Title: Interview with J. A. Sharpe, Jr. (August 24, 1972)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006998/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with J. A. Sharpe, Jr. (August 24, 1972)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: August 24, 1972
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: UF00006998
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 4A

Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
Full Text


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
the University of Florida

LUM 4, Side 1

Lew Barton: This is tape one, side one of the Oral History program sponsored by the

Doris Duke Foundation through the Department of History of the University of

Florida under the direction of Professor Samuel Proctor. I am Lew Barton, LYm-

bee Indian poet, historian, and newspaper columnist. My newspaper column is

called Indian Newsbeat. My address is Post Office Box 35, Pembroke, P-e-m-b-

r-o-k-e, Pembroke, North Carolina, zip 28372; telephone number 919-521-9300.

And this is the introductory portion of the Lumbee Indian segment of the program.

For the sake of clarification, I shall give you a newspaper item appearing in

the Lumberton,North Carolina RobeXsonian, August 3, 1972. Living history jape

recorded Pembroke) the Doris Duke Foundation organized.a team of local researchers

Monday to tape the Oral History of the Lumbee Indians, organized by Dr. Samuel

Proctor, Professor of History at the University of Florida. The four-member

team consists of Danford Dial, that's D=i-a-1, Lew Barton, B-a-r-t-o-n, Mrs.

Janie Maynor Locklear, that's M-a-y-n-o-r L-o-c-k-l-e-a-r, and Mrs. Brenda

Brewington Brooks, B-r-e-w-i-n-g-t-o-n B-r-o-o-k-s. Professor Proctor, P-r-o-

c-t-o-r, who is Director of the Oral WHiNsax Indian History Program throughout

the United States directed the team of which Danford Dial is coordinator, to

obtain interviews of some 200 persons in the Lumbee River Valley. Dr. Proctor

will be in North Carolina throughout the week. The Oral History Program is a

new concept in history-gathering. Key person are interviewed throughout, I,

excuse me, through use of a portable tape recorder. Tapes are collected and

housed at the University of Florida but copies of the interview are made avail-

able to institutions of higher learning :kaK throughout the U.S. including Pem-

broke State University. Typed copies of the transcripts will also be made

available to writers, researchers, students and other interested persons. And

this is the end, the, this is the conclusion of the item which appeared in the

August 3rd edition of the Lumberton N.C. Robe)rsonian. Inasmuch as I have ber

LUM 4, iSide 1 ---2---

B: asked to introduce the Lumbee segment of the program, I deem it appropriate to

interview first of all Mr. J. A. Sharpe4unior, that's S-h-a-r-p-e, SharpeJunior

Editor of the Lumberton N.C. Robexgsonian. that's L-u-m-b-e-r-t-o-n and the

name of that paper is R-o-b-e-s-o-n-i-a-n, a county daily except Saturday news-

paper which has been successfully publishing in Robeson County for more than

a century. Not only has this newspaper dealt in vital matters intimately con-

nected with the lives of Robeson's people during all these yearsit had taken

a special interest in the history of the area, publishing a number of special

historical editions from time to time. This is August 24, 1972. I am Lew Bar-

ton and I am in the office of Mr. J. A. Sharpe, S-h-a-r-p-e, J. A. Sharpe Jr.,

Editor of the Robesonian here in Lumberton, North Carolina. Mr. Sharpe, I cer-

tainly appreciate this interview and if you will for the sake of our listeners,

I would be happy if you would first give me just a few biographical details,

your age'and if you'd like something about your family because I know our

readers are very interested in anything connected with this program.

Sharpe: MY, my age will be 60 in a couple of months and I've lived in Robeson County

ail my life except for awhile away in college and in the armed forces in World

War II. My family has lived in this county since 1907, and my father was Edi-

tor of the paper from that year until his death in 1947 upon which I assumed

the responsibility for continued operation of the Robesonian.

B: So you've been Editor of the paper since 1947?

S: Yes.

B: You've seen a good many things happen. You've seen change take place. You've

seen good days and bad even during your lifetime, 1Ixm1 mean during the time

that you've been Editor of the paper?

S: Oh yes. We have lived through good times and bad. Long-range I think there's

been a great deal of progress and improvement.

LUM 4, Side 1 ---3---

B: That's great. I, I don't plan to ask any trick questions. But as I was talking,

I was wondering if you thought of any changes which have taken place within

maybe the last ten years. So many changes have taken place really, it would

be impossible to enumerate them all but I was wondering if you'd care to com-

ment on any of those changes. Course that's up to you, we don't, we're not

supposed to ...

S: Well we have, we have had changes in many areas including the economic area.

