Title: Oral History Interview with Ruth Dial Woods, June 12, 1992. Interview L-0078.
Interviewer: Moore, Laura
Interviewee: Woods, Ruth Dial
Abstract: Ruth Dial Woods was born in Robeson County, North Carolina. She begins the interview by describing aspects of her childhood as a Lumbee Indian, focusing specifically on her education. Woods went to an Indian school in Robeson County until the late 1940s; she moved to eastern Tennessee when her mother was unable to complete her graduate degree in North Carolina because of discrimination against Native Americans in institutions of higher education. After her mother graduated, they returned to North Carolina, where Woods graduated from Pembroke High School. After one year at Catawba College, Woods transferred to Meredith College. She left Meredith in the mid-1950s to marry her first husband. The couple lived for several years in Detroit, Michigan, where they both worked for the Ford Motor Company. It was her time in Detroit, Woods explains, that opened her eyes to the segregation and discrimination against Native Americans in the South. When she returned to North Carolina at the end of the decade, Woods finished her bachelor's degree and became a teacher. During the 1960s, Woods became actively involved in the civil rights movement in North Carolina, which she describes as a "multiracial" effort. By the end of the 1960s, she shifted her attention to the women's liberation movement. Woods describes in detail some of her activities in both movements during the 1960s and 1970s, and speaks at length about her thoughts on Native American and other minority rights. In 1985, Woods was appointed to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, where she worked to promote equality for minority students. She explains her decision to seek this post, and describes how her activism evolved into her appointment to the Board.