Title: Interview with Jason Lowry (April 18, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007086/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Jason Lowry (April 18, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: April 18, 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: UF00007086
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 99

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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.
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
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LUM 99A Wells, typist

Taylor interview w/
Jason Lowry,
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

LUm 99A


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

State University.

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

your job?

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

Lum 99A


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

further information.

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

Lum 99A


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

the job.

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

Lum 99A


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

of situations.

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.

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