Industry has begun to come into this county. There was a build-up during the

'sixties continuing on into the 'seventies and this has been tremendously help-

ful. Actually it's been quite necessary because of the decline of employ-
ment in agriculture. This has been the most noticeable thing RmaHla economic-

ally, the economic, the build-up in industry. And, of course, there have been

changes in our school situation resulting from changes in national policy

regard to minorities,and these have, these have come about fairly rapidly in

this county and without a great deal of commotion)although the changes them-

selves have been rather significant.

B: That's xikt right. I wanted to, I certainly appreciate those remarks and I

ma= would like to ask you if you have any remarks you would like to make in

reference to the history of the county and its importance, significance.

S: Well I, I assume in this particular context you're referring primarily to the

Indian History.

B: Well, of course, you and I are interested in all the county's history and I

don't think we can divorce it from, we can't divorce the Indian History from

the rest of the history,but anything you have to say along those lines, the

sky is the limit.

S: Well it happens that the Indian History is the history in which most people,

particularly visitors and new-comers, are interested. Anyone who takes up

LUM 4, Side 1 ---4---

S (cont.): residence in Robeson County may become curious about the Indian population

within a nwk week, a day, even within the first hour. This, this has been

difficult throughout my lifetime and in so many instances I've seen people who

seemed rather dis tan-w"zi ed in the area generally, have seen them perk up

when the Indian population is mentioned. K Of course this reflects the fact

that there are some racial differences here. If everybody was entirely alike

why,, there'd be no such interest in these distinctive differences. For a good
many years the county has been visited by writers historians and scholars from

other parts of the country and in, aixm almost invariably, these visits ht have
been inspired by interest in the Indian pamiaia population ianthe county.

This has been an almost continuous thing, intermittent, of course, but almost

continuous over a period of years.. So much so that I have been told that it

has been regarded as a nuisance by a good many members of the Indian community.
I feel sure that it is at times and other times reports have been made which

were highly acceptable to the Indians community. This interest in preserving

racial identity which has been so characteristic of the Indian population in

this county seems to have been a surprise to some federal officials in con-
there's a
nection with the desegregation plan for public schools. I thinkZkaR tendency

to discount this, possibly to interpret it4as a form of resistance to desegre-

gation, something contrived for that purpose. And this certainly has not been

the case. It, it is a long-standing interest on the part of the people in es-
tablishing and preserving their identity,and there's, it is not something that

is inspired by r sse l although recent events have made it more necessary

than ever, to actively preserve this heritage and to prevent its being dif-

"fused and lost in the general process of integration. This, this is the way

\ itxrak looks to me as, as as atobserver on the scene. I think that the crucial

\thing in this is that unless this heritage and the record of it is preserved

LUM 4, Side 1 ---5---

S (cont.): here in Robeson County, it is not likely to be preserved any where else.

Now we hava lot of Scots in this county and regardless of what interest any of

them might show in their Scottish heritage, they can be relatively sure that in

Scotland this heritage will be preserved. Now visitors from big cities some-

times find it not particularly unusual that we have three races in this county
and we have some racial differences because in New York particularly, in this
\ But
melting pot city, there are so many different nationalities represented. Each

person of a different nationality in New York City has a link with the Old

World where these cultural and ethnic and historic and national differences are

preserved in one form or another. But here we have the necessity to rely on

the people in this area and their institutions to preserve such history and

heritage that we have.

B: Well that's certainly, certainly interesting and I think it's a good, a good

summary of attitudes toward the preservation of our heritage,and of course,

I know the Scotch people are very proud of theirs although they may not be as

demonstrative as we are. But we have places in the county, you know, where,

like, like the town of Maxton which, Mack's Town originally, and Mackland

Chevrolet, Scottish Chief, they do take quite a bit of pride in their, in

some of the things. So in that respect it does, they don't seem to be so

very different in the degree that they, that they embrace and appreciate their

past. Mr. Sharpe, would you tell ag us something about your immediate family?

How many children you a have, their names? When people ask me to tell the

names of my children I, and their ages, this is really, it really flabbergasts

me. I have to sp stop and think for awhile.

S: Well, I have, I have three sons, all of whom ft are teen-agers ajpresent. I

lead a rather busy life at home as well as at the office. Son's named John

Allen the Third andACliff and Hal. I ...

LUM 4, Side 1 --6--

B: All right, what are their ages?
S: The oldest is John who is 19. Cliff is 16 and Hal is just become 15.

B: Now who was Mrs. Sharpe before you were married?

S: She was Helen Sewell. She also is a native of Robeson County. She was born

and reared in Saint Paul's.

B: And I believe you received your college training at Duke University?

S: Yes..

B: What year was the, what years a were these?

S: I graduated in 1932.

B: I've often said to people, especially people outside the county,when I, there

was occasion for the Robesonian to be mentioned af that, that Mr. Jack Sharpe
of anybody
in our county had probably the most difficult job of editing a paper in the

country or one of the most difficult because we have not two races but three.

