Progressive spirit in Prospect community
In this excerpt, Mangum remembers an optimistic mood in the Prospect community—people felt driven to act for progressive change and hopeful that their activism would make a difference. He does recall, however, that some community members were reluctant to take action.
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
MM: Um-hum. Talk about Prospect a little bit more generally, because as you know it’s an important area for Indian people as a whole, politically, socially, religiously. A lot of us sort of kinship-wise emerge from there, and a lot of us have that community as part of our family backgrounds or as part of our spiritual, religious backgrounds. So many people have worked or attended that school. The mood of Prospect seemed to—I don’t know if it was typical. I guess I’m asking, was the mood of Prospect in the 1970s typical or atypical, do you think, of the Indian community as a whole, and could you talk a little bit about what it was like to work there as someone who was working on behalf of Native people, but also had the kind of responsibilities you had to be fair, to make those decisions?
RLM: Prospect, I admired the church and the people in the church because many of the people had a strong sense of commitment to social justice, and they wanted to see change in the county, because they owned land, because they had relationships to each other and numbers are important. There was a lot of confidence in that community, a lot of optimism that we can make a difference. I enjoyed being there because I could see a lot of energy in that community for change and for improvement in the county, and I worked very closely with Adolph Dial, as you know, and with Harbert, and others in that church that were social justice and empowerment-oriented.
There were some, of course, in that church as in other churches and other communities that were more status quo-oriented. Don’t push too far. Don’t go too far. There were others that felt like those who were pushing for the total empowerment of people were going too slow, and there was reaction to those folks that were felt not to go fast enough in change. So there was a lot of energy in that community.
There’s some that were sort of status quo in their attitude. There were some that were, “let’s go for the long haul, and let’s alter and empower people, and change the systems.” And then there were others that, “let’s have it our way as quickly as possible.” “Let’s get it done, and others of you are too slow, and you’re not doing what you ought to be doing.” So in terms of the life of the community, it had all facets of energy.