Title: Interview with Dr. John Russell (April 16, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007087/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Dr. John Russell (April 16, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: April 16, 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: UF00007087
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 100A

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
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
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 100A
John T. Russell
April 16, 1973
Interviewer: Marilyn Taylor
Typed by: Sally A. White

T: My name is Marilyn Taylor. I'm recording for the Doris Duke Foundation, the

American Indian Oral Studies Program. Today is April 16, 1973. I am in the

Pembroke State University campus and with me is a professor who has agreed to

be interviewed for this program. Sir, would you tell us your name?

R: My name is John T. Russell.

T: Would you spell that for us?

R: Russell.

T: And what does the T stand for?

R: Tennyson.

T: Is that a family name, or is that, uh, where did it come from?

R: No, it's not, uh, I guess my mother likedthe picture.

T: It's an interesting name. Um, where did you, where is your home? Where do you

consider your home?

R: I was born in Indiana, and raised in Indiana.

T: And when did you leave Indiana?

R: I left Indiana about 1955, and moved to Orlando, Florida. And I was in Orlando

for about 14 years before coming,here.

T: Tell us something about your background, educationally speaking?

R: I've received a AB degree from Oberlin College in Ohio, uh, then I went to

O% I'^Y Western Theological Seminary, Northwestern University,.in Eavenston,

Illinois. Then I received a STM degree from the University of the South, at

Suwannee, Tennessee. And a PhD. degree from Indiana, University.

T: What's an STM degree?

R: A Master of Sqcro-theology. (?)

T: And, what is your affiliation, religiously speaking?


LUM 100A

R: priest.

T: How do you manage this, and be a professor, how many courses do you teach?

R: Well, I teach a regular schedule. Uh, .....(tape is turned off)

T: .... teach twelve.

R: Sometimes 15 hours.

T: What duties do you perform, for those of us who are not so versed in, uh, your

religion? What duties do you perform, here?

R: The last 4-' I'm a free assistant at, uh, at Trinity Church, Lumberton.

They've been without a rector since December, so I've been in charge of the

church. But I, my primary job is teaching at the University, itself. I go to

church on Sunday, anyway, so I might as well run things while I'm there.

T: Do you enjoy running things? Is this, uh, part of,,uh, your being a professor,

perhaps? Part of you being a professor of running, uh, it lets you run.....

R: No, uh, no, I don't think that's one of my basic motives. I like teaching.

T: Uh, let us establish what you do teach, then this, maybe, uh, it'll clear away

some of these fuzzy questions we're asking....

R: All right, I teach educational psychology.

T: And you, and tell us some of the other courses you have taught.

R: I teach, also, behavior modification in the classrooms

T: What in the world is that?

R: That's the therapeutic application of principles of behaviorism, to secure change

of behavior in students, and to increase their rate of learning, to decrease

behavioral problems in discipline.

T: Does it work?

R: Theoretically, yes.

T: But, does it work for real, in reality?


LUM 100A

R: It always works if you know the techniques of how to apply it. But it requires

consistency and, uh, precision.

T: Have you ever attempted to useit, other than, you know, just teaching it, perhaps

on yourself?

R: Oh, yes. All the time.

T: Have you ever used it on anyone else?

R: Oh, yes, all the time.

T: Were they aware that you were using it?

R: It doesn't make any difference whether they are aware, or not. Uh, you, uh,

behavior modification works) h7 conditioning works with people.

T: Give us an example, if you will, of, uh, some, you know, just for the layman

or the person, some of our readers are listening, how behavior modification

can work....

R: Uh....

T: ....To correct their behavioral problems, perhaps?

R: In the classroom.

T: Well, yes. Start there.

R: Right. Uh, many teachers are under the impression that, uh, if they give, uh,

a punishment for bad behavior, which is often just simply, uh, rebuking a child

for what he's doing, that this will cause the child's behavior to diminish, and

of course, it usually does diminish for.a little while. But what the teacher

is actually doing, is providing the child with attention, and many children

are so starved for attention, that they will continue to keep up a high rate of

misbehavior in order to get even the attention of being reprimanded. But, uh,

we have found in numerous experiments that if, if, if the teacher's attention

is, is keeping the rate of behavior of students, inappropriate behavior of

students high, uh, then if the teacher will try ignoring that behavior,-and at

the same time, searching for appropriate behavior that can be reinforced with


LUM 100A

a smile, or "That's good," or some other positive reinforcement, that,- tremendous

changes.of behavior can be made in children.

T: In what areas, this advanced, well, maybe outside of the classroom, uh, has this

ever been used in any kind of institution?

R: Oh, yes. It is used, very much, in, in, uh mental institutions, for instance.

Uh, uh, institutions for what are called the mentally ill. Of course, behaviorists

don't believe there really are very many mentally ill people. They think that

there are alot of people who have learned inappropriate behavior. That the

inappropriate behavior that has been learned can be unlearned, and therefore,

they are very much opposed to the medical novel of so-called mental illness.

That most mental illness is just learned inappropriate behavior. Uh, it's been

used in mental hospitals, and uh, in, uh, prisons and reformitories. Uh, it has

been used very greatly, in programs with retarded children, in special education

classes. Uh, now there's, uh, achieving wide acceptance in, uh, regular class-


T: What did, uh, steered you to go into psychology, to be a professor and teach

mainly, uh, most of most of your courses that deal in psychology? Perhaps the

human foundation of education?

R: Well, when I, when I originally came to Pembroke, Pembroke was developing it's,

uh, graduate program and I was, thejprinciple thing I was to teach was, uh,

philosophy of education, because I had so much philosophy. I had four years of

graduate work in philosophy. And, uh, but our graduate program was not ap-

proied uh, by the state of North Carolina because of the moratorium on graduate

programs in universities, so, uh, I had considerable background in psychology,

also, so I went to Colombia, at Chapel Hill, and did an extra year of

post-doctorate work, in psychology and was certified in the, in the school of

psychology on the doctoral level. So, I began teaching psychology, really,

LUM 100A

because this is what was needed. And, uh, I was turned on Lit..

