Title: Oral History Interview with Barry Nakell, October 1, 2003. Interview U-0012.
Interviewer: Maynor, Malinda
Interviewee: Nakell, Barry
Subjects: Lumbee Indians--Civil rights North Carolina--Race relations--20th century Robeson County (N.C.)--Race relations Civil rights--North Carolina Lawyers--North Carolina Civil rights movements--North Carolina--History--20th century Civil rights movements--North Carolina--Robeson County Indians of North America--North Carolina--Robeson County Indians of North America--Civil rights--North Carolina--History--20th century Robeson County (N.C.)--History--20th century
Abstract: This interview offers a look at efforts by the economically and politically disenfranchised Lumbee Native Americans to assert themselves in Robeson County and, to some extent, white North Carolinians' efforts to sabotage those efforts. Barry Nakell, a professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, remembers traveling to Robeson County in the mid-1970s to help the Lumbees—and a splinter group, the Tuscarora—save a historic building and strike down so-called double voting. Double voting allowed city residents in Robeson County to vote for both city and county school board, giving city elites unusual control over county schools, where most Native American children studied. Nakell succeeded in defeating the system before a United States Circuit Court. He believes that once Native Americans took more control over their education system, their most prominent citizens were freed to agitate for more rights and protections. Nakell's intervention sparked an interest in legal solutions to civil rights issues, and a steady stream of Lumbee Native Americans began earning degrees at the UNC School of Law so they could return home and advocate for other Native Americans.