Title: Interview with Mr. James Dofphus Brewington (January 18, 1970)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007208/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Mr. James Dofphus Brewington (January 18, 1970)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: January 18, 1970
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: UF00007208
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 243

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LUM 243A /,L4

INTERVIEWEE: James D. Brewington, Patsy and Pam Brewington, Jo Ann Wynn,

DATE: January 18, 1970

D: Continuation... I have just left Mr. and Mrs. Troy Bowers' home, and

I am now in the home of Mr. and Mrs. James D. Brewington, Dobs

Brewington, he is sometimes known as. And I'm going to question him

concerning the schools, the kind of schools where, segregated Indian

schools and now the integrated Indian schools and so forth. Mr.

Brewington, suppose you begin with the Indian schools that were here

in recent years, say ten years ago, that you felt,were inferior, and

how you felt that there was a need for integration of schools in

order to get a quality education, and along that line, suppose you

tell how the schools are working today. Just take over the mike and

go ahead and talk all you care to.

B: Well, Mr. Dial, commonly known thing that the schools here in Sampson

County, as Indian schools were inferior to that of the white and

"Negro schools, and some, tea .years ago, when-we encountered to up-

grade these schools, we run into quite a few problems with our county

board of education, in requesting these improvements. Maybe one of

their statements, if you'll refer to the press, you'll find that they

stated it would take close to a million dollars to bring the conditions

of these schools up, and maybe they made a statement that we would

have the best schools in the county, and the reply was made by some

that that would be all right too, because we-had never had the best:

schools before, "and this would give us'the opportunity of having

the best schools once in a lifetime. So from that instant, when they

denied us the rights to upgrade our schools, we then took action
a 3

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towards transferring our children to the white schools of our county,

which we were bussing our children in from many miles, some as much

as sixty or seventy miles a day, or hftlr f iz-u UJ C/2 LOI7';t *

And as we put forth our efforts to transfer these children into white

schools, naturally we were denied by/county board of education, at

which I think this is an act that they had to do to hold a political

figure in the county. Nothing personal that they had toward us. But

then when we had exhausted all efforts, then it came down to the sad

point of taking out a Supreme Court case against them, which we did.

And we were able to settle.this case without taking court action, as

they came to agreeable terms with us, to take our children into the

schools, some of the little grades first, and then gradually, take

in the applicants for transfer into the schools in the full number.

This being achieved, later years... 1

D: How many Indian schools did you have at this'time, when the East

Carolina School was integrated?,Was this thelonly Indian school

in Sampson County?.

B: This was the only.Indian school in Sampson County.

D: Elementary or high school?

B: Elementary or high school, that is right. And also, this school

was supplying the needs of Harnett Couity atrthis time. But with

all these requests denied, and the court cas& settled, then our

children was taken into these other schools in the various parts

of the countiAe, which put Indian children into many schools. And

the children were accepted I think in d great way, we never had

the first moment of rioting or- disturbance on racial basis, however,

the fist times that any Indian or white child had a little feud,

the first thing somebody would think naturally, was a racial feud,


but this did not happen, we were able to go through this ordeal

very peaceful, and as for our teachers, they have been able to

since the complete integration of our schools now, maybe I forgot

to tell you earlier, but at a later date,our schoolswas completely

integrated, or as we call it, consolidated, because we always

figured that the American Indian was of the Caucasian race, anyway,

or accepted so by government, so for this reason, we often referred

to it as consolidation, but nevertheless, as this takes place here

in the county, the Indian teachers was able to all get jobs, and I

think that everything had -orked out very peaceably, and very

satisfactorily for them, as a matter of fact, some of our teachers

that was having to go out of the county for'jobs, have been able

to come back and get jobs here teaching in what was previous to this

time, white schools. And this just about sums up cool ordeal for

me. Our children are getting some of the best of education, I think,

I'm not saying that our children could;F get education in predominantly

Indian schools, but I think to mix with people of other races, and

other occupation5, and from other areas of our county, would be an

education within itself, to say nothing about what the child would

get from a teacher, maybe, that was restricted to a very small social

group. Uh, this being a hindrance in our case, but now the children

are able to associate, and be with people' fom all walks of. life,

which makes forta better way of living for them. I might add at this

point, that our:motive$.was not to put'our children in with the white

only, but to mix them with all the people of our nation and of our'

county, that we might make a better living condition for everybody,

and not necessarily that we desired to lose our identity as Indians,

but that we wanted to upgrade our living conditions and our social

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standards with the people around us. Some other questions now

that you'd like to ask me?

D: Yes, right along this line, you pointed out how you've made progress

by consolidating and integrating the schools of Sampson County, and

I take it that the schools, really your schools, the Indian schools

were too small in order to be very good schools, in order to have a

very good program, and so forth. Now I notice here, as you might

say, as a chief or leader among the Sampson County Indians, that

you had a big festivity here on September 5, 1969, National Indian

Day festivities, and this was given publicity all over, and I wonder

uh, just how you felt about this. Now, I suppose that you take over

the mike again, and explain this big day for me, and do you expect

to continue so-it, what was your success, and how did it come

around, and why do you feel that we ought to have it, and is there

any opposition to it, and so forth?

B: Yes, Mr. Dial, we did have quite an exciting event down here on the

fifth and sixth of September, as a lot of people don't know, the

fourth of September is National Indian Day, and the origin of this,

as was told to us in an Indian conference inWashington, about four

or five years ago, when we were attending a conference up there, the

Indians from all over the nation, and Vice-president Humphrey spoke

to us on this particular morning, and he said that President

Roosevelt told him on one occasion that' he was sitting in his office,

and he received a letter from'this young white girl, and she had

asked him in the'letter, says, "Mr. President, why is it that the

Indians have, I mean the white people have a day that they were

freed from England and the Negroes have a day that they were

freed from the white man under slavery,"and she went ahead to


mention the fact that Abraham Lincoln had a day, and George Washington.

And she says, "Mr. President, why hadn't the Indians got a day?" So

Vice-president Humphrey said that the former President Roosevelt told

him that he set down, right then, called his secretary to take a

letter and he told in the letter that she had written thatj1"I,the

President of the United States, do declare this day National Indian

Day" and this happened to be the fourth of September on which he

was speaking, and that is how National Indian Day has come about,

however, many of the Indians in North Carolina and in other areas

of the United States, have never recognized this day as such to the

extent that we have celebrated, so in 1969, we did venture to make

preparations for celebrations Here- in Sampson County, in which we

invited the Indians from various counties to come in and participate

and we had a very good participation for it being the first occasion.

We were hoping that next year, as efforts are being made now for the

festival for 1970, we're hoping next year to'have even a greater,

festival and much more entertainment and enjoyment and speeches from

some of our older Indian men and women, should we be able to get them

to come out and'make speeches of that kind.

D: Thank you, Mr. Brewington. Now we have your daughter here, one of the

girls is your daughter and two others, I would like to talk with you

some. Will you girls come over please?-I have three girls here, Patsy

Brewington, Pam!Brewington, and Jo AnnWynn. Patsy, where are you

attending school?

PY: Midway Elementary.

D: Midway Elementary, this is an integrated school, il black and


PY: Yes.


D: Uh, how do you like it over at Midway?

PY: It's a real good school and everything, and I enjoy going there.

D: Did you attend East Carolina before the school was integrated,did

you attend the all-Indian school at East Carolina?

PY: Yes, sir.

D: How would you compare the two schools?

PY: Well, Midway Elementary overcomes ECI very much in building

standards, and we have a lunchroom, and playground equipment, and

it's safer,lsuch things as that.

D: In other words, you feel that the purpose for consolidating and

integrating the school is so you could have perhaps a larger

school and have better facilities and so forth?

PY: Yes, sir, and also education of our students that are g-A/4-L h/,e.

D: Are you proud to be an Indian?

PY: Yes, sir.

D: And would you have any objections to attending an all-Indian school,

if it had the same facilities and so forth?

PY: Yes,...

D: It's a hard question, isn't it?

PY: Yes, sir, but I think I ned rather stay where I am now.

D: Uh,huh. In other words, you are saying that the thing that counts is

having a good school. That's most important uh, that you get ideas,

by, uh, are you saying that you get new ideas and so forth, by mixing

with other-people and so forth, even if you had the facilities?

PY: Yes, sir.

D: All right, thank you, Patsy. Now we have Pam Brewington. Are you girls

any relation?

PM: Ah, yes. We're cousins, I think.

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D: Do you attend the same school?

PM: I attend Midway High.

D: You attend Midway High. Now, suppose you take the mike and tell me

about how you feel about Midaay'High?

PM: Well, Midway is, I enjoy going to school and it's very good. Uh, I

"went to ECI for about five years and we felt it better to have a

larger or better school than what we were doing, because we weren't

given the education, that we thought we should have, and as far
K;cl s
as the school goes, uh, well, all the-tAtderts get along ihC .fros, rk-

idrJ'f'. !. f) community, and everybody just seems

D: Now we have Jo Ann Wynn, Jo Ann, where are you attending School?

J: Union High.

D: Union High. Now all of these schools, all three are in Sampson

County, aren't they?

J: Yes, sir.

D: And how far is Union High from Midway?'

J: Oh, it's about twenty-SE, about thirty some'miles?

D: About thirty some miles. Now, tell me'about'how you enjoy this?

J: I enjoy it thoroughly. The people there are very nice, and considerate

and there is not so much emphasis on race as'there is education and

get along with people.

D: I notice your name is Wynn. Where do the Wynf's originally .come from?

Wayne County, maybe? Goldsboro?

J: Yes, Wayne County mostly.

D: And what is your mother's maiden name?

J: Jacobs.

D: She's a Jacobs, uh, huh. And your mother comes from, originally from

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Sampson County, or Columbus, Bladen, or where?

J: Bladen, she's originally from BladenCoun#y.

D: Originally from Bladen County, I see. So you think the consolidated

and integrated schools are really giving more in the way of a good
education to the children, to all children of the community?

J: Yes, sir, I do.

D: And you couldn't say there's been any raaial trouble among any of

the groups, any more than what might happen in any school, maybe a

fistfight, or something, kids playing and having fun?

J: No, not where I've been involved, all the schools I've been to.

D: It's all been quiet.

J: Yes.

D: All been quiet at your school, too?

PM: Oh, yes sir,...

D: All quiet.Well, thank you girls, and what do you plan to do? Do you

plan to go to college or to a university sodeplaceyou girls?

J: I plan to go -4, either to Chapel Hill, North Carolina there,

or State, or some university.

D: And you're in what grade now?

J: I'm a sophomore r in high school.

D: And you?

PM: I'm a junior. I plan to be a A/,n. eC /Y9 ? f/

D: And / ?

PY: I'm in eighth grade, and I haven't got any definite plans yet.

D: You have no definite plans, but you have a little while to make up

your mird, so plenty of time. Well, thank you girls, and ir-ac nice

meeting you. Oh, by the way, what did you think of the National Indian

Day festivities? Suppose you comment on this. All of you hold over

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here. What do you say Miss Brewington? Pat?

PY: I enjoyed it thoroughly and I think we should have another one.

D: You looking forward for it. Why do you think it's good?

PY: It gives the older people as well as younger people a chance to meet

other people and it gives the Indians as a whole, a chance to be

shown up more, as other races are doing, apd,/ iu__ t aiUS'/.

D: You think the Indians have something they ought to preserve and keep,

do you?

PY: Yes, sir, it seemsll-ke it had been like kind of was, just forgotten
Luc7a5 re f' (
for a few years, but -it become O CC/^ .d ,-- .-

D: Okay, Patsy Brewington speaking, Pam? c 1 6 1')

PM: Well, my parents= cu bdqi r 4a' l-ut I enjoyed it.
D: You enjoyed it, uh, -aF why do you suppose your parents might

not feel too good about it? Had they just rather forget, of course,

this would be their prerogative to feel this way, but uh, you think

maybe they felt you just ought to forget Indian business and go on

about your bdsiness'and g- on about your hbuin o -?

PM:, Well, I don't know they didn't tell me.

D: They didn't' tell you what? All right, Miss' Wynn, how do you f eel

about this?
r an'S -fh- I had
J: Well, I wasV unable to attend the day. But, the gieaon-Jlai I e-a

in the paper, and the way other people feel about it, wjy-eh IndianA

and so forth, they thought it was a good idea, and tertiit should be

continued in the next years.

D: In other words, it seems to me that today maybe there is an advantage

to being an Indian rather than a.disadvantage, in spite of all the

oh, some of the problems and so forth,'but perhaps it's a good way

to get in the limelight once again, and preserve something, and perhaps

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even a hundred years from now, it will be even more important, uh, as

people boast today about Indian blood,a hundred years from today they

will boast more and more, about being Indian. In other words, there ie

a good possibility I feel that people' in the future may boast more

and more about being any minority group. Well, thank you girls, thank

you very much. Mr. Brewington, speaking of comparison of race

relations, say twenty years ago, er before the Brown Decision, 1954,

when you grew up as a child, by the way, how old are you?

B: I'm forty-two at this time.

D: Forty-two.Now, did you, as an Indian, did you ever experience discrim-

ination and so forth, in any way, as a small child, and would you say

things are better today and so forth? I know most people of a minority

group did have this experience one time or another.

B: Mr. Dial, certainly I would have to say that things are a lot better

now, than what they was when I was quite a boy. Uh, I might take you

back to some of the times whenlI was ten, twelve years old, and had

many experiences there as';a young boy.'Maybe part of this was not

because of my being an Indian, but some of it could have been dueto

the fact that we were just poor )se that, but we'd hear other children

talk about the various experiencesthe white children, how they'd go

to the beaches and lakes, and to the state fair and this kind of

thing, and this was some of the things'that we were deprived of, but

I think maybe the worst experience that I ever had as a child on a

racial basis was at the age of approxiiately'twelve years old, I

entered a drugstore za my hometown, being Clinton, North Carolina,

and went in with a younger, older cousin of mine, who must:have been

in his middle teens, and we went into the drugstore and ordered a
fountain drink the man gave me mie fir and as my cousin
fountain drink, d the man gave me mirie fir"t, and as my cousin

and others was buying stuff, I heard somebody say, "Don't do that

in here," and I was paying little or no attention, it being a hot

Saturday afternoon, I continued drinking my refreshment, and when I

held up the next time to take the next sip, somebody slapped it

out of my hand, and I found &ut at that point that he was talking

to me, et he didn't want me to drink anymore of that in there, see.,

And this is te. good example of the racial pressures that was on here

in this county, however, I 'm glad to say that all of our people did
not have that feeling, tZt this sort of made up our society, uh.

On one occasion when one of our young men and his wife had gone into

what we would count a two-bit hot dog stand, to get a sandwich and

this by the way, was after the Korean War. He was a Korean veteran.

And he went in and he bought his sandwich, and he and his wife

attempted to sit and eat their sandwich, and the proprietor told him,

says, "You can't eat that in here," he says, "Why,I think I can." He

says, "No,bhause the health man might come in, and he would close us

up." I don't know why it was so unsanitary for himto sit down, or

he could stand up and eat, BtL-ti t was all 'right. So finally, one

word came to another, and the law came in, and led this fine Indian

woman and her husband out, they took them up to the courthouse and

they decided they'd do that Indian a favor, they let him go. So they

did, they turned him loose and let him go hoiae. But this is ;he

kind of treatment that the Indians ha generally, have been getting

around the eastern part of North Carolina and I understand even in

the west, out in our western states, s6me oflthis X/rCi o' 7fci'

with the 2exicaf and other minority groups in our nation. And I'm glad

to say that thib situation is lifting in Sampson County, now, A person

if he's able to'afford a meal, can go in and'1sit down in peace and eat

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a meal of his choice. However, at this time, the barbershops are not

too liberal about cutting Indian hair, uh, I don't know just where the

pressure is at there, it must be coming from the customers because I'm

quite sure that the barbers would like to have more money. I don't
u) I
think they could be partial as to whose hair they cut, but they figure

they won't lose ten dollars to make a quarter, so this is some of

the conditions that still exists, and we hope to be able to oxeateR

matters out very soon, and in as quiet a manner as possible.

D: Do you have any Indian barbershops as such today?

B: Not in this area, the only Indian barbershop in this area are set

up in the homes, and without the proper sanitation. And this is the

thing that sort of happen as far as barberhhop treatment and beauty

shop treatment are concerned.

D: As a matter of fact, those who are cutting in the homes, are in

effect cutting without license, they are doing this in an illegal

way, but where, ordinarily where barbers would complain to the

state officials:;about this, they might let it just go right along,

since it's on a racial basis, if you follow what I'm saying here.

B: That is correct, they sort of hesitate to gripe, because if they

gripe too much, then they might have to open their doors, and I

think they are like others, that have7the same experience, in the

racial changeover, they ae just scared that they might lose a little

money. And for this reason they don't gripe, and they allow this

thing to go on year after year. We're hoping1in the very near future

that somebody will open up a barbershop herein this community and

I think it could have a real good business.

D: Yes, I'm sure. And of course, in Robeson Couity, those barbershops

are integrated, rbut basically, the Indians gd mostly to the Indian

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barbershop. You do have some Indians who are using the white barbershop,

so to speak, do you not?

B: That is right. Now even in Clinton, some of the barbers will cut Indian
hair, however it a. not a common thing. This is not something that

is generally practiced, but once we get out of the immediate area of

Sampson and adjoining counties, then the pressure lifts on this

situation, and now in Fayetteville, and other areas around this, that

pay no attention to this type of thing.

D: I have here an excerpt from the Jim Simmdns' Will, Item Eight: Subject

to Item One- Iw Seven above, I gave in bequest to the Board of

Education of Sampson County North Carolina, and their successors in

office, as trustees, the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars, should

there remain said amount in my personal estate after Item One Hr wilt

Item Seven have been satisfied in full. And in the event there should

remain in my personal estate, less than said sum, after Item One thru

Seven hava been satisfied in full, then the residue of my personal

estate to be held by said trustees in trust for the use and benefit of

boys and girls of the Indian race desiring to attend college. Said

trustees shall have full power to make such rules and regulations for

administering said trust, with the right to use my part :or all of

principal or interest of the same, either as:a.revolving loan fund

with low interest rates, or as an outright giant providing that

the selection of said boys and girls shall be made by a majority.

vote of members bf the school committee' of Eastern Carolina Indian '

Training School of Sampson County, North Carolina, and providQg that

no more than fifteen hundred dollars shall be loaned or granted to

any one boy or girl. It is further provided that no boy/girl shall

be eligible for consideration to receive saidE funds, unless he or


she shall have first graduated from high school." I'm closing out

now and heading back to Pembroke, and hlai a good day. Jrjl.

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