T: Do you think, uh, behavior modification could be used successfully with young

people who have drug problems?

R: Yes, it is, uh, behavior modification is, uh, can be used, there have been

instances of people who have cured themselves. For instance, one, one physician

has cured himself of heroin addiction by, administering, uh, getting, a

shocker instrument and administering severe shock everytime he got the desire

for, for, uh, heroin. Uh, uh, these things are taken into consideration by,

by many groups that, uh, work with the drug problem.

T: Do you see that, uh, I don't know what, anything, uh, well, for instance,

marijuana, a lesser drug, I'm thinking of, than heroin, could it be used

effectively, here, in this area, I mean, in the area of marijuana it 4'\ .

R: Well, I'm sure it could because,l because behavior modification proved very

effective in, uh, in treating smoking behavior of cigarettes, and in treating

overeating, uh, as a matter of fact, it's probably the most successful program

that has been devised for cure of obesity.

T: Uh-huh.

R:" So, I'm quite sure it could be, used, uh, with marijuana addiction. One thing

you have to remember, though, about behavior modification, if you're trying to

modify somebody else's behavior, the only way that you can do it is to have

in your control, something that the other person wants that they cannot

get, in another way, or the ability to administer some punish--punishment

that is inescapable. This is why, sometimes, behavioral modification

becomes much more difficult in high school and with older people, because in

our affluent society, there is very little that, uh, uh, affluent teenagers

want, that they can't get on their own because they have so much money. That's

why one of the best reinforcements......


LUM 100A

T: But this is not true in Robeson County, in our county, here, is it?

R: No, it's not true even, even with some of our deprived children have, uh,

means of getting, getting more money than, for instance, than I had when I

was in.school, and I wasn't from a poor family.

T: Have you had, uh, much experience with dealing with, uh, young people who have

drug problems, or......

R: No, no I haven't.

T: Would you be interested in counseling with them, or anything like this? Does

this, uh, type of work interest you at all?

R: If it were, brought to, brought to my attention. Actually I have too much to do,

the way it is, now, to want to do anything more.

T: Uh, what made you decide to, uh, well, you hadn't stopped being a priest, but

actively, as such, anyway, to go into full time teaching?

R: Well, I wasn't even considering it, until I got a call one day, from Dr.

( Crt the head of the education department, asking me if I would come

to Pembroke and look at it. And, uh, I.......

T: How did he find out about you?

R: I suppose, through. the university placement bureaus. Uh, I wasn't considering

leaving Orlando, at all, but, uh, I did come up to Pembroke, I'd never heard of

Pembroke, and, uh, I stayed 24 hours, saw the tremendous work that Pembroke

State, University is doing in this very culturally, and ecomonically deprived

area, and I made up my mind, in those 24 hours. I signed a contract and rented

a house and went back and told them I was leaving.

T: What did you, what was your first impression of the Lumbee Indian? This is,

you know, in Robeson County, we are a minority. We have 3 minorities.; the white,

the black, and the Lumbee. But since this program is concerned with the, uh,


LUM 100A

American Indian, we want to talk about the Lumbees. What was your first, uh,

impressions or comments that you can, could make about them?

R: Well, I think one bf the first difficulties was, that I had was finding the,

discriminating between, between, uh, Lumbee Indians and, and, uh, white people.

T: You mean telling the difference.

R: According to their physical characteristics. Yes. Uh, because, uh......

T: Are you able to do that morro, now?

R: Yes. Usually.....

T: It kinda grows on you, doesn't it?

R: Yes. Because, I suppose, because everybody seems to discriminate on the basis fr4 C

around here. You finally get to the point where you can look at somebody and

tell if ) Indian or not, or if you can't, you can tell by their last name

if th Indian.

T: And, did you encounter any other problems, in the classroom ? I 1 ?

Did you find that they spoke out, boldly, or......

R: No, uh, there are some, there are some Lumbee students who, who, uh, do speak

out boldly, but, by and large, this area is the most, uh, with the students of,

uh, each of the races, they are quite reticent to do much speaking out in

class. Uh, and, uh, and this is one of the difficulties. We need to have,

to have much more, uh, conversation and, and, uh, questioning of professor's

remarks in the classroom. And you have to used a little behavior modification

to get this accomplished. Uh, I think, though, that this is because students

have, are our public schools are so, so poor. Generally speaking, in this
whole area, other trr /I \f C are predominantly Indian schools,
whole area, other I th~r ____a

or predominantly Black, or predominantly white schools, uh, they are pretty

poor. And many of the students have been conditioned to, to believe that the

most important thing about school is, uh, maintaining discipline, uh, everything


LUM 100A

in order. So, uh, uh, as, as a result, teachers very much, have been very

much concerned with, uh, having everybody sitting in their desk, and, uh,

making no noise, and they think, thereby, that, uh, and, and the student would

never dare to challenge a teacher. Probably because many of the teachers,

themselves, feel a little insecure, uh, if they were asked too many embarrassing


T: I used to feel sorry for my professors, when they'd ask for people to speak

out. Perhaps, I monopolize the class too much. It got to where, uh, it

seemed like once one person, it's kind of like, uh, well,.CB anQ

analogy, my husband and I were at a dance, and you want to dance, but you

don't want to be the first one on the floor. Once, after one person speaks,

it's a little easier.

R: Uh-huh.

T: But sometimes you don't get, always get that response that you _oEO for.

