Title: Interview with Mrs. Brantley Blue (May 19, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007073/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Mrs. Brantley Blue (May 19, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: May 19, 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: UF00007073
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 86A

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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.
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Lew Barton/Mrs. Brantley Blue

May 19, 1973

B: Today is May 19, 1973. I am Lew Barton interviewing for the Doris

Duke American Indian Oral History Program under the auspices of the

history department at the University of Florida. Today I'm privileged

to be in the home of Compissioner and Mrs. Brantley Blue from Fairfax,

Virginia, and with me is one of my favorite people, Mrs. Blue, who has

consented to talk with us on this interview. Mrs. Blue, you are very

kind, you are one of the kindest people I know, and I can't say a lot
a 4,--k 1;4
more for I always choke upThen I try to say something nice about you

because it seems so inadequate You and the Commissioner have

always seemed to me to be the ideal couple. You complement him in

so many ways and you know they say back of every great man is a great

woman. And I'm sure that this is true in his case and I'm sure he'd be

the first to agree.

MB: I can certainly complement you very highly in many ways.

B: Thank you. How do you light living here in Fairfax?

MB: I like it fine. Where Brantley is, is where I shall be.

B: Thy people shall be my people.

MB: That was in our wedding.

B: That is beautiful, isn't it? And I'm sure you mean it, you're always

so sincere. Well, I'm glad you two got together and I'm sure there

are many, many other people-that feel the same way.

MB: Thank you.

B: And you have a beautiful home here in Fairfax. It's so quiet here

and you've been such a gracious hostess, having us in your home and


you're so very kind to have us here.

MB: It's people like you that help us to make things beautiful in life.

B: I certainly appreciate that I want you to tell me some little things

about Brantley and yourself that you don't mind telling; I mean anything

that you want to tell or talk about. Anything at all that you would like

to talk about. You might not think that it would be interesting to others


MB: He's a very busy man. We intend to retire some day to somewhere like

in the mountains and build an Indian cabin and do it all in the design

in which no one would ever question that it couldn't be the Lumbee home.

B: That's great. You have some things that remind me of Lumbeena lot.

You know, on the walls. Could you describe some of the things you have?

MB: Well, I have a portrait that my daughter has done on green velvet.

She's done by wine and by knitting, and then I have gifts that I have

had sent in from out west and from Lumbee country, and I enjoy looking

at them. And I enjoy it very much, especially when I'm down here alone

just working, inspires me. It gives me an inspiration to work that much


B: Did you ever think the Commissioner would become--you knew he would be-

come something great, someone great. You knew he was already, just

hadn't developed. But did you know how far he would go? Did you have

any idea of this?

MB: I had a great estimation, an intuition.

B: Tell me about, would you mind telling me about the dream you had? I've

had that impression--

MB: I dreamed that I'd fall on his feet underneath the columns and knew

that he was only twenty-two years of age.


B: Is that the columns here in Washington?

MB: This was in Kingsport. He was a poor lawyer where he was until I beset

at the lawyers table because he was an Indian until after he married me

and then they changed their lines right quick like and this is what I

wanted but I had this dream that he would either be governor or a federal

judge in which there's no question about whether he could be a federal

judge when he leaves this office or not or what he would be. But you

have to let a man lead his own fife.

B: Well, that's very interesting to hear that part of you course----

MB: You have to let a man be a man.

B: That's great. A man has to lift a woman to be a woman, right?

MB: Right.

B: Let each be each.

MB: Well, I wouldn't want to be a man. No, no, I wouldn't want to be a man.

B: Well, I'm glad you're not.

MB: Thank you sir.

B: What's good for the Commissioner is good for all of us. His many friends,

..., and you've been so influential in his life. Would you tell us some-

thing before we get back to him, tell us something about your early life,

where you attended school and things like this, things of the biographical

nature, that you can remember at the moment?
ry r\e, ar c
MB: Yes, I went to Vaundenfince High School and my father went to Milli~an

College, so naturally I attended Millihan College as most of our family

did. I didn't send my daughter to Millilan, I sent my daughter to

Pembroke where her father went to school because it was more important.


B: Who was your father? He was a judge---

MB: My father was, no he wasn't a judge, but you can walk into the area and

It believe you'd still find out who he is. He left such a record behind

him. He was the high sheriff of the fifth largest county in the state

of Tennessee, the first man to be elected in twenty-eight years and the

man before that was Joe Thomas, who was an uncle of mine.

