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Oral History Interview with Barry Nakell, October 1, 2003. Interview U-0012. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    This interview offers a look at efforts by the economically and politically disenfranchised Lumbee Native Americans to assert themselves in Robeson County and, to some extent, white North Carolinians' efforts to sabotage those efforts. Barry Nakell, a professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, remembers traveling to Robeson County in the mid-1970s to help the Lumbees—and a splinter group, the Tuscarora—save a historic building and strike down so-called double voting. Double voting allowed city residents in Robeson County to vote for both city and county school board, giving city elites unusual control over county schools, where most Native American children studied. Nakell succeeded in defeating the system before a United States Circuit Court. He believes that once Native Americans took more control over their education system, their most prominent citizens were freed to agitate for more rights and protections. Nakell's intervention sparked an interest in legal solutions to civil rights issues, and a steady stream of Lumbee Native Americans began earning degrees at the UNC School of Law so they could return home and advocate for other Native Americans.
    Excerpts
  • Tuscaroras fight to preserve Old Main
  • Double voting discriminates against Native Americans
  • Three races clash in Robeson County
  • Control over school board controls Native American community
  • Victory over double voting and tensions between Native Americans in Robeson County
  • Tuscaroras split from Lumbees
  • Influence of poverty on radicalism
  • Legal victory starts process of change
  • Political parties angle for Native American votes
  • Developing interest in civil rights
  • Lumbee leaders use legal services to help community
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Lumbee Indians--Civil rights
  • North Carolina--Race relations--20th century
  • Robeson County (N.C.)--Race relations
  • Civil rights--North Carolina
  • Lawyers--North Carolina
  • Civil rights movements--North Carolina--History--20th century
  • Civil rights movements--North Carolina--Robeson County
  • Indians of North America--North Carolina--Robeson County
  • Indians of North America--Civil rights--North Carolina--History--20th century
  • Robeson County (N.C.)--History--20th century
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.