R: That's true, and you, and you really need to use techniques to get more people

turned on, but still people are very shy about, uh, doing it, because they've

been led to believe that the way to succeed in school is to keep your mouth shut,

and you'll pass.

T: Do you think it's the mark of a good student to challenge a professor?

R: Absolutely.

T: Do you like to be challenged?

R: Yes.

T: Why?

R: Because I like to. I, for one thing, I don't have a feeling of inferiority,

so I don't, uh,.......

T: Do you have a superiority complex?

R: No, but I don't, I don't, I feel secure in things we're talking about and I


LUM 100A

like to. I think alot of people, once they get started, enjoy bull sessions,

and you learn, probably learn more in good bull sessions, in the university,

than you do just in straight lectures.

T: Well, I think you've done a great deal to aid in classroom discussions. I

know the first class I walked into, of yours, you feel that, often, mortal

fear, you know, that the professor is somehow God, and he's controlling your

life, your destiny, 'cause he's got that grade. Uh, and there's still pro-

fessors around, like this. Do you ever feel that way?

R: I've never felt that way in my......

T: In other words, that's....

R: I don't recall ever feeling that way in my educational career, because I, all

the way through, I delighted in, in challenging professors. And the ones I had

the biggest fights with, were the ones I always got the highest grades in.

T: Have you ever told your class, your students, that?

R: Yes. Yes, but just telling them that, doesn't, uh, undo all the conditioning

in class.

T: You live in this immediate area, do you not?

R: Yes, I live in Pembroke.

T: How do you like it here, as compared to, uh, and this may be a loaded question,

but, uh, ......

R: It's very...

T: It's a different kind of life, I know.

R: It's completely different from the kind of life I had before, because before I,

I, if I ever did get home in the evening, I think I +ieto watch television, and

the phone would ring twice during the, right at the denouement of some murder,

mystery, or something. Here, in Pembroke, things are so quiet, that, uh, you have


LUM 100A

a great deal of relaxation. I suppose you can get tired of it after awhile,

I'm beginning to wonder, after four years, whether I've had enough isolation

and peace and quiet.

T: Do you feel that you're isolated, you're isolated in an isolated area?

R: Yes, on the whole, I certainly do. I think that, and I think,uh, possibly that,

uh, uh, white people feel that, they're isolated in living in an Indian town,

because there are many, uh, Indians who are reluctant to, to be too friendly

to white people. Maybe it's because they don't consider them a friendly part

of the community. Uh, and maybe because they think they don't have quite exactly

the same interests, of, uh, the people in Pembroke are all tremendously, for
4he 'rrt-
instance, involved in their churches. But Lheta very, I think there are some-

thing like 17 churches in the town of 1700. So, everybody's very much involved

in them. And, uh, that, plus the fact that you are white, there's alot of,

among some Indians, certainly not among........

T: Do you feel this is religious discrimination, maybe?

R: No, it's not religious discrimination, but you just don't have anything very

>' much in common. If they're, if they're Baptists, and they belong to, to the

High Hope Baptist Church, then their friends tend to be the people in the High

Hope Baptist Church. But, uh,.......

T: Do you see the Lumbee as being a politically inclined people?

R: No, I'm afraid they're not, I'm afraid that nobody around here, seems to be

very politically inclined. Uh, it's, this accounts for part of the back-

wardness of this area, because this part of North Carolina has been, uh, greatly

discriminated against by, uh, by government for many, many years, arid the people

still continue to vote for the, the, uh, conservative southern democrat, uh,

politician, who really are t faithful to keeping the status quo, for the most

part. I think maybe there's a beginning of, uh, of, uh, concern about politics.


LUM 100A

Uh, in trying to, uh, for instance, in the double-voting issue, in regard to

school boards in Robeson County, the Indians have been terrifically discriminated

in that regard. There used to be only 1 out of the 7 members of the Robeson

County School Board were Indian, although 5-54 of the students in Robeson County

schools were Indian. Now they have 2, 2 out of 7, but still 60% of the student

body is, is, -uh, Indian.

T: Their still lacking representation, aren't they?

R: Yes. They certainly are.

T: We have, now, a Tuscarora group that's come on the scene. Do you have any

students in this group? I understand there's a few on campus.

R: I, there may be, we talk occasionally about things like that in class, but, uh,

I don't believe that the majority of students U Lumbee students, from

what, from just the casual conversations I've had with them, or we've had in

class, are very sympathetic with the Tuscarora students. Some of them seem to

be embarrassed by the political activity of the Tuscarora students.

T: Do you find the rapport, um, with the students, your Lumbee students, any

different than any other group, or rather.......

R: You mean, they're rapport with me?

T: Yes, with you. Are students, are you able to reach them, talk to them as well

as you are any other group?

R: I would say so, yes. Some of the, uh, some of the, some of our very outstanding

students are Lumbee. Some of our very poor students are Lumbee. But poor students

are, are poor primarily, I think, because of their, their past inadequate

school ing:. Uh, many Lumbees tend to speak, uh, in a, uh, with an english dialect

that is not standard english. __v_ it doesn't produce (Sagreement of subject

and verb. And this, uh, is upsetting to professional educators, alot.

LUM 100A 12

T: But are we not getting a little more, uh, liberal with dialects or, uh, accepting

of them?

R: Yes. Yes. Yes. We, we do. And we don't want to ridicule the way they speak,

because actually they, they need, in dealing in their own community, they need

to be able to speak the precise, uh, dialect that is spoken by their group. But

I think that every educated individual needs also, at least, a second language

to learn standard english.

T: If that test bees as hard as the last one, I just don't know if I can make it.

R: Yes, this, this is, I'd never heard this expression before.....

T: This is Lumbeeism. If you live around here, uh, I find I've picked up words,

and if I'm not careful, they'll come out. It, it's just sort of contagious.

