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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
APRIL 30, 1973
INTERVIEWER: LEW BARTON
INTERVIEWEE: REVERAND WARD CLARK
I: This is April 30, 1973, I'm Lew Barton interviewing for the History
Department of the University of Florida and for the Doris Duke Foundation.
Today we're over at the Lumbee Shopping Center in Maxton, North Carolina
which is owned by Reverand Ward Clark and hes graciously consented to
give us an interview. Reverand Clark, how do you spell your name?
S: That's W-a-r-d. Ward. C-la-r-k. Clark.
I: How many children do you have?
S: I have six and families--three boys and three girls.
I: Could you tell us their names and ages too if you can remember although
fathers seldom can remember the ages of their children.
S: We've got. the ddest boy is Tolbert Ray Clark and Ronald Clark
and Delton Ray Clark. The girls, Jeneatte Locklear, and Ruby Clark,
Carol Jean Clark.
I: I believe the only name there that would give us any trouble in
spelling would be Tolbert? That's T-a-l. .
I: Oh, I see, thank you very much. And, uh, who was it you married, Mr.
S: Ila Mae Jones.
I: You've got a tremendous shopping center here. Would you tell us what
kind of departments you have. You have more than just a grocery
department. You have a super market and furniture store, what else?
S; We've got a super market, furniture store, men's department, washer-
ette, service station, mobile homes, hardware, building supplies de-
partment, practically everything that you need to buy you can get.
I: Uh, you're a Lumbee Indian?
S: That's right.
I: Proud to be one?
S: Yes sir.
I: Is this why you named this the Lumbee Shopping Center?
S: Yeah, this is why that we named it. that we named it after .the people
it was the only Indian shopping center around and so I figured we ought
to name it after the Lumbee Indians.
I: Right, you've almost got a town here. You could almost call it
S: Yeah, it's. I'm hoping that it will be in a few years we hope to
have a small town which right now, we're still calling it a shopping
center. We hoping to expand and continue to grow and we don't know
what really we're going to end up with yet.
I: Did I ask you who your wife was before you married?
S: Yes, sir, she was Ila Mae Jones, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Griffin
Jones in Pembroke.
I: How long have you been married?
S: We've been married 23 years.
I: How old ae you?
S: I'm 45 years old.
I: Uh, I believe you got your college training at Pembroke State University,
is that correct?
S: Yes, I finished Pembroke State College.
I: Where did your wife get her education?
S: She finished Pembroke and Prospect High School--only finished the
I: Did you get your high school education at Prospect too?
S: Yeah, I finished at Prospect.
I: That's P-r-o-s-p-e-c-t.
S: That's right.
I: Uh, I was talking to you at the time when you opened up your super-
market over there and I bdieve you told me you had about a hundred
feet of store space on that alone or is my memory bad?
S: Well, it's about 4500, about 4500 square feet and. .
I: Well, you sure are growing and uh, most of your customers, are they
Indian or. ?
S: Well, we would say 98% of them are Indian. we have 1% maybe 111/2%
and about 1/2% white.
I: Well, uh, I've known you for a long time and I've always known that
you were a very smart boy and this certainly proves it. Uh, what did
you do before you went into the merchandising business?
S: Well, we started off farmers, and taught school for ten years.
I: Where did you teach at?
S: We taught. Walemore--that was a school about sixty miles from Pembroke
down at Bowling, North Carolina and then I also taught three years
at Federal School and started into the building program and had to
force myself out of the school house, because we started construction
work building homessand got expanded and had to end up getting out
I: I see. Uh, how long ago was it you started with your business here
S: Oh, we carted off with small furniture store about four years ago
and we found out tht out in the country with just a furniture store
alone you couldn't generate enough activity for the people to come
by so we had to end up doing something to get the people by because
you only sell furniture maybe one customer once a year and you may
not see him anymore three or four year. So until he uses up the fur-
niture, we had to generate some people coming by and I thought about
an automatic washerette.
I: Was that the second part of your adventure?
S: That was the second adventure because the people would come to the
washerette and what time they was out there, why, we'd have somebody
around where they could look at some furniture.
I: I like the way you describe it as an adventure. Of course, this is
what any business is, isn't it?