And I've come to admire you over the years because you always have a ready

command of diplomacy and a common sense and all those other things oand I think

it's, I think it's remarkable that, that you have endeared yourself to so many

people of all three groups and certainly you're one of the people I respect

more than anybody else in this whole world. You've been very kind to me and
I'm, I'm, M I know many people feel this way about you. But if they met you

as we're meeting you here today, you're so quiet and unassuming, I, you know,

I just wish that our people, our listeners will be able to, to meet you for

themselves because I, I, it's, you're xay very impressive.

S: Well that's very kind and generous evaluation. The less it's deserved, the

more it's appreciated.
B: What do you foresee taking place in Robeson County here in the next few years

or within the next, say, next decade? Or have you thought along those lines?

S: No, frankly, I have not. But as an immediate proposition, we 4-a in this

LUM 4, Side 1 ---7---

S (cont.): county what seems to me tkaHgeneration of new interest ikn in history.

For example, the, the historic drama which is now in preparation to be presented

in the summer of 1973. This, this shows a keen interest in history and its

presentation in the form of an out-door i drama. Even more recently a, a small

organization called Historic Robeson Incorporated, has just received its cer-
tificate of corporation from the state to engage in preservation of historic

sites and buildings in the county.

B: That's, that's interesting.

S: Linking it with the future, I, I'm inclined to think of it iIterms of the situa-

tion that /i 7'Ko .: described in his book Future Shock that as

the pace of living gets faster and faster and changes come about more and more

rapidly, people are inclined to look more than ever for something to cling to.

And their history, their past, their traditions and so forth are, are an object

for this, for this purpose. That is, they tend to turn back and look at where

they've been at times, because the present pace is so rapid that they can hardly

tell where they're going. It also helps to, to anchor the individual and the

community in, in a fast-paced situation.
B: Do you see a great improvement in, in racial relations in the county you know,

within recent years, well, say, within the past decade?

S: Yes, from a standpoint of my own observation. Now frankly this, this obser-

vation would not be as keen and sensitive as the observation of a member of

some other race who might be more racially conscious, so to say. But to my

xaw view, there has been a considerable improvement in race relations. Now

we've aimgs always had,Athat is within my lifetime, we've had individuals

whose, whose racial attitudes were pretty 9ada sound. I think that we now

have more people with acceptable racial attitudes than we've had in the past.

B: Well I, I'm sure you're interested in all the problems of the county and one

LUM 4, Side 1 ---8---

B (cont.): of the things I've always been very grateful for in my own experience

since I too, am a native of the county, being born here, brought up here, living

here through a major portion of my life, I've, I've always g felt that when

problems arose on occasion, I don't know whether I you would want me to mention

this or not but Kk there's nothing uncomplimentary about it, on the contrary,
this is a, this is something thak I admire very much,lyou've always been willing

to talk to me about certain problems that arose between, you know, sometimes

little incidents which do arise which might be very misunderstood or cause bad

feelings and I've always felt better knowing I could pick up the phone and

talk to you about it and that your, you attitude is always so objective..and

you know, we get the benefit of both views. And I'm sure many people feel

this way about you too because to me, you've always had the trait of being a

peace-maker, as spoken axiak of by the,in the Bible, you know, where they say,

where the Bible says"blessed are the peacemakers.' And frankly, you've always
struck me as this kind of pea personality. And this is one of the things\ I

think, one of the many things that people admire you for in this county. Not

everybody is as observant or as, to notice things like this. But I think it's
been, it's been very conspicuous to me for a long, long timeA your spirit of
good-will and so forth. And I think it's added so much to this county,your

being here.

S: Wfll as a, as a person engaged in newspaper work, I, I'm KnsEanxky conscious

of the fact that there will be enough trouble of different kinds spontaneously

without trying to stir up any. I, I feel that we ad adequate trouble just

in normal course of events. However, in this, in this county with three races,

there has been a, a need for people to get along together.

B: Right.

LUM 4, Side 1 ---9---

S: This, this is true everywhere but I think it is particular true in this, in

this county. Actually this, some of the remarks that you have made about my
in many ways, [me to
attitudes, I'll have to admit these seem to kHK reflect your own, in that I've

found you to be a person of great good-will who's interested in finding pro-

blems and solutions and reaching understanding. And I've, I've never mentioned

this to you beforelbut it has been easier for me to communicate with you than

it has been with a great many other people 'omehow we seem to be ahaable to
/A same
communicate. I don't think this is quite typically the/llhg with everybody

I come in contact with iCertainly not with everybody. But this ability of

yours to communicate with other people including people of other races, I

think is a, a cultivated talent which you have put to very good use.