R: Some people used to say that, uh, sections of the.county, uh, which were

isolated for so long, spoke a form of Elizabethan english. I haven't really

seen that....

T: Um-hmm.

R: ...but they, they certainly do have a have a dialectical way of saying things

which is, which would make a, make a grammarian cringe. That which, that

perfectly useful and communicatable for other people. It's Very much like,

uh, ghetto language. If I went down and tried to communicate with the Black

people in Harlem, on the streets, uh, it might be a, they would think I was an

oddity because I didn't understand all the jive talk that they use.

T: Well, I'm sure you've been here long enough nbowthat you understand, but did

you have trouble communicating, at first, or understanding some of their


R: No, I never had any......

T: .... or the dialects? Or was it that, to what degree?

R: I ever had any trouble understanding them. I just, uh, you, you can't,


LUM 100A

having gone to school for so long, you can't, uh, ignore the fact that, uh,

they, uh, many of them do use dialectical english.-In other words, many people

have said they murder the king's english.

T: Um-hmmm.

R: But, uh, and I do think that it's necessary, absolutely necessary for their success,

uh, because most of them will be going out of their communities, they'll be

teaching other children who will be going out of their communities, for them to

learn standard english. And tis very difficult for them to do.

T: Well, since you mentioned that you are a priest, and teacher of psychology, this

would be in your field as maybe as, uh, as it would sociology, uh, research

support, that, uh, suicide is the second.highest killer among college age

students. This is as though he's coming out of high school into college. Um,

what would be your comment on this, what would you think about it? The rea--,

some of the reasons for this?

R: I doubt if suicide is the, is so important a factor around here. At least I'm

not aware of it, really....

T: No, but this is on a national.....

R: ....on a national scale, yes. I think alot.....

T: Is the.....I was, gonna say, is the pressure or the frustration level so high,

that they, uh, pressure from home, do you think they feel that here?

R: Yes, sometimes, sometimes, the gap between one's real self and his ideal self

or his aspirations is so great that it seems impossible to close that gap.

And, uh, sometimes a person just wants to escape and get out of the, of that,

the terrible tension which is caused by the distance between these two. So....

T: This is one of, they done a study, they found that this is one of the, the

Lumbees, particularly the older group, do have a high rate of suicide. And,


LUM 100A

uh, nervous disorders, alcoholism, this kind of thing.....

R: Well, one of the things that, that is even more noticeable, I think, than

suicide rate is the, is the tremendously high rate of mayhem in this county.

I've never lived in a place where there were so many, uh, people being murdered

or stabbed or shot at....

T: ...for a small quiet place.

R: ...for a small quiet place, yes. And also, there are a tremendous amount of

automobile accidents, which is, uh, surprising to me. That there is.....

T: You sound almost, uh, disenchanted with, uh, the place, with here, could this


R: No, I'm not disenchanted with the place, because I think that merely confirms the

fact that this is a, this is where one can, can, uh, beauseful. When I was in

Orlando, I had a school which was for, the school for, privileged children.

And I got tired of being a chaplain to rich people. Uh, and I think.....

T: Why? It would seem you have the ideal kids.....

R: Oh, it's easy. We had no, no problems at all. If we ever had anybody with a

discipline problem, we'd just expell them from school.

T: Um-hmm.

R: So, uh, we always had lovely children, lovely students. But, of course, we don't

have any discipline problems in, in the university. The-students all here,

back other places other places in the country, are tremendously respectable,

I think, to the professors, at least, to their face. And they do anything you

tell them to do. They never make complaints about anything. They never cause

any disturbances in the classroom, and they always write down everything you say.

T: Do youJlike this?

R: Well, I'd like for them to have a little bit more liveliness.

T: In what way? Speaking out, verbally?


LUM 100A

R: Speaking out, yes. This, because, uh, you use the term research support. Research

supports the fact that people who are, become orally involved in, uh, learning,

learn much faster and retain things much better.

T: It's certainly a way of keeping your attention on the subject, if you're able to

participate in a discussion.....

R: Yes, that certainly is true.

T: I've found that to be true.

R: It, it becomes meaningful to you, then. And the only kinds of learning that,

that really are retained, are learning that are meaningful, that you have been

involved in, yourself.

T: I recall, sometime in one of your classrooms, you were telling something about,

serving time in the service?

R: Yes.

T: Would you tell us something about that?

R: Well, I spent three years in the service. 2 years I spent with the IrYi

1 0Q1 r in China, in the second world war.

T: You're just, uh, a young man, now, but you were quite young then, were you not?

R: Yes, I was quite young. I was eighteen.

T: And how did you.manage this feat, for one so young?

R: At..he-icner-I-was-____ .

T: Wow, you must have had a little bit of brain, for something like this. What was


R: Well, they didn't ask me if I had any brains when I was drafted into the United

States Army.

T: Well, how did you get this post, so to speak, at such a young age, uh, it seems...

R: Well, I did have a high AGTC, Army General Classification Test. And I suppose

that's why I got into this, uh, business. I was theAop secret cryptographer,



LUM 100A

personal one, for General$ CV if, {lU% r/-

T: This is not'a time to be modest, so I want you to .....

R: I'm not being modest, I don't believe in false modesty.

T: I want you to go ahead and tell us all about it.

R: Well, I don't remember too much about it anymore. I, I went over to, to be the,

to have this position of being the, doing the top secret work of these generals,

but actually, I ended up being, uh, chief of signals of west China, because

there were so few, uh, the signal corps companies who were sent over to us were

incapable of doing very much, except stringing wires, and fixing radio sets.

So, we had to set up schools in China, to train people how to, how to type, and

how to use, uh, cryptographic machines, and so forth.

T: How many years of school have you had, all together, all of your life?

