're now in
the period of the late '60's. The segregation push was reaching about highestt

I-oint. I mentioned earlier we had six different school systems. You see, at this

time, as far as pupil assignment the lines went north for Indian students. That

is, Indian students living within any of the city systems were bused out of the

city systems to the county system because none of the city systems of the tide

had any Indian schools.

BB. Are you saying there were no Indian students at all, probably, going to the

Lumberton City system before the desegregation forced them to put Indians in there?



Mr: Yes, that's wha-

BB: Indians whodid live within these school districts were bussed out into the

county district to be educated?

Mr: Yes, that's true. Uh.

BB: So we had bussing before bussing became an issue.

Mr: Right. We had quite a bit of bussing and the bussing always fell/ uSlStainly

on the Indian people since they tended to live scattered out in the rural areas

whereas Whites were more or less concentrated in towns. Of course,you always have

a few White families scattered in the Indian communities and these Whites, of course,

were cross bus ed from the county units-foom the county units into the city units.

For example, the White kids liv in and around Pembroke were bussed to Red Springs,

into the Red Springs City School Unit.

BB: "here were the Blacks in Pembroke bussed to? before the desegregation?

Mr: Well, I in Pembroke were bussed to _______ Henley Branch which is south

of Lumberton on 301. The Blacks in Pembroke were bussed to Henley Branch which is
and, also, to Roland I believe
south of Lumberton on 3Ol0to what was then called.Southside School.

B;' What kind of distance in miles is this? How far were the Whites bussed out

of Pembroke to a White school?

Mr: I would say a distance of, at least, ten or twelve miles.

BB: And the Blacks were bussed how far out of Pembroke?

Mr: Roughly, the same distance.

BB: And, then, what do you say was the extent of bussing Indian students to Indian

schoolsecause we'te scattered in about seventeen different communities throughout

the county. What kind of distances were Indians bussed to Indian schools? Can you?

Mr: The school which had the most bussing was Magnolia High School which is situated,

in Shallow Creek Township _- .north of Lumberton on highway 301. This school
had to serve all the Indians in the northern part of the county md bussing there
sometimes entailed distances in excess of twenty miles.

LUNr; 80 A

BB: And now, what since they've had to integrate and they have got city unitshow do

the students within those units compare wr what kind of district lines have they

set up to involve Indians who geographically reside in that district but formerly

attended Indian schools. What hanoened there?

Mr: Well, these during the late '60'd, as we saw a rash of annexations to the city

units For example'e in the case of Lumberton, until about 1967 the Lumberton

School Unit coincided with the city limits of Lumberton. When HEW entered the

picture and started demanding that thdchools be desegrated,Whites around the

city of Lumberton began to fear that their children would be forced to attend

predominately Indian schools inside the county unit. This brought on a series

of annexations to the city unit. For example, Lumberton, I believe, there was,

at least, thre-' possibly four, areas annexed to the Lumberton city unit between

the period of time '67 through '71.

BB: These were areas outside the city units that were really in the county units.

Mr: Thnt would annex to the city units.

BB: What about Indians who may have lived in that little county segment? What happened?

They were also pulling in Indians were they not?

Mr: Yes, the-they brought in Ind ians,also, but the areas which were brought in were

predominately White.

Ub: Did they exclude any areas that are obviously exclusions?

Mr: Yes, they uh for Lumberton anyway there's an area populated by Indians within the

county unit which is completely surrounded landwise by the Lumberton City Unit.

BB: Who is responsible for drt.wing the school district lines?

Mr: These lines were drawn by uh special acts of the legislature.

BB;: So actually the body that would have the jurisdiction to change a line would be

the legislature?