S: Yeah, that's right.
I: But you made yours pay off and made it successful and that takes a
lot of hard work and intelligent planning and everything else, doesn't
S: Yeah, it was a planned thing after we got started in it and began to
plan to see--let one counteract for the other--and the one business
would make the other business. And after we put in the washerettethen
we found that when people come to the washer to wash their clothes
they had to have some soap powder, washing powder and things of that
nature and we didn't have anywhere for them to get it. And they began
to complain about not having a supermarket then we felt that it was
forced in order to keep the washer going we had to have a supermarket
in order for them to browse around there and buy some of the small
items and this was some of the things that created a supermarket.
I: I see. Uh, yodre a minister. Do you minister to any church regularly?
S: No, I'm superintendent of our conference. superintendent of the.
I: Which conference?
S: Superintendent of the Lumbee River Methodist Conference.
I: I.see. well, I imagine in doing all this work you got in a good many
prayers too, didn't you reverand?
S: Yeah, we had to do that.
I: And that's always a good thing. uh,what do you envision for the future
for the Lumbee Indian Shopping Center?
S: Well, we're actually what we're concentrating now is trying to build
up an interest. more interest in people shopping at the shopping
centers the Indian people especially. Then we can get them to see
that we're definitely going to have enough support then we have some
more planners. we're the ladies are beginning to complain about
they need somewhere to buy their dresses and things of that nature.
We don't have anything out here for the ladies in- the nothing line.
And I think maybe perhaps that will be our next adventure whenever we
ready to adventure some more.
I: Well, that's great. It doesn't take long talking to you to see that
you're a sharp business man. And, uh, do you take part in civic ac-
tivities too and all this I know your church work. your business.
when do you find time to rest?
S: Well, we, .right now we're involved in some of the civic programs.
We're members of the Lumbee Businessman's Organization which was
recently started and I find that that is one of things we're more
interested in trying to gt it established. And, for recreation
why right now we're only taking off a day every two weeks and going
deep sea fishing this time of the year.
I: That's a good thing to do, but uh, you just take a day off. Doesn't
it work you day and night all this tremendous business you have here.
S: Well, we've got it pretty well arranged. It's made up of. more or
less. a family affair and got son-in-laws and children, brother-in-
laws and different ones around to help look after it and it's not as
bad as people might think because we do have good help, we have honest
help and that's the main thing because by sticking with their family
people in the shopping center we don't have to worry about too much
maybe getting gone. and so that gives us some relaxation where
we can take off some time and not have to be around all the time.
I: Well that's good when you have somebody you trust and you have your,
your wife elps too?
S: Only part time. She comes out and helps maybe in the afternoon when
tde original help for the day has made their number of hours and she
fills in until we're about ready to close cause beirng-out in the country
it's hard to set hours opening and closing. The people wants to run
in here after they get off work. Well, the people that we have hired
here to work why they feel that when the other people get off work,
why they're ready to go home too so we have to let them go. And that's
when me and her takes over from about 5 o'clock to 7 o'clock in the
I: What .do you mind telling us your political affiliation. are
you republican or democratic?
I: What do you think of the increase of republican voters in. not
a great number even now because this has been a one party county for
so long but they are growing can you envision the republicans maybe
getting larger as time goes on or do you think they're getting turned
off or what?
S: Well, right now in the county I think the republican party is gaining
power and particular county, uh, I think perhaps if the governor makes
a good showing and continues to go like's going why I believe in our
state that it's possible that we'll have a two-party system for a
while and it looks like the republicans might be gaining a little,
power in North Carolina.
I: Do you dink this power whatever power they're gaining is grudged to
them very much or do the democratic still feel that. well, were
so powerful just a few people aren't going to hurt.
S: I think perhaps the democrats have that feeling that they'll probably
get back in power but it's only going to last for a while and I think
they're being too sure of theirselve for many years but now by being
careless for the past year, why it's going to make a difference so it's,
now it's left up the republicans to really show good something good
and then he'll have a great chance of going on farther with their
pgagram. Bit strictly, myself, I'm a democrat:and I hope the democrats
will come back and take over again.