R: A terrible amount of time. Four years for a Bachelor of Arts degree at Oberlin,

three years for a Bachelor of Divinity at Sc r,,t) Western, and another

year for STM degree at Suwannee, and I did my PhD. work in, my class work in

15 months. That's 3 months more for writing my, I went back to write my


T: What was you dissertation on?

R: On phenomenalogical psychology. And, uh, then, I have done a year of post-

doctorate work at rlf'V_ 4 and Colombia at Chapel Hill.

T: And, was, some of this was done while you have taught here, has it not?

R: Yes, during the summer time, mostly.

T: And I believe you took. a trip abroad, or something like that.

R: Oh, yes I've gone abroad, usually, at least every other summer Uc l rcfe

T: Have you been able to, uh, on these trips, been able to observe or investigate


LUM 100A

any of the educational facilities, or school situations, there, in these other


R: Not very much, no.

T: So you were not able to compare, educationally speaking.....

R: No, I went for fun.

T: You went for fun. Well, that's good. I was gonna ask you what you did for recre-

ation and fun, since it's so isolated around here. I tend to agree with you some-

times. I bury myself in work alot of times.

R: I read all the time. I have a personal library of about 4 or 5 thousand books.

So, I read all the time. Maybe life is passing me by, while I read.

T: Well, uh, do you live alone?

R: Yes.

T: Do you have any help, at all?

R: Yes, I have a maid.

T: And, I believe, do you have visitors come up from Florida

R: Right, I have lots of visitors from Florida.

T: I was thinking like some of the people from the church you were telling me


R: Oh yes, and I have my former housekeeper from, from Orlando, that comes up with

her sister, uh, about every three months to make sure my house is all in good

working order. It's hard to realize that they're in their seventies, now, but

they still work like mad, and they, they're so afraid I'm not being taken care

of properly.

T: Uh, uh, doesn't it make you feel good to have someone who cares?

R: Yes, I like to be loved like most people.

T: Uh, and speaking of love, we have, uh, it's been said that we are living in a


LUM 100A

liberal age where free love, nudity and this kind of thing, reality, do you see

it this way? Is it a liberal age where there......

R: They're certainly not very liberal around here. Uh.....

T: I haven't seen too many nudes running around, but I know what you mean.

R: Uh, our university is extremely conservative, uh, this is, we live in the

middle of a of a Southern1Protestant Fundamentalist culture. And really, there

is hardly such a thing as, uh, Indian culture around here, anymore. There's

a Southern Protestant Fundamentalist culture.

T: I want you to go into that a little, explain that a little more. What do you
mean there is hardly any Indian culture around here? We have, something like

forty-two thousand Lumbees in this county.

R: Yes, and they.....

T: ....in the surrounding county.

R: Most of the Lumbees have, have as there primary social attachment 4 their

family, their particular church. There are more rural churches, for instance,

in Robeson County, than in any county east of the Mississippi.

T: Um-hmm.

R: Which is interesting that there are more rural churches and also more mayhem

in Robeson County.

T: That's sure a paradox, isn't it?

R: Yes. I think there is, there is, among all the races in this area, the, and I

don't think you can pin it down to one race, a kind of a, among certain elements,

there's a kind of a, a, uh, machismo, which is, uh, uh, a male, uh, determination

of men to assert their maleness by rather extreme measures. I think that one

thing that accounts for alot of the mayhem, is that if a person, if a man loses

an argument with someone, he can always end up winning this argument, if he kills


LUM 100A

the other person, or stabs him,.;or......

T: Um-hmm. It seems to me, the Lumbees have a, uh, fierce amount of pride in this

maleness, or manhood, or......

R: I don't think it's necessary to limit it to Lumbees. I think it's, I think it's

in the three races around here. Maybe more with the Lumbees, I'm not sure.

T: Do you, uh, associate closely with any of the Lumbeer \t _____It'

social lu', ? I know we have some on the faculty, but I'm notpaware of

what the social......

R: Well,.....

T: ...life is here, or what.

R: Uh, socially, there are poss--, there may be 3 or 4 Indian friends that I

associate with, that I eat with. Uh, but,uh, and go places with, but, uh, my,

my social contacts are relatively limited. Uh, other than 2 or 3 of the, uh,

white professors who live here, in town. Those are my social contacts in

Pembroke. I, uh, I have, I have nice neighbors, some of whom are, uh, all

my neighbors are Indian. Uh, some of them are very friendly, and they bring

me vegetables from their garden and we, uh, we have nice talks when we happen

to meet, but we don't really carry on much, uh, social life together.

T: I understand you're a great cook. What's your favorite menu, so to speak, or

do you have one?

R: Oh, I don't really have any, I, it's become a necessity. I got a book called
C.. eN-
the Joy of Cooking, so when( hear of something, I just look up and see what

the Joy of Cooking says about it, and I follow the directions, and that's all

you have to do.

T: Did you have any experience in cooking, before?, CkS To r^e ., perhaps,

a galley, or &-ething like this?

R: No, uh-uh.


LUM 100A

T: Just for necessities. Do you find cooking a joy?

R: Except for washing the dishes, I don't.....

T: I agree. That's where you should leave for your maid to come in.

R: I do. I rinse off my :dishes and leave most of my dishes for my maid, if I'm

not having company until she comes.

T: What are your, do you have any long range p\l you ee in the future;

or will you stay ii. teaching? Have you decided you like LNAr ?

R: Oh no, I don't think I'm satisfied with my life because, uh, maybe wouldn't be

trying to make any progress if he weren't satisfied, but then I feel I probably

ought to do like writing some books but I don't really have anything to say,

yet. And I think it's kind of immoral to write books when you don't have any-

thing to say.

T: They're doing it everyday.

R: Yes, but I don't, uh, I think I might become a much better teacher, so that, uh,

people would, so, so what the pre-service teachers learn at the university would

really have an impact on the schools in the county. And I think that's beginning

to happen.

T: Well, I believe you've-got some distinction. At least, your picture was in the

paper. Some award was given, one of the best educators in America.

R: Uh, uh, I hear you're recommended by your department head. Uh, my department head

has never heard me teach, but, uh.....

T: But he heard......

R: ...he must have recommended me.

T: He's heard the results and seen them, I'm sure.

R: Maybe, I don't know.

T: I've talked to him. He recommended you, then what happen" .


LUM 100A

R: I don't know. I really don't know.
7 3
T: Is it at all? I wondered how it was done? Or how a


R: I'm not very familiar--I do know that you have to be recommended by the head of

your department, but, uh, I don't think it's very significant, really.

T: Uh-huh. Do you find the rapport with the institution, the cap and the gown, is

somewhat disgraced, like it ought to be with the community. In other words,....

R: You mean, between the town and gown?

T: Yeah, right.

R: I think, probably, that the university, in most respects, is the town.

T: Isn't?

R: Is ithe town.

T: Is the town.

R: And, uh, I think the leaders of the university are, by and large, the, uh, the,

the leaders of the of the people in Pembroke. And I think they are the most

prominent, uh, uh, opinion leaders in this, uh, area.,

TT What is the most significant, uh, change that you've seen since you've been here?

It might be inj OV v it may be in attitudes, or anything that's........

T: Well, I think that the accomplishments of our students, as representative, for

instance, in the, in the much higher scores on the National Teacher's Exam, that

they're making is quite significant.

T: Um-hmm.

R: That's the most important thing. We have tremendous new buildings and things like

that, but that's, uh, we don't have nearly enough, uh, facilities to do-the 4 0

"6AJ '"1i job. But this, as I say, this, this part of the state has'been so:-

discriminated against by the state authorities.

T: Let me cut this, just a minute. (She turns off the tape.)
(EM) sio< \-7


LUM 100A
John T. Russell
April 16, 1973
Interviewer: Marilyn Taylor
Typed by: Sally A. White

T: OK. I believe we were talking about discrimination of.....

R: .Yes, uh, for instance, in this area, of, of the state, there are relatively few

teachers who have master's degrees. The reason for that is there is no institution

that is authorized to, to, uh, give master's degree work, here. Uh, if students

want to, teachers in this area want to get a master's degree, the state says they-

should go to Chapel Hill, which is, which is, uh, ridiculous. Because a teacher

normally begins doing her, her master's degree work, uh, on Saturdays, or in the

evenings. And it's impossible to travel 2 1/2 hours to, to take a course, take a

three-hour course, once a week at, at, uh, Chapel Hill, or East Carolina University,

and get back here, again, and be able to continue your, your work. So, as a result,

teachers in other parts of the state are rapidly getting their

master's degrees after they graduate. Our students aren't able to do that. Now,

we've recently, uh, we have, we have, three, two, or three years ago, we, we set

our complete plan for graduate work at, at, primarily in education at Pembroke

State University. It was an ideal plan, we certainly had a highly qualified

staff to, to, uh, do this. I believe that there is no education department that is

superior to ours, now, in North Carolina. But, uh, uh, still, this has not been

funded, although, although the funding wouldn't be very important, probably because

Sof rivalry among universities, but because, through the years, this part of the

state has been regarded as a backward part of the state, and, and they're supported

in, mostly in the form of welfare handouts to the people.

T: You are aware that, if you go, if a teacher goes to apply for a job, now, they're

only taking Class A certificates.....

R: Yes.

T: ....where as they used to, you know, before 14 tl-fo IN whatever.


LUM 100A

R: That's because of the great, u ..

T: The teacher T'ls"" it not?

R: Yes.

T: Except for, uh, perhaps, Indians. Do they need better teachers, uh, Class A .....

R: I think there are, I think there are, uh, plenty of Indian teachers also. I think

Indian teachers are having a difficult time finding a job, unless they go to an area

.here, away from Robeson county, and f Ct t17(f1Aeen what to do there. They

think that Robeson county is heaven for some reason. I think they feel a sense

of isolation, if they, if they, get away. They've been so discriminated against

for so many years, here, that they really feel they are peculiar and that it would

be hard for them to move into the, just, uh, uh, a predominantly white, uh, area

oi the country, for instance, and to feel accepted, although some of them don't. Uh,

I was not aware that there was such, uh, discrimination against, uh, Indians until

I came to this, to this area.

T: How did you react to this? Did it make you feel sympathetic, or just take it in

your stride, or.......

R- No, I thought it was.....

T: ....try to do something to....

R: I thought it was a very, uh, I thought it was a very ignorant, uh, kind of approach

to, the _, and I suppose it has it, it's roots in history with the, with

the intense, uh, emotions that were aroused by Henry Berry Lowry and his, and his

gangsterism, or, uh, which ever way your looking at it, or his being a folk hero.

T: He's the, uh, Robin Hood of the Lumbees, more or less.
vc i-y
R: Yes. But, of course, white people didn't.consider himAmuchoffaRobin Hood, when

he, when he killed their grandfathers, and, and, uh........

T: Have you read the book 7T filf)- (^.rby William Edwards?

R: Yes.


LUM 100A

T: What did you think of the book?

R: Uh, wha-, I was glad to read it because I was here. I didn't think it was, was one

of the most outstanding books I'd read. I think it could be done better, but.....

T: Did you, uh, were you able to feel anything for Henry Berry Lowry, though, as a

human being? I mean, was he able.....

R: Oh, yes.

T: The author, was he able to convey......