B: Well I certainly appreciate that. You are very kind. I am conscious of the

problem of communications and I remember something that the Reverend Beanis

Brooks said one time, said if you, if you drive your listeners away, you won't

get to talk to them about their salvation, you know. So you got to find the

level where they are and try to reach them there. And, and I think I learned

a good many things Bam from him because he was a minister who I really spent pkT

a lot of work into his, his career. Of course he's no longer with us. Mr.
Sharpe, do you think, do you think industry is any great danger, the industry

that we have now? I'm thinking specifically of the Goodrich plant. I, this

is the biggest industry in the county, isn't it?

S: Yes, it has been since it was established several years ago. At the moment

it seems to be on a pretty solid foundation. This Converse Company which is

operating the plant now has a secure foothold in the canvas foot-wear business,

and it has a, a national reputation, particularly great acceptance among ath-

letes. Of course, nearly every high school boy considers himself a potential

LUM 4, Side 1 ---10---

S (cont.): athlete which makes this particular brand of shoe attractive to him. I

think we've got a very good thing at the moment and I hope it will continue to


B: WHai Yes sir. Well we may, do you think we may increase,our population is going

to increase or decrease or is it sort of holding its own, do you think? I don't

have any actual figures with me.

S: Well the xaKEKHx and trend in recent years a has been towards a slight decline

in population. This is not so much a decline in birth-rate as it is a reflec-

tion of out-migration from the county. And I would anticipate that in the

future, the, the birth-rate in the county will probably decline somewhat. But

that the population probably will increase if we find a little more prosperity

to attract people who have moved away from this county. There are, I understand,

particular from the employment agHxKm agency, the state employment security

commission, a great many people who inquire each year about the economic sit-

uation, yk the employment situation particularly, in Robeson County kEmKasK
because\they're living away from here. They're living in Greensboro and Balt-
more and Detroit, places, they would like to come back hoim, but they are, they

have jobs/they're making more money than they could make here)and until the ec-

onomic axndkiix position, situation improves, until employment opportunities

are greater, they do not find it economically practical to come hakx back to

Robeson County. But this love of Robeson County is rather characteristic of

the people living here and I believe particularly of the Indian population of

the county.

B: Well this is certainly interesting) This attitude of, that the Indian people

have. And I believe it's shared maybe not in as intense degree as with the

Indians, but people do, Robeson does grow on you, doesn't it? I mean, a good
you know, they
man? people/come over here and our county isn't, it's not one of the wealthiest

LUM 4, Side 1 ---11---

B (cont.): counties in the state and we do have some problems.but when they stay

for awhile, they seem to, to become very attached to the county)and many people

make this their permanent home. I'm sure you've observed this and so this is
I think
something that you have to experience Robeson xEB really to, to evaluate it.

Something seen from the distance doesn't seem to, it seemsto be different in

the distance than it is close even though we have these three races. Has that

been your impression? I mean when you really stay for awhile and get to know

everybody, it's a very peaceful, easy=going sort of existence, I think, that

many of us lead. An there's one thinglI think helps along these lines and

there's one thing that all of us have and this is respect for the other person,

particular the other group's point of view. I believe we do respect each

other's points of view. We may differ on occasion but I believe there's sort

of a feeling between the races that's very difficult to define,but we'd like

to get along, we want to get along. And we when things are going smoothly

as they do most of the time, it's a good feeling to come to Robeson County evne/

relax if you've been away on a visit. Sometimes I've gone oArDication and seems
to me/\coming home is the best part of my x9an vacation.

S: Well people who have come here from other parts of the country, some of them

have told me that they, they have found Robeson County hospitable to new-comers,

more so than other communities in which IhEy iixjn they've lived. As a long-

term resident of the county I, I really have no perspective in this matter, no

basis of experience of my own. But I have been told this by people taking up

residence here. Incidentally, I think that one thing that is found here is, and

here again I can't compare this actually with experience anywhere else but it's

my impression that there probably is more communication between races, between

different groups in xhk this county than in possibly the typical community. We

LUM 4, Side 1 ---12---

S (cont.): were speaking a moment ah ago about our ability, that is yaK nz yours

and mine, to communicate with each other. I think that throughout my lifetime

at least, there's always been an avenue of communication open between different

groups in this county. I've never knowndifferent races or different groups to
\T 1'54Ae
become polarized to the extent that communication was cut off. Elti this kind
-; A
of thing that, that is normal in this county so it's taken for granted but I

become conscious of it at times in reading reports from other communities in

which somebody will mention the necessity for reopening communication. Well

now we haven't had this problem on any noticeable scale that I can recall.

B: True. I, that's very interesting and it's certainly true and I hadn't thought

about that but this is, I think there're many, we have many plus values in
the county and money certainly isn't everything. We've, a necessary evil I

guess, of which I'd like to have more. But do you think our people are not
as concerned with economic strivings maybe as they might be in some of the

more industrial areas of the country?