B: For the sake of people who don't know about it, would you mind giving

us your father's name and your mother's name.

MB: My father was Ruby A. Milam.

B: How do you spell that last name?

MB: M-i-l-a-m. Owner of the Kingsport Milling Company. He was in feeds,

also real estate, and well)he was a very busy man. He built him

many things.

B: How did you and Brantley come to meet each other?

MB: On a blind date and a dare.

B: This date, would you tell us about it?

MB: Well this girl friend called me and she wanted me to meet this young

lawyer. I said I am tired of lawyers, I don't like lawyers, and I have

no time for lawyers, and I was dating Dr. 31L then, and I had, I

didn't have any time for lawyers.

B: The thing about it is that you didn't know about this one particular

lawyer, did you.

MB: Well, for Pete's sakes, I was head at the milling business, and I had

to go around and work with men, and I had to prove myself as the woman,

and I felt like I had done a miracle and then I had to fool with the

lawyers every time they turned around. In fact, our lawyer turned out

to be one of the best friends that Brantley had and he said, oh well,


he said, I'm losing a lawyer but I'm gaining a, I mean, I'm losing a

client, but I'm gaining a good friend and that's one of the best

friends that Brantley has right now, is McInturk Gainesford, right now.

I can call him right now and ask him for anything and--

B: Did you fall in love right away or---

MB: Well, not until he told me he was Indian. He told me--I said what

nationality are you. He looked like Daddy.

B: There is a striking resemblance between your father's picture and your--

MB: Yes, and he looks much like Daddy, and I worship my Daddy, and although

Daddy was very strict on 5"-rj 0h -' e could look over his glasses,

we always had dinner in the dining room, we don't live like this today.

But Brantley, I saw in him something and I saw what my father had turned

down. They wanted Dad to run for Congress. They wanted Dad to run for

this and for that, and he wouldn't do it because we had an estate, and

he says I'm happy at what I've got, and we did have an estate.

B: It seems to me--

MB: We had a mill dam and we had bridges, concrete bridges, and we had orchards,

we had hands, we had black cattle, we had ---

B: Were you brought up out in the country on a country estate or something

like this?

MB: No, you'd be surprised because the first man that Kingsport, see Dad was

one of the first men, and you have your choice. You pick your land.

So he picked it.

B: Did this young lawyer greatness, was it sorta a promise in the beginning

to you, or was it 5r0 o {, Y& cc< nl- 1 /f / ;f y IQ cd t\c ak Ct

MB: Well you see I had been in this terrible. my grandfather had given me


a new Dynafloe, +ravyu -- wth=sm enrtyr ., and he hadn't

even gotten my name on it, he was going to put my name as Dorothy

Milan on it, Dorothy Milam, Kingsport Milling Company,

B: This was in 194%, right?

MB: Well, eleven days later, thesebboys from State College, not Milligan,

but from State, they whapped the fool out of me. There was no way I

could go, I couldn't go that way, I'd go into a tunnel. If I went that

way, I went into a bank. What do you do When you see a car sliding

sideways into you?

B: Right, it must have been a terrible experience.

MB: It was, I didn't wake up for thirty days, and that's why I don't like

lawyers. Everybody wanted to handle that case. Everybody wanted to

handle that case, oh.' t/6cL -_ Crr. re /#j /Cl /1 4ir4/c cS

Naturally, they wanted to handle the case, and I just didn't like lawyers,

and in that contest there was only one and he laughed at me, because

I pulled my mother out of his office to go down and buy a new dress

with porcelain buttons down the front. This was in a shop that was,

well it was a department store, just close by.

B: How long did you live in Kingsport? This was where his practice was

when you met him, in Kingsport right?

MB: WEc it was hard to get him started.

B: Yes, it's pretty hard to get anybody started in any profession, I imagine.

MB: Well, I really thought that he could do it on his own. They would call

him Little Rovie when he- eirtnt- the courtroom because the judge was

Daddy's roommate, Todd, lawyer Todd was Daddy's roommate, lawyer u D0ooor)


--SBwas Daddy's roommate, and then there was Daddy, and all these

boys were fighting for Brantley.

B: Well, as I understand it then, the judge before whom Brantley did
S-jie e
most of his practicing was an old frined of your father's.

MB: Yes, yes, this is very true.

B: I imagine that it is kinda hard to establish a practice in medicine

or law, you know, well how long---

MB: It wouldn't have been too hard, but Brantley had to yell, I'm Indian,

I'm Indian, I'm Indian. And they wouldn't let himt1 at the lawyers


B: He's always been pround of that hasn't he?