R: Yes. Yes. I think he certainly would feel sympathetic with the great injustice that

was done to him, and you can see why he was motivated to start on his rampage of

killing white people. But, uh, I don't believe in violence, as, uh, as a method to

achieve anything. I'm like alot of the people, modern people. I'm kind of amazed

at, uh, at the turn of events that have, that has occurred in society,- with Black

SPower movements, and Red Power movements. I've always believed in racial integration.

And, I think, I, I, I personally think that, uh, that extremists in Black Power and

Red Power, uh, can become as dangerous and unwholesome for society as the Ku Klux

Klan is for the whites......

T: Um-hmmm.

R: .....point of view. I had one, uh, uh, student, in, in, who was a, who was the

leader of the Red Power movement, and he wrote papers saying that, uh, um, it was a,

I asked them to review the, review a book that was written by a classmate of mine,

Charles Reich.

T: The Greening of America?

R: The Greening of America. And, uh, he said that, uh, of course, Indians always had

the high ideals that the third consciousness that Reich seems to favor, has of living

in peace and harmony. And his paper seemed to say that Indians were always, uh,

always noble and, uh, fair, and peaceful, and that's alot of malarkey. Indians

practiced slavery, they had, they had, uh, cruel and inhuman practices. They did


LUM 100A

not allow any kind of diversions of opinions or, from, uh, tribal viewpoint. And I

think that's just a, that is just..........

T: Is this true of all Indian tribes that the.......

R: I'm not sure it's true. I'm not that much of an anthropologist that I know about all

Indian tribes. But I do know that Indian tribes did, and some of them even practiced

human sacrifice. I think that anybody that wants to make, to make primitive society

of any kind, uh, a utopia, is nutty. There was no personal freedom, where there was

a real tight tribal organization. So that, uh, and I told him I thought he was

just, uh, he was just putting forth a bunch of racist nonsense. That, uh, you don't

do, uh, you don't do the cause of Indian people any great benefits by, by, uh,

painting a picture that is not true. Uh, there's no final comfort in a lie. You

have to, there has to be, uh, uh, truth had to be faced, regardless of how much it

hurts. And, uh, I don't think it's true to say that primitive Indian society is


T: (Rpplies something unintelligible).

R: And, ha1r C there's another great difficulty among some of the Red Power

students. They want to return to stringing beads and, and, uh, Indian handicrafts,

which had been, really, completely dropped in this, in this area, because, because

of the, the Lumbee Indians have been a part of the Southern Protestant culture for

so long, that there really isn't any, any bonafide remnants of their culture, that

I'm aware of, that are left anymore. No language, no art, they, they certainly

know the arts of agriculture since most of them are, are, uh, farmers, but their,

the arts they have are exactly the same kind of arts that the black and white

farmers have.

T: Uh, many people that I've gotten interviews from, the Lumbees said the Lumbee lives

very differently from the Whites or the Blacks, you know.

R: It's true. They all seem to have.......


LUM 100A

T: We have some that's high on the totem pole, financially, economically, is, uh, on

the way down, and as you said, we have some very poor.

R: Yes, but you see.....yes, some, some, there's much abject property around here, that,

that most of the, of the Lumbee Indians that I come in contact have the same old

middle-class values that, and, uh, aspirations, they all want to get the nice brick

home, and, uh, in Robeson County, and have a nice car- And =dr- well-thought-of in

their church and their community.

T: I had a question placed to me several times in interviews wih1 and

this is kind of one of my cups of tea, so to speak. And -hey say, uh, you don't know

what it's like to be an Indian. Well, true, you know, none of us can take on another

person, but how do you answer this? I said, well, you don't know what it's like to

be White. We all have problems. But this is also, seemingly, uh, sort of a, ourseelve

S&C)our petty needs, or/you see it that way. What, what are they saying, when

they say this?

R: I think, I think to be any kind of a minority is, is to, is to make you wonder whether

you're going to be accepted at times. Uh, we, we can't,-being in, my being in, uh,

in, uh, the majority race, am not aware of how it would feel to be, to be ,

although I have been in, in minorities of various kinds, at times, and that.......

T: In Robeson County, you're in a minority. We have 3 minorities, here, the Indian,

the Black, and the.......

R: Yes.
Ldc3O'rQ UfU'I,
T: ...7yar in a minority when year white.

R: Yes, sometimes, sometimes I feel, uh, a conscious effect that I'm white and I'm, when

I'm with a bunch of Indians. There's an interesting experiment we carried on for a

long time in my classes. When we talk about i psychology, I always ask

people to tell me in three short sentences, who they are. And, uh, they, I've never,


LUM 100A

only- once, only once, out of all the hundreds and hundreds of students I've had,

has a Caucasian, or a white person, ever mentioned as part of his subconcept that

he was a Caucasion, or that he was white. But, ver-, very frequently, almost always,

Black people will say, "I am John Jones. I am a Black person." Or, something like

that. And quite often, probably 75% of the time, Indians will say,"I am an Indian."

As part of the, the first thing that they will say, "I am, who I am. I am Indian.

I am female."something like that.

T: Could this be interpreted that they are proud? And, of what they are?

R: No, I think, I think the way they interpret it is that they are always conscious

about it, because if you are Black person, for instance, and lived in a, in a society

where you are being discriminated against, you never, maybe, maybe, say 90% of the

people would accept you for what you are. Uh, you never know when you are going to

come up against the other 10% of the,representatives of the other 10% of the people

who will reject you solely because of the fact that you're Black. And, I suppose,

that Indians having been brought up in this very segregated society, where Indians

were so, were just as segregated as, as Black people were, uh, kind of wonder whether

when they meet somebody of, ofur;! white race, whether that person's going to,

"'going to, automatically be prejudiced against him because his, he has a copperish

colored skin, instead of a white colored skin, or because his name is Locklear, or

Oxendine, instead of Russell.

