Date of Award

4-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Abstract

In January of 1958, over a thousand Lumbee Indians of Robeson County, North Carolina dispersed a gathering of one hundred and fifty Ku Klux Klansmen under the leadership of James "Catfish" Cole. In the aftermath, national newspapers and magazines published feature articles applauding the Indian confrontation with the Klan. Only two weeks earlier, Robert F. Williams, president of the Monroe, North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had organized an armed confrontation with the Ku Klux Klan that received no national media coverage. The disparity of media attention given to the two events was due to the ideologies and motivations of two very different groups. The Lumbees resisted the imposition of a Klan doctrine that was foreign to the majority of Indian and White residents of Robeson County and to the actual racial infrastructure at the time. Williams, on the other hand, used violence to attack the racial fo undations of Southern society-the political, social and economic stratification of society along racial lines. In both cases, non-White groups used violence in an attempt to redefine what it meant to be Indian or Black. This study explores the ways that North Carolinians used violence to create and define race. Chapter One examines the ways in which race is constructed through violence and the memory of violence. Chapter Two provides background on the Ku Klux Klan and the way that it used violence to enforce racial restrictions. Chapter Three presents the case of Robert Williams and the NAACP's most militant local chapter. Chapter Four explores the evolution of the tripartite racial system of Robeson County and the ways that the Lumbees interacted with their White and Black neighbors. Throughout, this history focuses on the use of violence to create, enforce and redefine racial conventions. It also examines the distribution of stories, pictures and souvenirs as ~method of spreading the impact of racial violence.

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