An Interview by Kasey Oxendine with Cynthia Locklear provides a brief first hand account of a Lumbee student’s experience with desegregation. A summary of the interview is featured below.
K.J.O. : I’m doing my Research project for school and I wanted to ask you some questions about school desegregation.
C.L.: I will do the best I can
K.J.O. : How did you feel about the schools desegregating, once Indians could not go to all Indian schools any more?
C.L.: Now do you know how many years ago this has been?
K.J.O. : A long time. Your son told me that once you went to your new school, you said you felt like the only Indian there. Is this true?
C.L.: Yes (laughs). I don’t remember seeing but just a very few.
K.J.O. : So where did the other Indian students go?
C.L.: I think there was a school called Ashpole, but I think you had to be in a certain district and that where most of them went.
K.J.O. : So what school did you go to after desegregation?
C.L.: Fairmont High School
K.J.O. : Ok so were there mostly Whites students there?
C.L.: Yeah, at the time the school was all grades
K.J.O. : Now that you look back on it do you look back on it like it was a negative experience, do you feel like it would have been better if you could have stayed at an all Indian school?
C.L.: Well, I wish I could have stayed at all Indian school, but now I think that it was all for the best because it more less put us all together where were all separate, so now we were all together.
K.J.O. : How did your parents feel when you had to change schools?
C.L.: They did not like it.
K.J.O. : Did they do anything to try to stop it?
C.L.: I can’t remember, I don’t know.
K.J.O. : Do you think that it was important back then for Indian Children to go to all Indian schools?
C.L.: Back then? Um, yeah when I was a little girl I wish I could have stayed at my own school.
K.J.O. : Did you feel like desegregation was a good thing or a bad thing for Indian children at that time?
C.L.: Yea, I think it was a bad thing.
K.J.O. : Why do you think so?
C.L.: Well I don’t know, it put us with people we didn’t know put us, well I actually felt out of place. And I can’t remember anything bad happening to me, just I was scared to death a lot.
K.J.O. : Ok, did you feel like when you went to your new school people did not understand what it meant to be an Indian, or your life style because you were an Indian? Like, you know there are certain things that we as Indians do. Do you feel that people at your new school might would not have understood that about you?
C.L.: Ugh, yeah
K.J.O. : The last thing I want to ask you is, the research I’ve done appears to show that a lot of Indians didn’t like desegregation, they didn’t want to do it and weren’t for it. Do you feel that the black people felt the same way or that black people wanted the schools to be desegregated?
C.L.: No, I don’t feel like they wanted it, we didn’t want to go to white peoples school; I don’t feel like they wanted to go to white people’s school either.
K.J.O. : So Fairgrove is still a school. Do you know who got to stay at Fairgrove? I know that my Daddy graduated from Fairgrove, but he may be older than you.
C.L.: I graduated from Fairgrove. All I done was go 2 years at Fairmont. I went in in second grade, they held me back in Second grade and I completed the second grade and then I came back to Fairgrove. That was the only 2 years I ever went there.
K.J.O. : So how did you get to go back? Did your Mama enroll you there?
C.L.: I can’t remember. I don’t know if the district, they went back and looked at the districts again and we went back.
K.J.O. : Do you feel like you would have been held back from the beginning if you would have stayed at Fairgrove from the beginning and not gone to Fairmont? Do you think that had anything to do with it?
C.L.: Um, I want to say yeah, but then I don’t want to because then a lot of schools; how do you say, there academics are higher than the others and I don’t know if where I came from ours was lower than theirs or higher, I can’t remember.
K.J.O. : Right I see what you are saying. Alright, I think that’s about it. Thank you for talking to me. (Laughs).