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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert Lee Mangum, November 18, 2003. Interview U-0008. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Christianity motivates social action

In this excerpt, Mangum recalls the end of double voting in Robeson County and describes the influence of religious faith on activists, who felt that God was urging them to stand against an unfair system.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert Lee Mangum, November 18, 2003. Interview U-0008. 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

So, anyway, during those early 70s not only did these things happen, and then finally we went to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, as you know, we continued to press. We didn’t stop there until we got stricken the double voting so that no longer could persons in these charter city units vote for the county school system. That was sent down from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, remanded back to the legislature of North Carolina, and that issue was resolved. During all this time we also had in about ‘74, we had a referendum on merger. Herman Dial told me, he said, “If you’ll come to the commissioners, and you’ll make this appeal,” I think that’s the way it was, so we urged that they authorize a referendum. So a referendum was authorized, and we lost, 10,000 to 5,000. But it got before the people, the issue of our coming together as a county, as whites, and Blacks, and Indians and working together for the good of this county was far better than being separated in five or six different systems. Then, of course, back in the ‘60s, you know, there were also the Smilings, and the poor Smilings were in another little school system. There was actually four-way segregation in ‘58 when I came to Robeson County. So, I’ve just rambled, but wow, what a story of Godly people, many of them prayer meeting people, who understood at that time that the call of God was to stand up for what was right and fair, and to challenge the systems of denial. And to cry out, and to believe that they could have their rights as Americans and they could be whatever they wanted to be like any other American, and that they could break the systems that were denying them.