Mr: The legislature can change the lines. I might add that in the case of F.irmont,
there were two acts affecting it. One in 1969, I believe, which brought in



Mr: approximately half of Sterling's Township which is predominately White. This was

taken into the LrNi the Fairmont City Unit. Also, Fairgrove School,which at

which before desegration was an all Indian School,actually was within the

boundaries of the Fairmont City Unit. This,then,necessitated a special act of

the legislature in 1971 which removed Fairgrove from the Fairmont City Unit and

placed it within the county unit.
And*jre UWit
BB: there parents living in the Fairmont City.now whose children use to

go to Fairgrove, the Indian school that now have to go to Fairmont .School?
vir: Yes, any person living with'the Fairmont City School Unit legally has to attend

the Faiirmlnt City Schools.

BB: Do .:u have any idea as to how many Indians this might involve this new
section of Fair-mont district?

Mr: I'd say approximately 800 Indian students.

BB: What kind of participation did we have on the part of voters in the Fairmont City

:-chool Unit electing board members?

Mr: Well, before I answer that, I'd like to talk about the Red Springs City Schools.

The uh all of the -of course, all of these school units were established by acts

of the legislature. And for Fairmont-Lumberton anytime there was a change in the

boundaries of the particular city uhit you can find an act of the legislature which

did this. Now in the case of Red Springs, we had been unable to establish how the

lines of the Red Springs School Unit were initially set up. For example, when the
of Oxidine
lines were closed in 1970, the property line S____ school which at

the time was all Indian was made the boundary of the Red Springs City School Unit.

BB: To accomplish what?

Mr: To keep Oxidine geographically within the county unit.

BU: And outside of the Red Springs City Unit?

Mr: Yes. We have been unable to determine exactly how the lines of the Red Sprinps

schooll Unit were established.


LUM 80 A

BB: Now, you want to answer my question about the voter participation in the areas

that were once outside of the city administrative units and now they are Indian

residents who vote on the Fairmont School Board because they have been forced to

go to the Fairmont City School Unit.

Ir: Yes. At one time, the uh most of the school boardsin Robeson County were

appointed. The elected ones-

BB: Appointed by whom?

Mr: The General Assembly. The elected ones were Red Springs, St.Paul, and Lumberton.

St.Paul's School Board conducted its own election. That is, the school board

itself was largely responsible for holding the election determining who was

eligible to vote and this election was held at the St.Paul's School itself.

The County Board of Llections did the elections for the city school system

of Lumberton. OK. When the city limits no longer were the same as the

school limits, a problem was created in the case of Lumberton, anyway where you

have a special voter a voter who lived outside the city limits, but at the

same time within the school unit. Singe the Lumberton schooll Board had its

election at the same time as the Lumberton City Council and the elections were

conducted by Robeson County Board of Elections, the Board of Elections,at that

time,requested of Mr. Luther Britt(or Gritt) who was, then, and still is the

attorney for the city of Lumberton to request an opinion of the attorney general's

office as to whether these special voters wre eligible to vote on the Lumberton

City School Board, and if so, would their regular voting places have to be open

for them to vote.

BB: Let me see if I underst00d that. You're sayin that they questioned the right

of a resident within a school district to vote on that school board?

Mr: That is correct. Yes. They, also, asked if they have the right to vote. Now
by the way.
this is true even though these people had to pay special school taxes* They,also,



Mr: asked did their regular voting ..lces have to be made available for these

peoi le to vo te. The they received a letter from the attorney general's

office an opinion which was written by Mr. James Bullock(or Bullet). He

said that yes, these particular people would have to be allowed to vote. He

further stated that in his oiinirn, he didn't feel that it was necessary to

,SIDj'I WO .- ITf..,VI.,.ING DPI.'43.R BP, ',..S:

Mr: said only tha6 the polls in the eight Lumberton presincts

would be open in their school election. This ignored the fact that the
territory Sound orSaddle Tree
Luimbrton City Unit included^within Less 1Sw6ap4 precinct, Shallow

Creek presinct,and, also, West presinct. In other words, it

appeared that the election board ig ored the second part of the opinion of the

Attorney General's office. This seemed to indicate a feeling on the part

of the election board, especially their asking for such an opinion

in the first place.

BB: Just repeat your complete statement.

Mr: This seems to indicate to me,anyway, and there was apparently a feeling on the

members of the election board that people living outside the city limits of

these particular of all the city school units really had no business

voting on the.board of education in the first place.

BB: Though their children went to these schools, they were outside the city limit

and their children went to the city schools still had no business voting on

the school board.
Mrr: Right. This is, also, true,even more than this, these people in the case of

Red Springs and Lumberton were actually payin special taxes for the support


.LU 80A

Mr: of city schools. Now, the board of elections, at that time, then had to devise

a method whereby they could identify people living outside the city limits but

inside the school unit. Y'see Robeson County at the time utilized the loose-leaf

syateri of registration. Each individual voter's name and pertinent information

was placed on a loose-leaf card. Cards for the cities' residents were in green.

Cards for all other people were in yellow, so they decided to indicate voters

living within the school units from outside the city limits to use the letters

SD in the upper right-hand corner of the card. This process took place before the

school board elections of 1972 primary, and they took place they were done by

what I call the"roll board of elections"since the board has since gone -underlone

a dramatic change. The old board was composed of three Whites, whereas the new

board is triracial one Black, one White, and one Indian. OK. Examining the
election returns in the 1972 School Board Electionq we found,,for example, in the

case of Fairmont, the Fairmont School Unit comprises parts of Gettys Township,

Thompson Township, BoLg,Bac wamp Township, Sterans all of Marrietta or

what is called Whitehouse, I believe, and all except a very small portion of

Fairmont, which is the territory mentioned previously v uh around Fairgrove

schooll. In examining the returns, we found that hardly any votes were cast in

the Gettys -Thompson-B ack Swamp- S presincts. These all of these

precincts are Oredomina white. For example, in Thompson ,there was only about

thirteen totes cast on the Fairmont Board of Education. Now, contrast that with

a se-i-Wite area of Sterlings. Sterlings is probably better than 90% White,

and they had, at least, 133 people to vote. This, perhaps, indicates some
/ /
discrimination on the part of the old board in the matter of these

in that it seems that rural Whites wre by rural Indians were not
-1 It .1was -the
taxed JU' Even harder to understqnds- in the case of Fairmont, where

Fairmont Township is divided into two prestncts. The presinct Fairmont Number

One, I believe, it is called, which south of highway 130 and east of Highway 41.



,1r: All of this precinct lies within the airmont School Unit. However, when we

checked books at the board of elections we found that the tag-in system
had been used there adaonly approximately 50% of the people registered in that

presinct had been tagged to vote on the Fairmont City Board. So this is pretty

hard to explain unless you talk about outright elections' fraud.
B3i: Docs 50% that you did find who ere tagged in presinct number one^Fairont ?

Mr: Most of these people were White.

BB: Were White. What about the uh other city school districts? Is there a common

pattern in the Red Springs City School District? for example, as far as

participants in the rural part of that school district voting on the school


Mr: Yes. In looking at returns for Red Springs, we found that for two precincts

which are predominately Indian ____ and there

were no votes cast on the Red 3Srint;s Board of Education. And, in fact, we

believe the ballots were not even available afterwards at these presincts for

the registering of voters. In Smiths Township again which is predominately

Indian approxinal.ely 25% of the land area of Smith Township lies within the

red Springs City Unit. However, only about 30 some people voted on the Red
250 to 400
Springs Board even though you will probably be talking about,at least, people in that

area who are actually registered to vote.

BB: How much of the precinct geographically is are you speaking of when talking

of the segment of people who could vote on the Red Springs School Board but

could heretofore had not been doing so? How much of the presinct does this involve?
Mr: I would say uh at least 25% ofAregistered voters at Smiths live inside the

Red Springs School Unit. However,there has been minimal participation in the

iIed _'rrinp:s School Elections by these people.

BK: Unless you have something else about your school district, I have a question I

wanted to see what your response might be-Do you?


LUM 80 A

Mr: I only other comment is that in the case of Red Springs their board has

been elected for several years. How another question you might ask was- would

be that what happened previous to 1971- that is, before they instituted this SD

system of tagging. In the Red springs s School Electiohs did only the White

residents of Red Snrings vote? that is something which needs to be looked into.

BB; Well, I am not suggesting an answer ,but did they ever have a Black serve on that

board prior to this tagging or school district notation on registration forms,

did they have Blacks on the board traditionally?

Mr: No. The first Black to serve on the Red Springs was elected in this past election

and as a matter of fact, he was the top man on the ticket.

BB: So for the first time in the history of the system, they have a Black man and
r-robably since the change of^election board we have witnessed quite a few firsts,

but one question I definitely want you to respond to is what kind of complexity

has been created by new legislation which states that only residents of the county
unit will elect theappointe, s. According to our old election process it seems

to me that there's going to be more confusion which might difc -urag:e particioation

unless the board of election tukes a positive approach and response to this


Mr: My answer to that is the election laws are not that are

revised Now all special district elections and this is including school

units The elections all take place at the same time and this is let me

re-phrase that- In ioweson Countjall the city school units'elections now take

pl-ce on the same day as all the city elections. This will be in November.

Some of these have been taking place in May, with Uerregular primary so now

we will have in November elections for all the city boards and at the same day
all the city elections Then, in May,athe regular Democratic primary. You'll

have only the c-iunty board of education being voted on as far as boards of
education. You will have then at that time, I imagine, two kinds of ballots.

LUM 80 A

Mr: One ballot will be available to all the people in the county and one ballot will

be available only to those residents of the county school unit.

BB: So actually the voting process will not be that complex but the problem will be

getting someone in the field informing people that they are to vote on the

candidates that they qualify to vote on. For example, those who are in city

units who have not been voting on city boards will have to be made aware that

they can vote on the city boards.

Mr: Yes,you have the problem that several of these boards were appointed and until

the past couple of years, no one voted on them,and the ones, for example, in the

case of Red Springs where -which were elected since the Indians a* the time,

were bussed out of the units, most of them are-Well, I'm sure most of them
were not aware that they were indeed, eligible to vote on theboards. Uh, this

seems to be the feeling of a lot of the Indians in these rural areas is that

they really are not aware of the fact that they are eligible to vote on these

city boards of education.

Bl: Is there activity to correct this' problem?

Mr: There's a group' of Indians that met with the Robeson County Board of Elections -

uh, less than two weeks ago. We discussed this problem at length. This, I

might add, is the triracial board, and what we found was a situation where

we had beautiful co-operation and understanding from the two nonWhite members of
this board, which is quite a contret to on the one hand, you see what the

old board elections which was all White did. It seems to us to actually stymie

the elections process, whereas under the new board there seems to be a willingness

to co-operate and tooorrect past, shall we say, injustices.

Bc: I'm sure that there have been a lot of fast changes politically since 1970, I'll
say. Uh, just to mention a few, I would like for you to rusp -nd/if you want to,

just in a statement about each success because we have a first and it's a result



BB: of seeds that were planted years and years ago that maybe unduly we are taking

the credit for,but some of our pioneers, so to speak, have r ally paved the way

for us, and we are just beginning to see the returns. For example, I think, one

on the starting points was the defeat of an Indian man to the Senate. I think

this defeat really was a blessing in disguise because it motivated a lot of

youth that had not been involved in the political arena before. I'd like for

you to just comment,if you would like to,on the election returns when Darlton

Brooks ran for the Senate. What does this all mean to you? the experience in

that "rticular election year?

Mr: That took place in 1970. At the time, I was away- not in this area. Iwas
away ^school and not very active politically. However, in my opinion,

it seemed to me that it was the first time that an Indian had ever really

waged a very serious, intensive campaign for a county office. correction a
state office. I believe the returns showed uh Britt something

like 8,t000 votes vs Darlton had something like 5,000. What was interesting

was the tremendous support Darlton(or Dowling) received in some of the
Indian presincts. For example, here in Pembroke the vote total ^something

like 1,060 some Darlen vs something like a hundred thirty one (131) Britt.

BB: So really it shows that Indians want an Indian representative, but we have

filled it Our votes have been deluded by the system or just by being out-

voted and we've failed to get a representative.