S: Yes, I share that impression. As a matter of fact it's my opinion that if, if

civilization and progress in the usual sense had not overtaken us that we'd

be leaving, be leading more leisurely and relaxed lives than we are. It is

necessary now to have an automobile and buy gas for it in rxdax order to go

anywhere, in order to, to function in this society. Except for this necessity,

I think things would be much more slowly paced. Of course this is, this is

true everywhere. But I think that we have moved into the mainstream of society

partly from necessity, partly because it's not safe to drive a mule and wagon

on the super-highway.
B: Do you think that|out-migration we mentioned awhile ago, do you think it may

increase or decrease or hold its own?
my, that,
S: Well my guess would be that things have pretty well leveled off and that, that

LUM 4, Side 1 ---13---

S (cont.): we would have approximately well we've had, we've had a trend of decreasing

population, I would expect that, within a few years this population figure will

become stabilized and then later show an increase. AThis is purely guesswork.

Frankly I had figured we would hit dKity ninety thousand population in the 1970

census and we came up considerably short of that.

B: Well I, I don't want to take up too much of your time but I, I do want to ex-

press my appreciation again for your being willing to share in this with us.

And we're all willing to share whatever thoughts we have or impressions, any-

thing of that nature with other people who are interested. I think that perhaps

we could do a little bit more to encourage this sort of thing; it would make

for a better understanding of the county as a whole from the outside)too. We

have been in the news a great deal, this area has,and people are coming to know

us better. For example, the Old Maine situation. Some of the people in Wash-

ington were telling me that wherever they go there's somebody saying how's

Old Mainecoming along. And just a few years ago, of course, they didn't

even know about Old Main&or about our county maybe. But once in awhile we

do have KKEHi aktax stories that seem to capture the national interest and

this was one of them,and I think we've just about got it solved wouldn't you


S: Yes. Of course it is part of the nature of, of news that the unusual attracts

more attention. And oftentimes conflict attracts more attention than accord.

And Or part of the national awareness of the Lumbee Indians is based on the

1958 flare-up near Maxton in which the Ku Klux Klan was routed and more recently

the controversy over Old Maine. One of these had the potential of becoming a,

a disaster in terms of injury to people t didn't turn out that way. This

conflict over Old Mainehad the potential to disrupt things considerably at a

growing university. Apparently this is not going to take place. The solution

LUM 4, Side 1 ---14---

S (cont.): to it was found. In, in both instances I think it was demonstration of

the ability of the people in this area a to work out some kind of solution

even when A qAiffs of some kind develops.

B: Well that's very encouraging because Old Maine- was particularly e ouraging

to me because I saw people from all groups working together pkfpas perhaps as

never before. And the Klan incident you mat mentioned, this is one time I

feared that communications would really be i a xugh interrupted. But we

welled up that very beautifully and everybody understood that these were out-
side forces wha were causing the commotionand so there wasn't nearly the

amount of tension that might have been expected. The tension was mostly be-

tween the people in the county and kas people outside the county who came in

and tried to solve all our problems, so to speak, all our x or some of our

racial problems by intimidation and that sort of thing. And I, I think I was

never prouder of the county than I was during that time because good-will was

definitely demonstrated here,and when we're threatened from the outside, the

county seems to have the ability to, to unite very quickly. It doesn't, it

doesn't HaK necessarily matter which group it is, you know. Ran Robeson people

seem to take pleasure in ironing out their own problems, those that we can

iron out anyway. And this, I think this is an illustration of that, don't you?

S: Well it, it was. And I think it showed admirable restraint. In other words,

this could have turned into a quite bloody affair.

B: Oh yes.

S: The stage was set.....'r /7


LUM 4, Side 2 ---15---


B: il7if is tape 1, side 2 of K an interview with Mr. J. A. Sharpe% Editor I of

the Lumberton N.C. Robesonin. I don't know just where we were, Mr. Sharpe,

when we got interrupted. But we had said something about the Klan over there

and, on the other side, and we had made some remarks about the people present-

ing sort of a united front in this county during that time. I don't know

whether that would be an exaggeration or not. If it is, it wouldn't be too

much of an exaggeration. I think there was resentment from all, all three

groups in the county toward the Klan when *SAcame in. I don't think they had

too many people on their side in the county from any of the groups.

S: Well that, that apparently was the case. There's very little evidence of, of

support for the Klan or for its approach to the situation here in this county.
we keep
We have our problems and our differences and we're aware of them andpMrXH

working on them. And usually we are able to work things out in a reasonable

manner which does not make necessary to resort to any drastic measure, parti-

cularly violence.

B: Right.

S: This Klan challenge was taken up. But as mentioned restraint was used so that

it turned into a rout, but not a disaster.