MB: Yes.

B: I can imagine.

MG: And so have I. And so I fit the highest society since I was eligible,

and so I just picked NIg Deon, and I said Deon, we are going to have

lunch today at McRae's. She said why. I said because I said so. And

she said well, OK, you gonna pick me up, or am I gonna pick you up? I

said you're gonna pick me up. We're having lunch.

B: Do you think prejudice against Indians has its intents in this particular

part of the country?

MB: I think they tried to use it because they knew that he was the apple in

the eye of Lwu-enof the boys and Brantley wa staying on the

Democrat party.

B: He didn't change his political affiliation at all?

MB: He didn't change it, he didn't change it no. And Bill Elbert said this,


now I know where the colonel was, I've been with it too long, ever

since I've been ninety years old. You're going to move to a Republican

whether you like it or not, and you study the Republican politics,

and see what you think about it, and then he went, he went, he went

just like that. I had insurance companies and everything calling in

there. But do you know, I never once entered his office, except at

night to decorate it.

B: How about your mother, your mother and father, they liked Brantley

didn't they?

MB: My father was already deceased at that time,

B: I see, I'm sorry.

MB: I wish, oh Daddy could have meant/to my Brantley, so much. Because

look what he put Pete into. Bill Franklin, here he is the biggest stockholder

and Ben Frranklin, Roses, the Clandens, Ramseys, you name it, everything

from Blue Field toiwhat,is it in Florida where Walt Disney's doing his


B: Walt Disney World?

MB: Sebringnell. He's got two, two stores, two big stores there.

B: Now how long---

MB: And the other brother-in-law is on Black Angus and you can't mess with

that because he's ah-ah, what do you call it, takes care of animals,

well you know what I mean.
of you
B: How many/children were they in the immediate family? Did you have any

brothers and sisters?

MB: I've got one brother. He is a professor.

B: Where does he live?


MB: He lives in Kingsport also. But they love Brantley.

B: Uh-huh. I know they do. Brantley has one of the most remarkable

personalities of anybody I know. People---

MB: Well, they love him because I love him. They feel if he mistreated

me they wouldn't give him the time of day, you know.

B: Well, he's not gonnna do that. I've known him long enough to know

that he wouldn't do that.

MB: But, Brantley's not that kind.

B: And you have a brother--

MB: And he is brilliant, he is. If he can build a house for you, he can

do anything, but he's a professor, really.

B: He's a professor?

MB: Uh-huh.

B: Your family was very--

MB: Prominent.

B: Yes.

MB: Too prominent, in a way.

B: Sometimes that can be a problem

MB: Well, I just hope that it doesn't hurt Brantley none. It's put

Brantley where he is. Now right now he can walk into forty-room

mansion and be greedy and---gracious PrA\ A il (Ai 4'i 'c( 1 Af.

But he might be--

45e-f 4^ ----- ol\s~ b ,1,_bo ,yo. rt O... r yr, I rC


MB: I never thought anything about it. I was so busy with wedding plans--

B: You really had your men in flowers I bet didn't you?

MB: Well, my wedding dress alone cost over $525 and here they were

interested in the wedding, and all this and that, and all the

girls with dresses turned down, green satin and huge bouquets

of red roses. It was fabulous, it was fabulous. Well, Brantley

went into a stare, he just simply went into a stare. Bless his

heart, had I known, I wouldn't havepoked. I would have gone across

the state line, and gotten married.

B: Well, prejudice and things like this--

MB: I didn't know, I didn't know.

B: You don't ever know until, really, I don't think anyone ever knows

about those things until they come into contact with them. You have

to experience it.

MB: Well, what makes you feel so good now, is when you go back home,

Pembroke is home to me. Wehn you go back home and you see the fine

homes going t and being built, doesn't it make you feel proud.

B: It certainly does. We've seen marvelous progress in my life--

MB: I wanted to go back and fight, well, when I saw that Brantley was

more of less reacting differently, and in which I felt maybe that he

might be, to Kingsport. I'm sure that he was tired of being called

Little Broby, Little Sheriff, Little Big Boy, Little this and that.

I'm sure that he was mighty sick and tired of that, but I think that

maybe had we gone home and worked then, maybe we could have done more.

I don't know.

B: You have certainly done a lot. Aren't you very happy about

Wour ccrCC'CiP i. Doesn't that make you feel good.