Mr: Well, in his case you not only had an Indian candidate but an attractive

Indian candidate with aj organization behind him which seemed to have

been very active.

BB* Now, the next First, I think we could respond to is uh campaign to save

Old Main. What do you think actually this really meant to the Indian people

in zobeson County?


of course
Mr: Old Main is the oldest building/on the Pembroke State University campus, and,

I believe, was constructed in 1921. Of course, at the time it was constructed

the Pembroke State University was an all Indian school educating practically

all the Indians who were receiving an education in Robeson County. It was ,also,

as I understand it, the first brick structure in the Pembroke area. A lot of the
older people in and around Pembroke well were_ a lot of older/people are

.obeson that is, those who received any sort of education. Of course, had uh

an attachment for the building. think what the issue itself is is that is

motivated a lot of younger people to become active in the political process

around them. That is, it seemed to them that something was about to be destroyed

that they could see that honestly had meaning for the people in the community,

and yet they had no input into that decision and at the time seemed quite

powerless to do anything about it, so, I think, it took some of the younger
decision -
people and then sayin they had to have more of an input into the/decisions

that were being made all around them. It also seemed to say that the

Indian people were saying to the state and to the world, "We're Indians.

This building has special meaning for usand we feel that it should be

preserved as a monument to the struggle of Indian people to better themselves.

BB: I think this was also reinforced by people who had very, very limited education
identifying with this campaign. Some of the real, rural, grass/people who
probably had more than a third or fourth grade education, and they felt

as strongly about this campaign as people who were right up to the forefront

pushing the campaign,don't you think?

Mr: Exactly. Old Main apparently as the issue grew in intensity, it got to the

point that it seemed like uh two-sided issue. The one if you were for

Old Main, then you were a poor Indianist and if you were against Old Main,

you were against Indians. So everyone who believed in Indians seemed to be

able to relate to Old Main to the saving of Old Main.


LUM* 80 A

BB: So we could just use Old Main as a on our political structure in the

county and pretty much see which side was going Indian and which was not.

But do you think that Old Main campaign served as a positive vehicle to get

more Indian people involved in the election process?

r'r: I think so. Yes. A lot of people who be fore Old Main had not been involved

in the political process. During the Old Main issue which involved first

let me say the decision to tear Old Main down was a really a decision made

by politicians and in the campriign to save Old Main really it was waged

very much like a political campaign so there was very natural spilling over

of people who were involved in the campaign into the political arena. For
example, one person who had never been involved in politics and/was active

in the Old Main campaign decided to run for county commissioner. This person

not only ran for county commissioner seat, he was successful in defeating

the man who had been on the commissioner board for over twenty years.

BB And do you account for your success by the involvement of
people like myself who maybe 4^%^ to vote but we were J iust t of complacent
and we had done our duty by going to vote and we didn't see that there was
less aware
any need toit out to inform our j%$%/f/__ brother that his opportunity

and right was to support the candidate of his choice. Do you think young people

are the reason that we now have two Indian commissioners on the county board

of commissioners?

Mr: I think so. A number of people are involved in the Old Main issue. And this

issue was still going on during this particular election and a registration

effort which placed hundreds of people on the books and this particular

commissioner was aided by the Old Main issue posters and this kind of thing.

So this particular person was elected by what seemed to be a young pecr.le's

grassroot campaign.
BB: I've got a hundred more questions, but if I can ask you one more, I'll just


LUM 80 A

BB: let you talk to that one if you want to J4 ifyu are willing to sit longer/

we will. How did we manage to get the first Indian in the House of Represent-tives

in the State of North Carolina?
Mr: To answer that I would have to go back to the Democratic/convention here in

Robeson. Th as I said before effective political massive political participation

by Indians was almost negligible let's not say negligible, but was ineffective

'til '70. After 1970, seems to be the turning point when many things started

happening. For example, in the precinct structure of the Democratic Party,

precinct meetings are held after the primary or after Brooks was defeated for

the Senate in 1970. There was a strategy planning session whereby young Indian

people who had supported Brooks for the Senate decided that simultaneously over

the county they would try to go to these presinct meetings which,heretofore, had

been the property of what we call old line politician and take control of these

precinct committees. This was a these meetings were held at the same time

in every precinct all over the county. OK. These forces were successful in

talking over a number of these presincts,and, of course, each presinct elected

commithe men and delegates to the county convention. These people then went to

the county convention and the White structure bargained with then before or

right after he convention was in session to gain for the Indians the first

major concession was tiat the regular White Democratic Party had given up to

this time. In 1972, and after the last primary in which we saw an Indian

county commissioner elected and an Indian elected to the county school board,

Indians turned out in mass at all these presinct meetings without any grand

strategy session triggering the whole thing. That is, then, groups of Indians

in each presinct young people took control of I would say, every predominately

Indian presinct in the county. We, then, had a meeting a strategy meeting

of all these presincts before the county convention and when we reached the

co unty convention in Lumberton, most of the-well, there was a better


LUM 80 A

Mr: organization then there had ever been before so what we saw was the really

first convention of the Democratic 'arty in Robeson County. There

was a heated struggle for chairman of the Democratic Party- A Black, an Indian,

and a White being nominated for the position. The voting on the first ballot

was pretty well strictly racial Whites voted for the Whites, Indians for

Indians, Blacks for Blacks. We had a series of caucuses and in the caucuses

again they were strictly racial. Each racial grouping had its own caucus.
by the way
Indians and Blacks/lef t the main room which was left to the Whites. The

Whites apparently had already outlined their strategy and it seemed to the

Indians, aiyway, that a very small group of Whites were calling the shots,

whereas the Indians, anyway, necessitated a caucus where every individual

was allowed a vote. Anyway, the Blacks were most of the Blacks threw

their support to the Indian candidate since some of the presincts which had

White and Black delegates and they on the first ballot had split their vote

down the middle White/Black ad on the second ballot some of these precincts

threw their vote to the White because no Blacks from that presinct were

present to contest the action of the White delegates so the White candidate

won in a very close race. We, then, got a resolution out of the convention

that in the future the chairmanship would be rotated among the three racial

groupings. However, such a resolution is not binding on any future conventions.

BB: Had you not had some kind of resolution in a previous convention some years back?

Mr: Yes, I understand the last convention a similar resolution had been passed

concerning do you recall what?

BB: The chairmanship I think. I think the chairmanship was what we had a

resolution about prior to this convention.

MIr: This resolution was ignored so I would imagine the same fate is in store

for the second one. The Whites, of course, everyone at this time was pretty well


LUM 80 A

r: tired out. The chairman the man presiding over the convention, was

dripping in sweat. The White delegates were apparently
tired, The whole thing so a compromise was hammered out whereby allihe

delegates to the district convention ,and a number of committees would be

apportioned out on a racial basis aid each racial grouping then would
be allowed/its members on these committees. You recall the figures for the

delegates to the district convention

BH: Forty-eight ? Forty-eight delegates from Robeson County.

Mr: Broken down how? Broken down by how?

BB: I don't recall how the three races were made up in the -

Mr: Well, anyway, the White excuse me- the Black and Indian combined did

have the majority of the delegates.

BB: I know when we went there, he wanted to split our forty-eight votes with the

White having twenty and the Black and Indian each having twelve because he

had forty-eight votes from the county, but to the district convention.