I: Well, uh, you were born and brought up in the Prospect community
isn't that right?
S: No, we was raised up on a farm In-a Prospect section and had to
walk from about five miles to. when I finished high school and
in order to go to college I had to walk five miles the closest
stop that I could get a ride and I had to ride back and be put off
and then had to walk about four or five miles in the evening to
get home so that was rain or sline.
I: Well, you've got the near. most nearly complete shopping center
operated by Indians by Indian people todya, haven't you?
S: Yeah, this is the only one I know of that's in the state of North
Carolina or anywhere that's owned by Indians. operated by Indians
and we can also say supported by Indians. The shopping center I
would say about 98% of the business that we do is Indian tade. So,
i t's a unique thing. It's owned by Indians, operated by Indians and
supported by Indians. This is what makes it proud to be the Lumbee
Indian Shopping Center.I:Uh, do you. you have customers who come in
from a-wide range then don't you?
S: Well, well we're getting them now. some of them comes as far as
sy fifty or fifty-five miles just to do their business. Or at least
fifty miles away. so we have a wide range of people coming in, now
since they have learned we're out here and we have what we do have.
to offer the people why they are trying to learn ways to come.
I: Do you think that people are learning to use economic pressures to
gt better lifes, .you know, to get things going better for them?
S: Well, right now it's this seems to be. this is going to be
next pushes that we have and our county in order to get what we
want, we're going to have to apply the pressure economically. We
take the money from them and maybe begin to control some of the money.,
then I think we'll be able to do a lot more than we have in the past.
I: Mr, Clark, what about the Lumbee Bank, are you .are you a stock-
holder in that?
S: Yeah, I belong to the Lumbee Bank as a stockhdder and I think the
Lumbee Bank is going to do real well.
I: You think the Lumbee Bank is also a plus thing for our people?
S: I would definitely I would say so. it's going to be a great asset
to the Idian people.
I: Can you see any results. about how long ago was it that the Lumbee
S: I believe the Rrst annual report is coming out today. I happened
to be in the bank. they're giving them out first annual report today.
So it's right at a year. maybe a little over a year, but the first
annual report out today so the growth of it from one year is tremendous
to see the-figures from the date he opened until now.
I: You don't know what your assets are as of present, do you?
S: No, I sure nd't.
I: Do you think these things reflect unrest and dissatisfaction among
our people with the way they've been treated or mistreated, which ever
way you want to put it'in the past by people who are in control of
S: Well, I think it has its effect on the people people not satisfied
as what has gone on in years past and they're trying to improve .the
conditions and several ways that people tried to improve and I think
now that they're really beginning to see the only way to improve would
be perhaps better education, get a better education .then, at the
same time, be proud of our Indian heritage and begin to support one
another and work with one another more closely.
I: I seem to recall that several years ago maybe five or six years ago,
you had a flood house and you were interested in community things
even then. Is your clubhouse still active?
S: Yeah, the clubhouse is still in operation and had their meetings
about once a month and hey still pretty well have a big force in
this part of the county from the regular club house. Their ambition
is great. they believe in certain thing. from what they believe
in, they really try to push forward for. right now, we're going to
have to probably stop te interview I have a customer who I know has
come over to look at a television I suspect we're have to stop it a
few minutes and look a here.
I: Okay, we're just flip the switch blade. Well, Mr. Clark I can see
how busy you are because customers are coming in and people do come
in the shopping center from many miles away and uh, as you told me
when you had to interrupt the' interview, you're pretty busy and you
sort of begged off and we can understand that and we thank you for
giving us this time because as I said earlier, this is a plus thing
of our people, we want to put our best foot forward and let people
know what our people are really like;this way we'll be able to promote
human understanding and do a lot of good I think.
3: I think so. I enjoyed the time and I hope it will help and any way,
as I told you, why our mcstomers or our people that work for me, why
they expect to get off like the people at the factories and this is
about the time that they're fixing to go in so I'm going to have to
tale over now and start working. I certainly enjoyed talking with you.
I: Well, thank you so much. You've-been very kind and you've made a
very valuable contribution to our program. We appreciate it very
much. Thank you sir.
S: Thank you.