Title: Interview with Earl Homer Strickland
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007111/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Earl Homer Strickland
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
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: UF00007111
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 124

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Full Text


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and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

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LUM 124A /
DATE: AUGUST 30, 1973

I: This is Danford Dial interviewing Earl Homer Strickland. Earl Homer Strickland.

S: O.k. my oldest brother's name is W.J. Strickland, he's married, and the father

of three children. The next in line is my sister Janette, who also has three

children. And then the next oldest is my sister named Carolynn, who is the

mother of two children. The next oldest is a brother, whose name is Harold

Ray Strickland, he is the father of one daughter. And next is my brother

Ronnie Strickland, and there is I, and then I have a brother whose name is

James Edward Strickland, and then below him is another brother, Johnnie

Ray Strickland who's a sophomore in high school. And then I have two

sisters, Sharyl Strickland, and Lynelle Strickland, and then the eleventh

child is my baby brother whose name is Jeff Kent Strickland.

I: Well Homer, would you tell us something about your educational background

and your education?

S: O.k. Uh, my elementary and high school education was received at

Prospect High School. Aa

I: Where is Prospect High School?

S: Prospect High School is on Route 3, Maxton. And my college work has been
A krst
done at the University of Massachuset&1s% at Wt .a

I: Now how did you manage to go all the way to Amhurst to get your education?

S: Uh, during my high school days, I was an Upward Bound Student, and during

one of the summer programs I met a gentleman who was a counclor in theta

program, and who was also a student at the University of MassachusettS.



S: And he told me a great deal about it. And through his influeace,..and..and

my eagerness to attend, I went.

I: What type of scholarship did you get?

S: Uh, the University of Massachusettj) was one of the first schools in the

nation to set up a program especially designed for minority students..-. ,

when I applied, the program was two years old, and there was a lot of things

to iron out. And we've had many problems with the program, being on a large

state-wide campus. but sL, the reason that I was able to attend, was because

of this scholarship that was funded through Ford Foundation, and partly by

the State of Massachusetts.

I: How do you feel about being a minority up there among all these white


S: Uh...that's a psychologically evasive question, and one can never really
pin it down. It's almost like a paranoid feeling. The only person that you

have to conquer is yourself, and yo- .you can't be shy. You can't say how

these people must be thinking You...-you always must maintain a positive

attitude towards people. h it's very easy to sit back and say, well I think

I'm being discriminated against, and therefore feel like you should withdraw 1

within yourself. But you must continue to be an outgoing person, to sort

of overcome that feeling.

I: Well that's wonderful. How did you learn this, being a rural boy from va

the Lumbee Indians here in Robeson County?

S: Well I spent three years at the university, and wu. I wished I'd had that

attitude when I first went. It would have saved me ok a lot of pain and?

and growing up to do. But this is just one of those things that time will

only tell. It's one of those things that you have to think out for a long




I: Did you have any particular person that took special interest in you,

and invited you ror guided you along when you went to the University of

Massachusett s?

S: Well, when I went, the only person I knew warsthi,-is the one I

referred to that was the initial contact. And then once I got there,

j.A through my-iethe own power of my personality I made many


I: What's your feeling...do you have a different feeling up there in the

University of Massachusetts than you do when you come back here among

the local whites?

S: Def initely not. It uh...to be a psychologically healthy person one

an'A.Au can't have two personalities. He can't -...e-e*4 -be one person

here, and another person there. He can't have a split personality. And

it.it's very comforting to me to know, for to be a happy person) you

have to be the same person in both placeseaSa4-h, I don't think my

attitude, or anything at all about me changes when I...when I go to

school or when I come home. I think I'm basically the same person. I

react to people the same way. Uh, and that brings up the point about 3 e

people being different. The people are different in that ph in Pembroke

the people are more traditional, and up there things are more liberal, so

the changes have to come within me to react towards the people in general.

I: You say the people are more traditional in Pembroke, and here in Robeson

County...do you think that's healthy, or...?




S: Bh...ell, it's healthy for them, but it's not healthy for me, because I

have to interact with Ai===it the people. And if myl-r4f my life is

being tuned to nine months of liberalism, and nine months of independence,

and nine months of free thought...to come back to a community where

intellectual endeavors, and schooling and education aren't as highly

prized, where uh...where the liberal thought is't;-y-yunknow, isn't that

accepted. It's sort of hard on me.

I: In other words, you say you prefer the liberal way of thinking and

living rather to the traditional way?

S: No! I ,ki find good points here, and I find good points there. It's going

to be my task in life to combine the best of two.

