Legal victory starts process of change
This excerpt offers a brief look at some of the logistics of the aftermath of the circuit court's rejection of double voting. After a small setback, voters elected a Native American to head the county school board and Republican Jim Holshouser became governor, having earned Native American support with his pledge to save Old Main.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Barry Nakell, October 1, 2003. Interview U-0012. 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
MM: Okay. Okay. Well, you talked a little bit about the impact of breaking double voting for Lumbees. Tell us, once the court case was won, what were the kind of sequence of events that took place to put the whole thing into effect, enforce it?
BN: All right. I think as soon as we won the case or maybe shortly before, the county school board gave the superintendent a new contract for four years, which was the maximum they could give him. So they were trying to protect their power through the superintendent. We, once we won, we tried to get that contract set aside. We went for emergency relief before one of the judges in the Fourth Circuit from North Carolina who was Judge J. Braxton Craven, a judge for whom I have always had immense respect. But he turned us down. He said he thought we were not going to suffer irreparable harm, that we could wait out the four years with the superintendent and then have the new board elect a superintendent. So I was kind of disappointed by that. But then the new board was elected. It was primarily an Indian board. It did elect, appoint Purnell Swett to be the first superintendent of the new county board of education. So that was a major accomplishment.
MM: Were you involved in sort of recruiting votes for that new board or—
BN: I didn’t have anything to do, I left that with the local people. No, I didn’t have anything to do with that. I do recall, we also did, there was a fellow named Oxendine who had been appointed to the state board of education. I must say, generally speaking, that Jim Holshouser was elected governor. Jim Holshouser had come through Robeson County and promised to save Old Main and had gotten the ear of people in the county and a number of Indians changed their registration from Democratic to Republican because they liked Jim Holshouser and his promises.