B: Somebody asked me where I was on that particular night and they had been assmK

assuming that Lew Barton was somewhere on the front out there. And I said well,

-n e
I hate to disillusion you but I wasn't there that night. Said where we you.

I said I was home on my face praying to the Lord that nobody would k be i

killed and listening to the radio. I said somebody was broadcasting from the
a And
bottom ofithK ditch and telling me everything that was happening. I said I

figured that was a pretty good place kx for me to be. And,but if it hadn't

been for my visual limitations, I very well might have been there because it

LUM 4, Side 2 ---16---

B (cont.): was certainly an interesting thing. And when something's happening like

this, it's very difficult for people who write to stay away, isn't it. But, and

also I had a personal interest since I'm a Lumbee Indian myself and this is

whom the party, who the attack had been aimed at.

S: Well this, that particular incident brought the Lumbees to the attention of,

not only of the nation generally, but as I understand it, to the attention of

Indians in other parts of the KHmrky country on Reservations and elsewhere.

seems to me that prior to this time, there had been less identification of

the Lumbee Indians in Rh Robeson County with thE Indians in other parts of

the county than there has been since then. And I, I think the reason for this
was the distinctivemakxH of the Indian community in this county. THat is,

an Indian community which operated side by side with other races and very much

within the pattern of the overall structure of the area. There was not the

stand-offishness that I have heard reported in the case of Reservation Indians

who cling so closely to their tribal customs that they are resentful of any

efforts to include them in the general community so to speak. I, I'm sure that

this is less pronounced now than it has been in the past,but there used to be
quite a difference in that Lumbee Indians owning land, kkAafunctioning in the
total community as other citizens were in that way rather different :mn from

Indians on Reservations. But that, that K Klan incident triggered the imagi-

nation of people throughout the country and earned the respect of a greaymany

people throughout the country. And since then I believe, there has been an

increasing identification of the Lumbees with Indian tribes elsewhere.

B: The controversy about Old Main, Mr. Sharpe, was a little different nature, but

the attention it gained was tremendous too. But I was particularly proud of

this effort because there was no violence. There was a possibility that some-

body might do something very foolish at times because the Old Mainecontroversy

[UM 4, Side 2 ---17---

B (cont.): dragged on for months and months. \People got impatient and so k on but

here again, I think people exercised good judgment and nothing like this hap-

pened,_and I'm very proud of the Old Maine victory because this is something that's

of a more elevated nature. This is cultural, this is cultural grounds that the

whole thing is on. And it was, it was all conducted on a pretty high plane.

I didn't see anything connected with it to be ashamed of or anything like that.

I was very ahppy happy that it reached a point that it could be Rx concluded.

And what was so reassuring to me was the fact hat people all over the country

were willing to discus"S3 is. And we had communications from the White House

to the house next door. And we had support over this distance. And at times

kka ix9xsK migk- there might have been, the interest might have ka even been

greater x away than at home if it every lagged at home. But I think this is

a very noble cause that time. Well I think the Klan, the case of the Klan,

this was a noble cause too, but I was particularly proud of Old Maine'ecause

this represents the zenith of our achievements, our intellectual achievements.

What I'm saying I'm saying very badly, I know. But now we have to find means

a to raise funds to restore the building. And this is still a problem but

we aren't too worried. Wax We're, we're very encouraged nonethofess. And

we have had the State Department of Archives and History say that they would

recommend that it be placed on the national register and this is going to be

a big psi plus I think, don't you?

S: Well I've, I've felt all along that Old Maine and the symbolism attached to it

was really a great asset to Pembroke State University. Admittedly it does not

fit into the more modern building plan of the university as much as so as a

new building might do. But as a symbol and as a concrete reminder of the past
to thousands of Indians and other citizens of the county, 1A I feel that it
haslgreat value to the university. And a value which the university administration

LUM 4, Side 2 ---18---

S (cont.): will become more preciative of as time goes by.

B: I wanted to ask you just a question about the freedom of choice plan that all

three races in the county supported before the present integration plan went

into effect. And some people outside the county and outside this state were

suspicious that, that maybe pressures were being applied to some of the minor-

ities but I'm sure that none of this happened. You never came across any in-

stance of anything like this, did you?

S: None whatever. That is none to my knowledge, none that I have kahax heard any

indication of.

B: Well sometimes ...

S: I think freedom of choice represents the, the HS true sentiments of most of

the people. It's very logical that it would.
B: This is where we're misunderstood sometimes. 4People just jump at conclusions

and figure well they're putting, put some kind of pressure is being applied to

ka the group, minority groups in Robeson and they're, they're just Mi going along

with the landlords and things like this. But of course in Robeson as you and

I know there aren't any real, there isn't a real majority is there? I man

mean except in maybe a few thousand margin.

