African American man describes legal struggle to enforce integration
Here, Thompson recalls how white parents in North Lumberton, a majority white area, complained that their children were not included in the Lumberton city limits. At a town meeting, Thompson told the white parents that he and Julius Chambers had fought for North Lumberton's inclusion in the city limits. White parents and others did not know because they were not interested in the African American part of town, Thompson thinks.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Angus Boaz Thompson Sr., October 21, 2003. Interview U-0017. 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: They’re like, “Sure.”
AT: Yeah. Yeah. They could have done it all the time. Then they began to have problems. The whites began to have a problem. Right here Clyburne Pines, Barker Ten Mile, all of those schools. They were out of the city limits in no school district, so they started crying about how could they get their children in the city limits? And the superintendent told them, “Do like South Lumberton. Get your petition together to get them in.” I listened to that, and I said, “He wouldn’t tell us nothing, but he’s telling them now how to get in.”
MM: Now is that Mr. Carroll?
AT: Yeah, that was Carroll.
MM: You were telling me last time about a meeting that you were at Carroll Middle School, is this that same time period?
AT: Yeah, this is the same thing.
MM: Late 1970s?
AT: Yes. Now, I had a cousin. She was teaching over to Carroll Middle School. She came in one evening, and called me, “Angus,” she said, “they had a meeting over here at Clyburne Pines. These white folks had a meeting in the school. They’re wanting to get their children in the city school.” Lawyer Lee, he was school board, and he agreed. Lawyer Lee, really, I don’t even think he knew what was going on.
MM: Lloyd Lee?
AT: Lawyer. L-A-W-Y-E-R.
AT: He was the speaker, and he was telling all these people how hard the school board had worked to get South Lumberton in. I said, “He didn’t know no better.” She said, “But they’ll have another meeting, and this time for the high school.” She said, “I’ll let you know when they’re going to have it.”
So they did. They had another meeting. Me and my wife, Angus was just out of law school, 1977, he was with us, but he won’t say nothing now. At this meeting they were crying about what they could do to get their children in the city schools. It was announced, “Anybody that had anything to say,” and that auditorium filled up, “feel free.” All you had to do was go up to the podium and tell them. I didn’t even move until everybody finished. It wasn’t nothing but white folks, the ones that was complaining then. Lee had told them how hard they worked to get South Lumberton in and all that kind of stuff.
Now at that time my pastor happened—he was on the school board. He was sitting on the stage. All the school board was sitting on the stage. My pastor was on there. So, after they all finished I got up and went down to the podium, all the way down. Told them who I was, “Angus [Thompson.]” I said, “I want to set the record straight. I want to know how South Lumberton got into the school district.” And I told them what we had went through, that we had gotten Julius Chambers out of Charlotte, and he threatened to sue. I said, “After we showed him what we wanted in the school line and he drew it up,” I said, “our black city councilman was with us. He told us that he could get this thing agreed to and incorporated.” I said, “So, we let him do it. That’s how we got in here, not through them working for us. It was through a fight.” And you could hear a rat jump on ( ). And when we came out-- Lillian, what was the name of that woman’s organization?
Lillian [his wife]: I don’t remember.
AT: Boy, they come at me. I knew those white folks didn’t know what was going on. So I told them, I said, “Yeah, that’s how we got in here.” And I showed them how these children were growing up being misled.
Lillian: And paid a lawyer to come in.
AT: Yeah, we had to fight to get in there.
Lillian: We had to ( ).
AT: Yes, Lordy. That’s how we got in here. Anyway, the president, he came to me that night. She left here. They got on her so bad that she left this place. I don’t even know what happened to the organization because she was getting a write up in the paper and all that stuff. But even at that, later on when it came out in the paper, it came out through the news media that the black city councilman fought for us to get in the school district. He didn’t do nothing to keep the suit ( ), but draw it up.
But, I can understand those things. They didn’t know. That school board lawyer said, “Angus, I didn’t know all of that.” I said, “I know you didn’t, and you didn’t try to find out either.” That’s just what I told him. He didn’t know it, but he was with them. He was the lawyer. He was white. He could have found out, but there was nobody caring about us.