T: Have youqver been accused, or maligned that you, perhaps, were prejudiced, uh, in

giving out a grade or anything Tn your position you could have........

R: No, I never have been.

T: ....Just because I'm an Indian, you.....

R: No, I never have been, because, uh, almost all the grading is done on an objective

basis. People are kept.wellaware of where they are, and what they're doing. Their,

most people are aware that, if they need any help, they;can get it from me. And I,


LUM 100A

maybe, offer them too much help. Uh, so, 'cause I don't want, I'm not, I want

to teach people, not flunk them. And, uh, no, I have never, I've never had anybody

to make an accusation like prejudice.

T: Well, I'd say you're pretty successful in a community that's been accused, many

times of being prejudiced with Whites, Lumbees and Blacks. I want to ask you one

other thing, uh, the Tuscaroras, which, now, have 2 factions, they've split again.

4ILhx _PC C__I I understand, now, they have Black support,

behind them......

R: Well, they've had Black support, they seem to have had Black support, but, uh, I

read in the paper just yesterday, or the day before that the Black students at

Charlotte University have withdrawn their support because they couldn't they
(o/ I4Cr ;FCrk
couldn't identify with the ideals of the Indian movement. Now, __ who

is a black organizer, is still with them, but, uh, I think they, they were deserted

by the student body at Charlotte University.

T: 3 4- J, { L44i^ someone mentioned that, uh, made this analogy, that Martin

Luther King, in the Black movement, got things done on a more passive basis, through

legal means, but yet he had the Black Panthers, back there, as a threat that he

could bring in. And this is what they saythe Lumbees are more conservative, that

the Tuscaroras are, and the Lumbees want to go through the legal channels.

R: Yeah.

T: But they got the Tuscaroras, there, for the threat force PY U)O I'--.

R: And they work that way, sometimes, you know, they say, the squeaking wheel gets the

Uh, it may be true, that Black, uh, alot of reforms were made in

Watts after the riot, there. That if we get the Tuscaroras strong enough, ,

maybe the attention of the Federal authorities, who reture to Robeson county, maybe

somebody'll start thinking, maybe there is something to all their protests, here.

So, it may be, the Tuscarora movement may be, uh, beneficial in the long run. Al-


LUM 100A

I do think, that, uh, that, uh, because most of the, in my experience, I don't know,

I haven't taken a poll, but in my experience, most of the LumbeesI know are rather

embarrassed by this business, and obviously, most of them have not supported it, in

the sense of going along with this, because it was a very small group that went and


T: What do you think about the gutting with the burning of Old Main? Cr r7

0A I such a campaign to save it,

R: Well, I just have a big question mark, I can't imagine who in the world would want

to burn it.

T: I think that's e)ly .

R: Nobody seems to, seems to know why people think, some people think, because of the,

because the Tuscaroras are militant, they- might have been involved it it, but the

Tuscaroras are among those who wanted .it saved and reconstructe4,so that LiS _

make much sense to me.

T: You think, uh, just in '_ that perhaps, if an Indian had done it, perhaps

he was paid handsomely, av)who would want to pay someone?

R: I can't imagine. I really can't imagine who would, who'd think that they'd benefit

from this? I really can't. /

T: ) I 6 eIL :IiAburnings as you say.

R: Yes, we've had lots of burnings, probably too many of them that appear to be just

T: Well, I think there's about more, 2 or 3 weeks ago, reported "tk e- -/

l/'TC Ctfn .r. I want to get back to you for just a minute. How do you find

your students, now, you know, four years ago you came here, you were green your first

year, and you were green to this community, and you sort ofr-A M Ct LvrL ,

6(i'id and I know you feel more confident 6 O t 4 and, but do you see this confidence
in your students? I'm sure you don't l A N#-CC\ university gsee nd, t i


LUM 100A

buildings, but, uh, we've taken on new programs for teacher conferences, dti -

perform, rather than to just write, or.......

R: Um-hmmm.

T: I wonder if there's been as much change as many community,.=", ) C f?,.'. change
here.A /Ar'A &c i ^e-)( ) 0 --r
here. ind of sidetracked here. What I'm saying is, did the

college grow along with the town? Do you see this? Or did you not, or could it,

we've had several come in.........

R: Um-hmmm.

T: Ah, what seven Aittlee 6Ir'C i / I(t j C some place to eat. And not

G \ Ct3 little more, we do have a little more, uh,......

R: Yes.

T: But, did the college bring these things in?

R: Yes. Pembroke's it has become quite well-known, uh, I think in this area, because

so many people come in to Pembroke from this area, of all races. Uh, and I think

that because, uh, some Indians are making more money, uh, national concerns have

seen fit to give franchises to these, what used to be regarded as little :,,/,/_(,
, As a matter of fact, uh, I understand that white people used to be afraid to come

to Pembroke, that it was regarded as kind of a Dodge City and were shot at

if they came around.

T: Well, the reason I think they couldn't go to Lumberton without, they could spend

their money in a department store, but they couldn't use the rest room, or they
buy a hamburger Aad-a CocaCola........

R: Yes, that's right.

T: So, in short they.......

R: None of that S> IC-when I was, since I've been here.

T: That has come and gone I think.

R: Um-hmmmm.

jlt~A: Id-. 2
C,- Kc


LUM 100A

T: Well, you've been a goodc___ so we hope you'll be around for a lot longer,

y ou^ ^ ^.. // Qo! L- c

R: Wel, thank you.

T: .. E favorable comments all around and I want to thank you for

myself, and on behalf of the Doris Duke Founddation, for this interview. I hate

to cut it off, but I know it's an imposition to you........

R: Thank you very much, I've enjoyed it.

T: ......Dr. John Tennyson Russell.

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