S: Yes, we have what amounts to three minority g races and any two of them repre-

sent a majority. As far as I know we don't have any intimidated minorities at


B: Right. Do you think this is, do you think this is a good condition, that it

gives us a good working basis that we could utilize this to our advantage in

getting along? And perhaps that we do, the fact aht that we have three groups

so nearly equal in numberSand so on?

S: Yes I think ki it has been a strong factor in, in maintaining good race xSai

relations in the county. I think it has been right along.

LUM 4, Side 2 ---19---

B: It offers us a challenge too. I believe that we may take advantage of once in

awhile. This challenges us in the practice of democracy doesn't it? I mean

because the groups are so nearly the same in number and there isn't one group

which towers over everybody else numerically. And it seems that we w could,

we could utilize this very thing to our advantage maybe more often than we do.

Would you agree with that assessment?

S: Yes I think that's true. And of course this is a, I believe it's called now

an economically deprive) area, a pocket of poverty. And we have not had possibly

the extreme economic differencesin this county that there have been elsewhere.

It's not that our poor have been any less pa poor but that our rich have

been less rich than in most other areas.

B: Well that's certainly one way, a good way of putting it. I ...

S: Something, something that has mHKKRm Kn occurred to me from time to time and

I don't know whether there's any actual basis for this belief or not, it's just,
just an idea. You know the distinctive, one of the distinctive things about

k our situation is that here is a, an area, a county in which the Indian pop-

ulation was not driven out, in which it stayed and there's never been any con-

certed effort to make a change in that. Now a great many of the early white

settlers were of Scottish descent,and many of them came here after this disastrous

Battle of Cologne in which the Scot, Scots were either butchered or subdued

according to the Scottish or English k viewpoint whichever you call it, but

anyway, it was a bloody disaster. And without every having khis heard this

mentioned as a possible factor, I have often wondered if, if this experience of,

6) defeat and oppression which the Scots had before coming to this county, may

not have made them less arrogant and hostile toward the native population than

in the case of some other early settlers. This is purely a personal conjecture

but I ...

LUM 4, Side 2 --- ---

B: Well it's certainly a good one and it, I, I believeithis is true. I believe

that our Scotch people have been, had a tendency toe hk to be more tolerant
toward the Indians here than some of the4population in areas where other In-

dian groups are located. I found a difference, a marked difference, for

instance, in Halifax County, not wi wishing to label any county or anything,

and Warren Countyy I did notice that there was a difference in the attitude

that they share toward the Indians than the attitude here and there is a very

marked difference. I livedthere two years and I was very aware of that. And

another thing I found difficult to understandxkk is that they were, they were

much more tolerant towards me because I was from Robeson and than they were

toward Aheir old, their own Indians, you know,and I couldn't understand this

but, and I, I was very careful not to take advantage of that. Because some-

times when you'd be in a public meeting, they, they'd ask you to come up and
you know,
would take care of you, if you was in line, you know, to get something done

like a.yrzell I won't specify anything but I always was very care, I was al-

ways very careful not to take advantage of those things and you know, just
very graciously thanked them and say no I'd, I think I' Astay here, thank

you just the same.

S: Well I, I think that it would be only fair to mention in this connection

that the churches have, have been a factor irx in the life of x Robeson County

among all the races. And certainly the influence of the church has been toward

a peaceful cooperation. And among all three races, there has been+ tendency

to accept the leadership of, of relatively tolerant leaders who emphasize

working toward goals rather than trying to make over the whole situation by

any drastic means. This, this acceptance of, of ax sound leadership I think,

along with the influence of the churches, has, has km done a great deal to sta-

bilize the situation in this county.

LUM 4, Side 2 ---2X---

B: Yes sir Do you think, do you think our people, among all our groups,

we have a tendency to accept aK compromise and to Hdx understand that we all

can't have, all of us can't have everything we want, and do you think this helps

us in ironing out our problems and difficulties simply because we, we do rea-

lize that we have to accommodate all three races here?

S: Yes I think that's the case. And, and some of us can recall having heard people

hark back to the days I of the kDepression and say that they thought people

got along better with each other during the Depression in many instances and than

they did in more prosperous times. But we've, we've had a, by United States

standards, we've been in a depression here in Robeson County almost permanently.

That is even in our best crop years, with our economy at its peak, we have not
experiencedAgeneral prosperity in this county that has characterized many parts
of the United STates. And it's not that we, tiks not that weAin favor of this

but it helps to keep us humble.

B: I think humility's a good thing. Well Mr. Sharpe I certainly appreciate the

time that you've given me and I feel a little guilty about keeping you as long

as I have already. And but you'veX certainly contributed so much to, to the

program and it just wouldn't be the same without you on there, you know, making

your observations. And I want to thank you again for the Doris Duke Foundation
and for all of us participating in this. You're alwaysjwilling to help out.
wkEHA there's a need for something like this and enlightenment is in your field,

informing people. I think a paper plays such an in important role in this

respect and certainly your paper has, has played a great role in this respect.

