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
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
For all other permissions and requests, contact the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
LUM 99A Wells, typist
Taylor interview w/
Director of Admissions at
Pembroke State University
T: My name is Marilyn Taylor. I'm recording for the Doris
Duke Foundation. Today is April 18, 1973. I'm on the
Pembroke State University campus. I'm in the office of the
director of admissions and he has so graciously consented to give
us an interview. Sir, would you tell us your full name?
L: Jason B. Lowry, director of admissions at Pembroke State
University, Route 2, Box 485, Pembroke, North Carolina, 28372.
T: All right. Would you spell "Lowry" for us?
L: L-o-w-r-y is the correct spelling of my last name.
T: Are you perhaps related to Henry Irr4 Lowry? I realize
Lowry ... have necessarily be, but we like to get this
established if there's any connection there.
L: Henry Lowry is my great-uncle.
T: Great-uncle. What did you think about the book "To Die Game,"
or have you read that, by William Evans? The book is about
Henry LT Did you think it did him justice? What criticism
or favorable remarks can you make?
L: It's rather amazing that several books have been written
about his life over the past several years. But somehow
Lowrys are not too interested in reading the life history
as it's being discussed on several occasions by my father
and we feel maybe some of the incidents that we have heard
have been not secondary information but primarily coming
from people who knew Henry r /Lowry. In many instances
several books do not give as you. would know a correct
setting of his life although I have never read/any of his
life histories places of things that he did that wasn't
exactly good for the Lowry family.
T: Well, he is being compared by some Lumbees as the Robin
Hood of the Lumbee people. What would be your comment on
L: Well, I am not real sure as to my feelings about him
being a Robin Hood for anybody, but there were some out-
standing characteristics that I have thought of him relative
to his honesty, integrity, and never have we heard of an
account of him insulting a woman.
T: Well, I'd have to point him out as a hero there on that
part if for no other reason. Maybe I'm prejudiced. Could
that be true? Tell us something about your work. I know
you're a busy man and this you might say the office to
your door is the gateway to get in this institution. Tell
us something about the things that you have to consider.
L: I would like to begin with perhaps the backup information
that I am a graduate of Pembroke State College in 1948
with less than- one hundred Indian students attending this
institution in what is referred to as Old Main building in
which I finished high school in '38 in this building. To
watch this institution grow over the years,I have been here
now as director for admissions for seven years. And my
first year we had approximately 1250 students and I have
watched this grow to over two thousand. Now my particular
job is to review applications of people who are attending
this institution. I run a three-month recruiting period
of a prog p itinerary in the state of North Carolina to
all the secondary schools reviewing seniors in high schools
who are interested in attending this institution. In addition
to reviewing these applicants I have to interview transfer
students or people who do not meet our regular admissions
requirement. Then I visit the local high schools in Robeson
County and adjoining counties who are in the geographical
commuting distance of this institution. I attack this
from the standpoint of interpreting/these young people the
purpose and the curriculum and the various programs offered
at Pembroke State University. I do not attempt to try
in any measure to oversell the institution. Based on in-
formation that students choose to go to the particular in-
sitution in North Carolina that would meet, come more nearly
meeting their particular needs. For example, there are
high school students now going into the technical programs in
the community college system as well as your technical institu-
tions. We're fortunate in Robeson County to have Robeson Tech
that enables us to encourage students who are not as we call
academically ready to go into a four-year institution who will
take vocational training in your tech schools. And fortunately
we have some few who will venture out to attend or transfer
to Pembroke State University for a four-year degree. Thereby
having this knowledge of the institutions in the area we then
recruit on the basis of those students who feel they would
like to save money as we as a four-year liberal arts institu-
tion are somewhat inexpensive in relation to the University
of North Carolina or some of your larger universities in North
Carolina. Therefore we are asking people to evaluate their
own individual records, to evaluate with their high school
counselor to see if their interests, attitudes and abilities
lie in the area of furthering their educational career. And
of course we invite their attention to look toward Pembroke
T: This is very good. We know that this institution started out
as an all-Indian school. Do you f view this institution as
an all-Indian college or university?
L: Inas much as we have about eighty per cent white students, possibly
sevenper cent black students and the remainder Indian students
then I interpret this institution having a philosophy of
dealing with all people who are interested in furthering
their education. As I walk out to the student center I see
all races intermingling. I see them studying together, and
after a period of time I feel that the institution is doing
well with the integration problem, if you want to put it
that way, to where I'd never think as I view the campus in
terms of who these people are as much as I interpret as to what
these people are after and taken in relation to their degree
at this institution. I think this comes through experience
through working with various groups of people, and to work
with people is to find that you love people.
T: Then you definitely believe in race, that being the human
race, I take it. Let's see, you said you had been director of
admissions for seven years. Can you tell us .some of the
significant changes perhaps that you've seen in attitudes
as well as changes in the buildings, the plan itself?
L: Well, the general attitude I think has been good all along.
I find now that the university is accepted as one of the
fourteen universities in North Carolina and with this accep-
tance I find that students prefer in the area to attend an
institution that's nearby and in many instances, for example,
our small home economics program where one would go to
say, East Carolina or Chapel Hill to find that they can do
just as well in our small program here. And I find that
parents and students are receptive to a more personal con-
tact in the classroom in which our student ratio is relatively
small compared to other institutions.
T: Does it disturb you or have you got criticism from the stand-
point that there is not very many Lumbees or Indian students,
the percentage as compare to other races? There has been some
criticism I'm sure, but how do you answer that?
L: Well, some of our more qualified Indian students prefer to leave
Pembroke which is the center of Indian culture, to prefer
to leave the county as many of our smartest students now are
graciously accepted in other institutions, Apalachian State
University, Chapel Hill and East Carolina as well as some
of our private institutions. Personally my son who is a
senior in high school has been accepted at '0 I r nin
Hickory, North Carolina. This gives a chance of cross-section,
cross-section culturally as well as having experiences,
rubbing shoulders and elbows with other people out of the
county. This breaks up the clandestine kind of situation
that we have found ourselves in for many, many years.
T: You mentioned sometimes that you do counsel with students.
Is this something you take upon yourself or is it part of
L: Many times a student will come to the admissions office
as the first contact in higher education. And we feel in this
office that we must give the kind of service that would en-
courage a student to come back if they so desire to find
more information about any problem that they may have so as
a result the- very kind attitude particular of the secretaries
in the admissions office and to speak modest maybe the
director has something to do with that. To say that we do
have students who will come back to the admissions office for
T: I want to ask you, and this may be a loaded question, but it's
a question I think that's, you know, has validity and cer-
tainly it's in people's minds whether it's voiced or not: do
you find the fact that you're a Lumbee Indian as you go out
in the different parts of the state recruiting holds you back
or have you ever felt discrimination in any manner from other
groups or other entities such as people that you associate
L: For discrimination in North Carolina or in America, of course,
for many, many years we have had to deal with these kinds of
situations. But for the most part I find that one has to
maybe just take it as kidding and move on with the business
of recruitment, with the business of satisfying one's mind
in doing to type job that any recruiter regardless of race,
creed, or color would attempt to do. I'm sure there are
situations that one could maybe feel that you could make an
issue/of it, but that's part of the problem. That's part of
the understand that one has to have in dealing with a position
fnt Tf' like fo over the state of North Carolina.
T: You mentioned a kidding and with this a sense
humor and I think you told me a story about something like
"Come on down to the reservation." Could you, if you under-
stand what I'm talking about ... tell that with humor ...
L: Many time we are asked, "How are the Indians in Pembroke?"
And I Of course I remark now that we are outnumbered, and
we are smoking the peace pipe, we're not scalping as many
white p ple today as we have in the past, that we are
believing in peaceful coexistence.
T: And tactfully you don't mention that it was the white man
that did the first scalping, I take it.
L: Well, the reason that we were, as somebody told me, were first
in America is because we had reservations here. The reason
other people cannot get here is because they do not have a
T: Well, this reservation thing has held over all the way through.
You either have to have reservations to get anywhere these
days almost, don't you? By the way, how do you find the
accommodations, the reservations and so on in your travels?
Do you enjoy travelling and eating out of restaurants and
this kind of thing? It takes you away-from home a great
deal, I know.
L: Well, it's a change in pace and schedule. For the first
few weeks it's rather enjoyable to meet the other seventy-two
people who are representing seventy-two institutions at
North Carolina in addition to representatives from the state
of Virginia and South Carolina and Georgia. as we travel as
a family and as a group, and the hustle-bustle of getting up
in the mortng, getting the toast and the regular things for
breakfast and getting ready to hustle out to a high school
by nine o'clock. It's not always easy and it's not always
good to be away from the family, but then this is part of
T: You mentioned that you have a son. Would you tell us the
extent of the rest of your family; perhaps something
about what they do and so on?
L: I have a daughter who finished at Pembroke State University
three years ago. She taught in elementary education at Red
Springs, North Carolina and was married to a graduate from
Pembroke State University, who is getting his graduate degree
in UNCG in Greenboro, North Carolina. And in this transfer
my daughter has taught two years at Stocksdale Elementary
School, a few miles north of the city. They are planning
perhaps to stay in the area where that she can continue her
education on her graduate degree. Bob, her husband, is con-
sidereing doing his doctorate in mathematics.
T: And you always save the best for the last, your sweet wife.
Tell us something about her.
L: My wife, Roberta, is a longtime educator in Robeson County.
She has taught approximately twenty-five years)n the county
system; first, second, and third grade positions and is
presently employed by the Maxton City School, an administra-
tive unit, as a team teacher in the second grade. She's
rounding out thirty years of service in education in this
county. Most people are reluctant to give this kind of in-
formation but we're real proud of being able to say the
exact number of years that we have had the privilege of
working with boys and girls in the great realm of education
in North Carolina, Robeson County, and Pembroke.
T: Certainly I think this is commendable especially the problems
of education, it's been up and down. In talking with her
and her work and so on have you found that there have been
many periods of discouragement in her life with the educational
problems, the facilities and perhaps the schools being maybe
not as standard or let's say, perhaps substandard as compared
to maybe more affluent places, because we do recognize that
we do have a lot of poverty here in Robeson County? How
does she feel about this as she relates to you?
L: There has always been mixed emotions about supplies, equip-
ment in the various schools that she has worked in, but
since the Title programs came into being these programs
have provided very adequately the supplies and facilities and
it's been amazing of the improvement that has been made in
the past few years. And the process of team teaching and
the processes of bringing our libraries up to standard and
our elementary schools, many of them have been accredited
by the state accrediting association the past few years.
So at this point we find that equipment, books, and supplies
we feel is adequately taken care of. Since this is the
American Indian Oral Studies and we need to get the program
across and particularly the story of Lumbee Indian I
suppose that you can recall a time when there was great
discrimination perhaps between here and Lumberton, only ten
miles away. Did you ever directly yourself feel any of this
discrimination? For example, you could spend your money
in Lumberton, but you couldn't use the so-called "white
restroom" or buy a hamburger and this kind of thing.
L: Well, many people have been depressed since Biblical times
up to the present time and there are people still depressed
today that particular situations have worked out whereby I
take the feeling and attitude that what happened several
years ago we must consider and overlook becauseVEhe processes
of education. As I visit Lumberton today or any other town
in the county I have the feeling that young people have changed
in their attitudes toward races, come about by the integration
of schools, the court decision of '54, public places opened
up for the human race, then we must forget and move on to
the dawn of a new day in relation to improving these kinds
T: Then personally you're saying you do not feel any bitterness
at all in this J area?
L: No, I'm not prejudiced in relation to how I feel toward the
people of the county.
T: Mr. Lowry, I want to thank' you for this interview and I want
to commend you on the fine job that you've done here. As I
came to Pembroke myself a student some four years ago I recall
that you were the first contact that I had with this insti-
tution. It was very favorable and as you stated time and
time again I've been back for counselling and to get a word
of advise or some wisdom and so on. And you've been most help-
ful and personally I want to thank you for what you are as
a warm human : being and for the work that you're doing here-
and for the contribution that you've made on this tape. As
you know it will go down in history, be put in every major col-
lege in the United States so perhaps one day your great-
grandchildren can listen to Mr. Jason Lowry and think, well,
what a great man he was to have helped the institution
of Pembroke State University grow to even more than what it
is today. And I want to say thank you again.
L: I appreciate those kind words. Thank you.
end of tape.