I: Now what do you plan to do alter you finishzthe University of


S: Welluh. when I go back, I'm going to start applying to law school. .I

would like very much to go to law school.

I: Why are you interested in law?

S: Well at the university I was a sociology major that coupled with my

background .,.t has given me in-ate into a lot of the social problems,

and the political issues of the present day. And I've always been interested

in that sort of thing. And then my work experience, I worked with

Neighborhood Youth Corp for three summers, dealing with poverty cases,

aad-4in undeveloped situations3 .under-priveleged situations. And I feel

like I could share something, and I would like to try.

I: The fact that you are from a minority group, and you worked with under-

priveleged k people, does that give you a feeling that you would like to



I: ...help them or enlighten them, or vyha what particular thing drew you

toward these people?

S: Well, these people are my people, and uh, basically, deep down in our

hearts, we're no different from each other. I can't progress as a person

unless they progress with me. lh.. a...L.. L l,. .that is a small

philosophy that -,-tat I adhere to. And -h, I still feel like I have

something to share, and I'd like to try.

I: And you feel like that you would 4ar spend your talents and your abilities

better by training to be a doctor, and helping your people than you

would if you would go out of there for just the vocatieialehenefits and

so forth of being a lawyer?

S: l, well, in all cases, and I think with all people, one has to tuh-

establish some sort of equilibrium for me and for the group that I'm

going to serve. .nb, in question to what I want, and then what I want bt.

to give to my people. Aa.as for a doctor, I was never that interested

in medicine or in science, so I couldn't be a doctor because I don't have

that interest. But I do have the interest in the social and the political

thingsO aed that is neededand that's what I have to give. I don't have the

science background or ro..-the love of medicine to share.

I: And what has really motivated you to go into this particular thing?
4Me 5rxe
Was it your family life, your family background, beeeusaof your family?

The desire to help unfortunate people?

S: Well, there's a little bit of prestige involved of course, but I like to

discount that as much as I possibly can. Uh, I think I've had a very unique

and rewarding experience in that ....I've been able to see where some




S: ...change, some social and political change is necessary. ;A, in a

minority community where there has been a shortage of political influence

and power, there's always & desire for equality. And--h, the old saying

is, that if you go out in the street and rebel, that's not where it's at.

You have to go through the legitimate channels to bring about any change.

And in this country the legitimate channels are through the...through the

judiciary system.

I: Do you think our judicial system here in Robeson County is fair? and-uh,

Ao you think everyone gets an equal chance or equal opportunity?

S: No I don't. ts if I felt that way, I don't think that I would feel any,

any desire to go out and change, because then it would e. t ww.- be

satisfactory for the people. But I don't feel it is. There' s-.thereLe a

lot of racism and discrimination involved, and the most difficult thing to

do in a case like that to initiate any changes, to be accepted. And in this

case to be accepted is to attend law school, and get your degree, and pass

the bar.

I: In other words, you're trying to forget some of the impulses or repulses

that you've faced as an individual?

S: No, I dirw-r9i don't think I'm trying to deny them. If anything I want

to admit them, and work from it. Wk ..if I can combine all the experiences

that I've had, arn all my desires and wishes, and still come out wlt4, with

that need to be a lawyer.

I: How do you feel about the...gae revolution-.a..that's taking place among

the young people? How has that affected you personally?




S: ni, wVtll-ta L well my.,ay maturation process &sr-isn't all that

complete, and I don't know if my attitudesJ.ha will be the same

they are tomorrow. But at the present -h, I'm of the opinion that if what

we have now isn't working, we should change it. And 444 a revolution-y

hQa. in the sense of the word is a bit radical. But I'm in favor of

change if what's in the present isn't working. And so in the hearts of

young people I'm for the revolution. If the young people have the

discipline and the knowledge to go ahead and work up an eftable system.

I: Do you feel like the young people are getting away from tradition.and a,,

stability in the home as the cause of this, or what particular brought about

this change?

S: Well, I feel that vrr rbke a lot of the laws of this land and vaQ a lot

of the institutions effectt young people. And 4U, for a long time these

institutions have ignored young people. And now young people are to make a

imprint on it-to make it am*a...more accustomed to their needs. And with

ab..the new laws that grant eighteen-year-olds the right to vote, and with

their desire and enthusiasm, with their liberal ideas, and with their sense

of justice and equality I think young ma ir yonai people will make a mark

upon this country.

I: Do you feel like that uh, there should be some other way to help promote

ube education and some other atmosphere for the Indian boys and girls, or

do you feel like the atmosphere has changed enough here to bring about a

real dynamic change in aun u'b Robeson County?

S: Well Ia.., find things changing very, very slowly. 99 education I feel is

the most immediate source of change. tS e can't wait to inherit wealth,




S: ...we can't wait for a miracle to happen, education, j.I feel is the key

to advancement. With_. .ah more knowledge 7and with more understanding of

the present situation, we can work for., -.e a change that will benefit all

people. And in this community, traditionally, the schools haven't been all

that great. And uh, until our educators come around to the point that our

education is the most important thing to a young people I feel we're

going to suffer a little bit. I'm one of the newer generation who..,e

has went away to school, and I find it a positive and rewarding experience.

And I-..-I recommend it to anyone because it's a change. It's...-4& new

blood added to the system. It's more ideas and more thought than the

traditionally oriented schools around here I think can offer. And with

the new programs, with...aiSh the many opportunities for Indian money,

with ib especially with u. programs like Talent Search of LRDA, I feel

that young people will find some new blood/and will bama back with new

ideas. And that education will be where it's at.

I: A lot of our young people though when they find this new blood and these

new ideas, they don't return back here, they stay away.

S: Now I..- can relate that personally to my case. t Lt i..- it's a very

strange experience. It's something that hasn't fully happened with me. But

my thoughts about it is this, that b. it's very hard for people to under-

stand the difference between living in this community and going away. tf,

it's something that you can discuss with very few people/and find that you

get any understanding back. Uh, it's very, well, in my case, the two-.. he

we states that I live in...North Carolina and Massachusett s, are different.

And a person ena =.can't change residences very frequently. Now when my




S: ...student days are over, I don't know where I'll be settling, because I

find that there are more opportunities, in my case right now, in

massachusetty than there are in North Carolina. And it's one thing, of

love of people or desire to help, versus personal benefit or'...e

things like that. My psychology, my...my thinking process....



LUM 124A
DATE: AUGUST 30, 1973

I: This is Danford Dial, and I hope you will understand that there's an error on this

tape. This is August the thirtieth that I have just interviewed a former student

of mine, Earl Homer Strickland, who is now attending the University of Massachusett3s

in his senior year. Earl Homer Strickland is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Willard

Strickland. And he was the son of a ten ant farmer, uh, with eleven members in his


I: How many boys Homer?

S: Six boys.

I: How many girls?

S: Four girls. Well there's seven boys, I'm not counting myself. I-efave

I: Seven boys, and four girls?

S: Right.

I: Eleven children in his family, and his father's name is Mr. Willard Strickland.

Now Homer has told me quite a bit about his college life and his ideas and his

thinking on the other side of the tape. But we want to go back to his ideas/pand

get some of the things that *.* he would like to tell us. Homer, would you continue

your interview, and tell us some of the ideas you have about the local situation,

and people, and the Indian and marriage, and so forth. And what you feel about





S: O.k. first thing I'd like to touch upon is uh the political situation.

And uh-.-.if anywhere there is a change it's certainly in this community.

And uh...before the he-political process was/those who have power/will

be the preachers, will be 46t...he people who have wealth, inherited

wealth, will be those that- n. hat have some property. 4f it's only

recently that those people who have an education, who are what you would

call the upstarts, came along, ad- any and now there's a battle-within

this community, I feel, for who shall control and who shall govern. Will it

be the traditionalists, the ones who-the preachers, w the people who

have the wealth and the backing, or will it be tha..the new educated

ones the ones with the ideas, who e-Y.. are more than able to do

the job, but who don't have the money, the backing, to finance such things.

Uh, that's what I find about the present political situation, and I don't

feel like I eoald.-! can do very much with it because were dealing with,

with people, and we're dealing with their life, and to change their mind9-

will be changing their entire life. And until this thing can be worked

out on an individual level until people think it out, and hopefully

i. if I don't change my mind, they'll change their mind. But with my

present train of thought it's just going to take a long time for people to

realize that... tee--h. the educated, .the one with the ideas will

succeed. They...they will receive the reins of power. And they will govern

rather than the traditionalists whro'lve who have always had the power

because they had the money. L* as for marriage u.... I always consider

myself a very immature naive person, and auL, I've always been slow to

mature, and I haven't thought about marriage very much. But coming from




S: .../ large family with older brothers and sisters who have married, I've

been able to witness a lot, and 4l,.I can see their quarrels, I can

understand their viewpoints/and the pressures that there are upon them.

And k,.I'm just sort of thankful that I didn't fall in love at a very

young age, because I wouldn't just know what to do with it, because I

hadn't matured enough/or had enough ideas to sit down and resolve it.

JAy I see a lot of these young people, my age, who've been married two

years, who got married as soon as they got out of high school, and they

were happy when they got married. They were in love, but they were in love

with love, they weren't in love with each other. And now they're a littb

bit unhappy. They ... e find that they don't need...they do-' need to

love anymore, they need each other now. And they really don't have each

other. And I just see a lot of young people that areAt happy, just

because they hadn't matured enough when they got married. And uh, I'm

sort of thankful that..-rwat I too, well I never had the problem of want-

ing to get married, but I'm sort of thankful 6hat>that I've waited, and

was...and had time to sit down and think out a lot of things before I got

married, and find out that? my marriage partner isn't as compatible as

-Ld ..a1 I thought she would be.

I: How do you feel about the church here among the Indian people, and the

training, and the ministers and so forth?

S: O.k...uhs being this is an agricultural community, and being a community

of-uk, minority people. besides the school, the church is the single most

important institution in the community. 44 because of the conditions that

our people were reared under, w....we always had to work harde-&O ;here

wasn't thekbr .that much personal enjoyment. It was always a matter of




S: ...existence, it was always work, work, work. The church has been very

important to our people in that it gave...it was a reward, it was some-
thing to work for, it weevms d was a confirmpof emotions, it was a catylist

for action, i...it relieved people's souls to know that-tbe they are

goodthat they could always go to the church and get a good feeling when

they go away. .S, because our people 4h don't have that much education,

ab they sort of are.,-the apt to accept things that are told to them,

and Sh. -a ny they depend on other people to tell them things, and

they don't do that much personal investigation on their own. And so...in

my case, wvth...with the reading that I've done, and what I've learned,

and my own personal thoughts and doubts I I find it very hard ta...to mix

my ideas with iaaE ^sA.aaa .. ..... wi ' the ideas of the churches

today. h.-...Z get a lot of pressure from people because I don't at-

tend church. It's been almost wl, almost four years that I haven't

gone to church. Ji my father did what he thought was right, he gave me

a Christian upbringing, he taught me to go to church. JA .what was gc

good for him isn't any good for me anymore. He can sit and listen to the

preacher and accept what the preacher says; I can't. L.-.- have to make

that decision for me, and nobody can tell me that this is the way it's

going to be, and this is the way it's supposed to be. -I, I guess that's

one-.eehe*s one place where my education has been a d44u=* disadvantage

to me in my interaction with people. I feel that I "eaalt.. can't explain

my religious feelings to other people because religion to:them-isiso very,

very personal and so very, very important, that to say that I don't attend

church is somewhat hypocritical to them. They don't i-thay .....they

denAt believe that I love God just as much as they do, and they don't




S: ...believe that I can live a good and whole ome/and holy life just as well

as they can without going to the church. 06, I have my own personal doubts
as, about Christianity,-aed and the relation how iLt'rreit> tradition-

ally treated minority people. .Ih ar. there's just so many things

that the institution of religion has been used for, and when I think e,

that u... it was Christianity was forced upon the Indian people. Zt's

not... i44Le their native religion. It's a psychological thing where

it41..-4 whs it's useful for the person to believe that...W a no matter

what he is on this earth, he can die/and live 4v, an eternal life of

goodness. W I don't think that I need that psychological comfort. I

think that, .1ane I want to believe in something that's ...t

permanent now. And there's something, that where --ea...my thoughts7and

my actions will be accepted in this present day.

I: Lsb,..,hat about your brother? Don't you have a brother that's working in

Washington or studying would you tell us something about his work?

S: O.k...a ,jLmy brother graduated from college, I'd say about five or six

years ago. And wvh he accepted a job at sbl, one of the first plants to

come into this area as assistant personnel manager. kMpd-itl b

I: What is his name please?

S: His name is W.J. Strickland, my oldest brother. _he had been fatty

inzlve. .d-.ri arsbeerr very involved in community activities. ME, he's

been active in organizations/he's been members of county clubs, and

things like that. So that he's one of those Indians that have become

involved/and know a little bit of how it..r ow it feels to operate on

the Indian side and the non-Indian side. He ."las had a lot of opportun-
a0S )R4foLt '&rAy
ities 14 the inidee ef-thh things.




I: He Ah, received this through being a member of the JaJfee organization

didn't he. the first Jay gee organization to be set up among the u4

Indians in Robeson County?

S: Yes 3yes.

I: Would you tell us a little bit about his involvement with the Ja fees?

S: O.k.,,-,n, in the present day, the Jay ee Club as I see it, is set up

fus.....for the respected men of the community, for the business men, S,

for the non-farmer so to speak.,ub.who who needs something Jwho has

time to devote to his community. -lp it's one of those things where it

makes you...it's a middle class club. It sort of gives you a feeling of

importance. And 1wa in the present I think of the Jay tees as being,

as a little bit bourgeois so to speak. But it's one of the very first

civic-minded organizations to come into this community. And bh.basically

its philosophy is for community involvement. And for that reason it has

been good. And because it is th...one of the experiences along that line,

there's a lot of things that has to be ironed out in that it's not a

prestige club/and that it's not for the members only& i-._it is for

the community. Buit a4, my brother was a member p this club: he was the

president, and then he was a regional officer. And so he was..h--w

fairly involved, l- hs aLJCJ h...oll he has attended state

conventions and national conventions.

I: He received somewhat a high honor didn't he?

S: Yes he did. He's received various awards for sm. his leadership, for his

involvement, and for his efforts.

I: What is his present job today?




S: Today he is working with the Office of Economic Opportunity in

Washington D.C., as an Indian Intern. This is a program of the Federal

Government designed for minority members to learn a little bit about

running a business running a corporation find out where funds are

available, ah, what knowledge is needed in this particular area, and

things like this.

I: tVi what does he plan to do when he finishes his internship?

S: Well, I think his internship is going to be up in about six months. aM-

hr. I haven't had a chance to sit down and talk with him about what he's

going to do afterwards. But s., I think the philosophy of the program is

that with this training. with what he knows aboutof wazt c 4e knuw

abeet being a minority person/and coming from a community like this,

and then receiving the training on a national and regional scale, that

he will come back and benefit local businesses. Uirk-traA m..that is what

I think will be the legitimate outcomes wi4r-=6.*.

I: When you say local businesses, do you mean Indian businesses, or white

businesses, or just...?

S: Well, I think it was set up mainly for Indian businesses, because it is

a minority program. I think it will be for Indian business.

I: In what way do you think he could help the Indian business?

S: Well, he knows more about whut..what opportunities the Federal Government

extends. He knows what firms to contact. He knows beLa. eL anos- a little

bit about efficiency in management and administration. And ...well, these

are the things in the present day that are eewvweve-generally lacking in

Indian Businesses about expansion, about..abesh capital, things like

that ...rh-h he's getting training in.




I: B you say you'll be leaving for school. hat day do you plan to return

to Massachusettes to school?

S: Wosm tomorrow, the 31st I'll be leaving, and h...school starts next

week. 4me..I'm going to be visiting a friend until school starts.

I: And what subjects wh do you have in mind that you plan to pursue this


S: O.k.-..l n regard to my wanting to go to law school, .'e- I've

already taken the exam, you knowpeready rt of..my record is more or

less set at this point, ande.. -he courses I've chosen now asr...are to

cap it off. Ands4-- J'm interested in philosophy and political science,

as well as sociology. In this semester, I'll be taking uh.a logic course,

and then another philosophy course, social problems, ah. and then for

political science courseI 'm taking ih,.public policy.

I: And where is your next stationtor where do you hope to attend .-do you

have any idea ?

S: Well, until I l,-,tfind out with my record/and with my background as to

where I'll be accepted, I'm shooting for the top. And then as my frustrations

grow I' l...I'll start aiming a little lower. But uh at the present, i.a

I'm looking towards Stanford. Stanford has an Indian program in laws and

also at Yale. And uh, Yale I understand i.is coming around to admitting

minority students. And at the present, I'm favorable of Yale more so than

Stanford, because Stanford has a four-year program, and normally the

program is three years. And Yale is..-s a policy school. ;c. -u--.it's

not too traditional, it goes out and studies social issues, and find out

what should be done. And then these changes are instituted through the

legal system. And that's the sort of thing that I like.




I: Uh, don't you think you'll have uh, pretty stiff competition at Yale?

S: Very. 4If like I said, anh I don't know how my credentials are going

to stack up against other peoples credentials, but I feel i+&4-.my

present situation.Lthat I've done just as well as I can do. And sh, if

it's not good enough I won't feel too badly if my first wish doesn't

come true. 4, my love for law school I think will carry me over, and

then I'll just -.Ti.f apply to other places.

I: When you say you've done as well as you could do, wai hbn hor how

well is that?

S: Wf well....

I: What is your average?

S: On a four point scale right now my...ay cumulative average is 3.53.



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