I wish we had time to go over, you know, the Robesonian in itself is a fas-

cinating story to me, from its beginning to its end. I, I believe it began

actually during the days of a great upheaval in the county. Do you remember

LUM 4, Side 2 ---2--

B (cont.): now? Smmm Sometime around about the 'seventies.

S: 1870. It was founded by a minister and his brother.

B: How many times has it changed hands in that time?

S: Very few. It, at the time my father came here in 1907, it was Hn ax owned by

a group of local stock holders who held a celebration banquet whenever they

unloaded it on him. They were, they were happy to have someone take over the

paper and take Ha all the risks involved. And it, it has been largely family

owned since that time. Governor, former Governor Angus McLaine owned a part

of the stock up until sometime in the '20s I believejand he finally agreed to

sell his shares.

B: Well it's certainly a respected paper. One thing that's always fascinated me

is that in some areas of the county when people, when the people say the paper
"II //
you know they mean the Robesonian, you know. They simply call it the paper.

S: We, we appreciate that.

B: And it's ...

S: We have tried to identify with the county and its people and their, their in-

terests and their, their pxmkiag problems and I think that is k the, the duty

and the province of a, of a newspaper.

B: Well again our thanks, Mr. Sharpe. You've very kind to have taken this time

to talk to us. And I'm sure that this will be very informative to many of the

people who are interested in the area. Thank you again. ... effect. Where's

the guitar? But he, he is quite a human being. I love that man. My son,

Gary Lewis Barton, is a fireman in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Once in

awhile he and I get together and play a litt( nusic. He's the only one of

my children who takes an interest in music. And here we're, he's playing the

anxKhap aRx autoharp and I'm pa playing the guitar. So we'll punish you just

a little with that if we may. (Music) Gary has just turned 21. (Music)

LUM 4, Side 2 --- A---

B (cont.): A group of Lumbee Indians got together not long ago and recorded an album.

And in a very recent issue of the Carolina Indian Voice published at Pembroke,

North Carolina, there x is an account and a description of that album. It's

called Lumbees and Friends, I believe. I'm going to get my 14-year-old son to

read this for you.

The son: Lumbees and Friends. A record album of Indian songs and chants, Lumbees

and Friends, has been produced by the Lumbee Regional Development Association,

four dollars each. The recording is compromised of twenty-five cuts ...

B: Comprised.

S: Is comprised of twenty-five cuts of the songs and chants of various Indian

tribes which have been shared withFe Lumbees. Album Note, explain, the

purpose is to further distribute American Indian culture Indians, American
c4// A4J-
Indian culture interest to owf-our Reservation Indians of = the eastern

United States. This record is intended to tell people of all races of the

efforts the Lumbees are making to KsxK strengthen their Indian nsmni community.

The voices in the songs and chants include the following Lumbees and friends:

Horace Locklear, L-o-c-k-l-e-a-r, Barbara Locklear, Willie Locklear, Red

Clark, C-l-a-r-k, Adora Clark, Doug Brotherton, B-r-o-t-h-e-r-t-o-n, Dave Rosar,

R-o-s-a-r, Chuck Ross, R-o-s-s, Robert Jacobs, J-a-c-o-b-s, Sylvia Jacobs, Don

Jacobs, aalDial, D-i-a-l, Jamie Cauble, C-a-u-b-l-e, Eric Sifford, S-i-f-f-

o-r-d, Claudia Shiner, C,S-h-i-n-e-r, Candy Chipman, C-h-i-p-m-a-n, Henry Ox-

endine, O-x-e-n-d-i-n-e, Rob, Robin Butler, B-u-t-l-e-r, Vicky Jones, J-o-n-e-s,

Lyle Yurko, Y-u-r-k-o, Ron Rozzelle, R-o-z-z-e-l-l-e, Joe Liles, L-i-l-e-s,

Mike Clark, C-l-a-r-k, Bryan Locklear, Dean Strickland, S-t-r-i-c-k-l-a-n,

and Gracie Jacobs.

B: Well thank you, Rick. That seems to be mostly Lumbees. I recognize the sur-

names of only two or three friends. And this concludes then our portion of

LUM 4, Side 2 ---25--

B (cont.): aHH pKmgram this program dealing with Lumbee Indian expressionespecially

musical expression, and also American Indian expression generally in the musical

field. Before I conclude however, I have to make a very embarrassing footnote

here. My son Ricky Barton is not quite thirteen, he informs me. But he's so

active intellectually and otherwise that I suppose I, it was not too unnatural

a mistake. Well, this is Lew Barton signing off for the portion of the Doris

Duke Foundation tape recording dealing with introductory material and especially

Indian music of today.


University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs