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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Carnell Locklear, February 24, 2004. Interview U-0007. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Various facets of Native American advocacy

Locklear describes his efforts to push through some of his agenda, including saving the Old Main building (a historic Indian school), earning federal recognition for Lumbee Native Americans, and securing better educational facilities for Native American students. He and others marched and took over buildings to try to force concessions.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Carnell Locklear, February 24, 2004. Interview U-0007. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I was on the commission to save Old Main. We went out there and was sleeping and snoring. We marched, and really got the attention of the state. So Governor Holshouser was elected, Dennis Banks come down. During that time, Dennis Banks, Russell Means, Vernon Bellecourt, Clyde Bellecourt, and all the American Indian Movement started a movement out in the west, and they come all the way down through Texas, all the way down through every state they'd come in, they'd pick up so many people. And I was the last stop. I was the last stop, and at that time Holshouser was running.
MALINDA MAYNOR:
Now, is this the Trail of Broken Treaties?
CARNELL LOCKLEAR:
That's right. It's being called the Trail of Tears. You're aware about the Trail of Tears, Andrew Jackson, what he done.
MALINDA MAYNOR:
Yeah.
CARNELL LOCKLEAR:
And I studied up on him and hated his guts for what he had done. It was terrible. The longest war, not the Vietnam War or the Korean War or the War of 18[12], it was the war with the American Indian. That's the longest war. It's still running today. But anyhow, at that time, Dennis Banks and all them guys that I mentioned, come down here, and we went to Washington DC. And I told him I have to come a long way around. But anyway, me and Russell and all of us, they come down here, and we camped out up there at the Indian Culture Center. We took the land for four days and four nights, and-
WILLIE LOWERY:
What was it called back then? Was it called the Culture Center?
CARNELL LOCKLEAR:
Yeah. The Recreation Center. So we went in there and barricaded it, we took it over, and wouldn't let nobody come in or go out. The Sheriff's Department, wouldn't let the Sheriff's Department go in, we locked the doors. This wooden door. So [Malcolm] McLeod was the Sheriff at that time. He says, "Carnell, please, get these people out of here. We don't want to hurt nobody, we don't want to get this National Guard [unclear] ." [unclear] he was [unclear] and everywhere. At that time it was really, really hot.
MALINDA MAYNOR:
I imagine it upset some of the Lumbees.
CARNELL LOCKLEAR:
It upset some of the highest Lumbees.
MALINDA MAYNOR:
How did they react to that camping out at the recreation center?
CARNELL LOCKLEAR:
They didn't particular care, but what we had to do, we had the momentum going and it was very, very hard to stop. Because we had so many issues we wanted to work on. I wanted to work on federal recognition, I wanted to work on the treatment of the Indians by the Department of Social Services, Save Old Main, double voting, and the way the highway patrol at that time was treating the Indian people. We worked on all of those issues.
MALINDA MAYNOR:
So even if the Lumbee leadership didn't like it, there wasn't a lot they would have done about it.
CARNELL LOCKLEAR:
Well, the school board, we took over the school board at that time, too.
MALINDA MAYNOR:
Tell us a little bit about that. What was behind that particular-.
CARNELL LOCKLEAR:
The Indian schools was not up to par to the other, to the white schools. I'd go in the Indian schools, and sometime I just walked through hall and look at the wall and see that the bathrooms, and I'd go to a white school and do the same thing, and the difference would be tremendous with the upkeep on the building. So we went down there and we took over the board of education. Me and Dennis Banks and all we fellows done that and that brought attention up. So the board-
WILLIE LOWERY:
What do you mean, took it over, you just-
CARNELL LOCKLEAR:
Went down there and sat on the grounds, stayed on the grounds for three or four days. Got the news media involved, and that made a difference. So we got that pretty well [unclear] because they didn't want no bad publicity. I said, if you will correct all these deficiencies, I'll back off. So they began to work on it. They didn't like it at the time.