Mr: As I said before, each of these committees were appointed in the manner I

outlined. One of these was a Carls District Committee which was

composed of one Black and one Indian. OK. In the last session of the

General Assembly an act was passed whereby anytime a vacancy occurred in the

House either by death, resignation, or whatever, instead of reconvening

county conventions to select a person to fill the vacancy the new act
gavethis responsibility t--, Lhese committees which were appointed

in these county conventions which in the case of this particular house
the name of
district a White person from Pembroke was elected by/Frank White who died

of cancer while in office. This meant then that this district house

committee which was composed of a Black and an Indian from Robeson would

be able to cast all of Robeson's votes Our district included Scottlahb

County and Hope County. However, the vote of Robeson was sufficient to


LuM 80A

Mr: outvote the other two counties c-mbined so what we had in effect was a Black

and an Indian from TRoeson County deciding who was going to replace the now

deceased Frank White. The Blacks and Indians talked ad it was decided that since

all of the three house members one was already Black, and this particular

person had been elected by receiving a majority of the Indian votes The

BlackE agreed to support the Indian in filling this vacant House seat. 'o

when the committee met, we had the Indians and Blacks supporting the Indian

candidate. Also, the Indian excuse me- the Black delegates from Hope and

Scotland. The two White delegates one from Scotland and one from Hope dd not

go along with this. However, they were powerleto do anything in that they were
Hinter Hader
outvoted so uh the vacant seat was filled by Indian Mr. Hinder joy Oxidine

of near Pembroke.
BB: Uh I said that was my last question but do you foresee this cqAition at the

district louse of _:epreentatives meeting as an indication that

there possibly might be some co-operation or coalition type effect in the

political arena of Blacks and Indians in this county and district?

H!r: I think so and I hope so. For example, in the issue of the double vote

we h the case of this was before Frank White died. Our deleoition in

i;aleigh\then consisted one part Senator, two part House members, and one

Black House member. We met with these people to discuss with them the

possibility of support for our efforts to stop residents of the various city

school units voting on the board of Robeson County School Unit. In the

meeting which was to be attended by all the delegation, Howard Brooks -

Howard Doyle Brooks and myself met with the Black legislator just previ- just

before our regular meeting, we discussed the situation with Rev. Johnson, and

he was in complete agreement. In fact, he had in his possession a piece already

drafted a piece of legislation which would have accomn-lishld exactly what
we were seeking to do. In the meeting itself, we found that we had no co-


lM 80A

Mr: operation whatsoever from the White members of the delegation Hou;;e member

Gus Perrots and Senator Luther Britt. Mr. White at the time was in the

hospital undergoing treatment for cancer so in the weeks to come as the issue

became more heated and more publicity That is, more of the public became

aware of our campaign we had the case where a Black was the only member

of the delegation who was willing to help a group of Indians accomplish
the number of
what the vast majority of/Indian people had been trying to do for some/years.

We met with nothing but indifference and hostility from members of the White

delegation. Since this was widely publicized within the press, I should

think that most of the Indian people are now aware of Rev. Johnson's

efforts on behalf of the Indian people, and I would assume that they are

Also aware of the stand taken by the White members of the delegation so

we see that here a Black was supporting the Indians and an Indian cause

whereas the Whites refused to do so. This seems to me to lay the ground work

for a future Indian-black coalition.
BB: .-.,we know if the Indian representative goes back and the Black representatives

goes back, they 've got to go back because of joint voting on the part of

Indians and Black in Robeson and adjoining counties. Right?

Mr; I would think so since our Indian representative gained his seat through White -

Black excuse me White -Indian co-operation.

BB: Black-Indian.

Mr: Excuse me Black-Indian co-Operation. It would seem to me that the course of

action he must follow in order to keep that seat would be to somehow put

together enough Black and Indian support to outvote the White since from my

survey of election returns in the past, White support of any nonJhite
candidate has been almost negligible. That is, the Iryan and Black candidate

are guing to have to run sort of as a team and support the idea of a double


LUM 80 A

Mr: shot vote. That is, their sup orderss voting only for two people and leaving the

third slot blank.

BU: OK. I've had you for over two hours and o I know you are re-dy to

quit, but we do have a great opportunity in onr school districts that you've

discussed in doing this very thing because Indian and Black who haven't

participated in elections we can get control will get representation on

several of the school boards so I see where it's really necessary that maybe

we have a continued interview to discuss the whole political change; and

projections, maybe, at some later time, so thank you, Mr. Dexter Brooks

for this very informative interview.

Mr: It was my pleasure.

BB: interruption. Hay I make a correction of he address given -

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