MB: Well, a rolling stone gathers no moss. I know that. He's certainly

been nothing but a, uh--he hasn't been a rolling stone. But darling

don't you think that maybe had we gone home and worked--I don't know.

He'll be worked all over the state of Tennessee and--
B: But he XM work in the state of North Carolina because he was an

Indian, right?

MB: Why does that have to stop things?

B: Well, uh, those are human problems and I guess it took time, but don't

you think that it's improving along those lines. Things were a little

better now than they were when Brantley was coming along. Now just this

week, when Brantley was telling me about the four, I mean the five--

MB: Lawyers?

B: Lawyers who are graduating--

MB: Well, for all of this, that's him--

B: Uh-huh. They won't ever have to go through what he went with, through,now.

MB: Yea.

B: So this is improvement, and I'm sure this gives him a great deal of satis-

faction and you too for they won't have to go through the same problems.

They'll have a little bit better chance. At least they can practice law

in the state of North Carolina today

MB: Uh-huh.

B: But they couldn't have when he--now here's what it means...

MB: rSP hard to believe.

B: It is.

MB: It's hard to believe--

B: It is hard to believe. But I'm certainly thankful that, you know, it's


an improvement. We have it. This is what encourages me---and I know

that it encourages him. Because he wants things to be better for others,

than it was for him, you know.

MB: Yes, he's encouraged these boys very much.

B: I'm sure he has. Now he's very influential, isn't he? I mean he,

Brantley's influence is felt over a wide area and by many people

because he always encouraged others. He achieved great things. It

seems to me that's encouragement.

MB: Yes, that is. I certainly do.

B: Yes, and his heart ,... his heart if for such improvements and he's

been so consistent, you know, over the years.

MB: He'll receive his reward.

B: Yes, I'm sure.

MB: Someday for all he's done.

B; Now just with the knowledge of the five yourgIndian men graduating

from law school--now that's part of his reward right now. Part

of it, because this is improvement--this is progress. This is better

justice, you know, and it's reflected here in this five young men.
You can probably shake hands with -eek one of them, and not only them,

but many other--

MB: Where you have too. You have--you just don't know how much good

you've done.

B: I thank you very much.

MB: You just don't believe how much you've done.

B: So many of--well, I don't think anybody can be around Brantley very

long without loving him. Do you?

MB: Well, no, I Kinda doubt that.

B: He's serious, he's hard working, he has his dreams, and he goes


after those dreams q4/{t/l s ern- en',

MB: Hitch your wagon to a star. Yes that's what he always said.

B: It must make you feel very good because together you and he have

---well, you've come a long way. Not only to your selves, but to

others as well, Today -..-- / /.. y/ C0 A -V C.

to be discriminated against the way that he was and the way that

several other law students were.

MB: I cannot understand how anybody can discriminate against anybody.

I cannot understand this---to--my--it will notcomprehend.

B: It is hard to understand, you know. It isn't reasonable.

Somebody said that prejudice isn't reasoned into them now

and it can't be reasoned out of them. It's just an emotional

thing I think. Don't you think so? Maybe it's more emotional

than reason. It's sort of a .condition .

MB: Oh, yes. Being that its man--and being that you know so much

more than I do. But I'l Swannee. I just cannot. I cannot see.

B: It's hard to believe that these conditions still exist at tbht-time.S

It must be devastating to us. You know, to a young couple to come

up against this or problems like this, because you prdably didn't rea-

lize that this kind of prejudice existed until you came in contact

with it. Or if you knew it, it was a remote sort of thing, something

you might have heard about. But you just couldn't believe that--

MB: No, I'd never heard of that. All I heard was love stories of the

3aUng American Indian. No, I'd just never heard of that, or anything

so absurd.


B: What do you ah, what do you plan to do in the future?

Do you have any definite plans?

MB: His plans are my plans.

B: Right, I liked what you said about thy people shall be my people.

MB: They are my people. And you know my daughter used the same thing

in her wedding.

B: This is a beautiful...

MB: Thy people shall be my people. 'My people shall bethy people.
U AecQ nA-C4
B; He might still be,..he might still end up in the-scrx. supreme

court. Do you have any---

MB: It won't surprise me at all. No, it won't surprise me at all.

B: Knowing Brantley you know that...

MB: Oh, no, you're not taping this.

B: Yes, I am.

MB: Oh you are? Oh, no. Don't tape that!

B: 7,

MB: Wait a minute.

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