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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 >>

Pursuing legal remedies for discrimination

In this excerpt, Mangum describes the double voting controversy, which denied African and Native American people the right to make decisions about their educational leadership. Mangum describes how he and some Native American leaders took their case up the legal ladder until they reached the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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

In the meantime during those ‘60s, mid-60s, Dr. Martin Brooks, who had come also in ’58, began to talk about double voting and about inequities in the educational system. He continued to call attention to the inequities, and the disparities, and to the injustice of the multiple school administrative units and the way that they were set up to have sanctuary from the vote of the people of the county and from the other charter units, and yet the county was subject not only to the vote of the people of the county who were eighty percent Native American and African-American, the students, sixty percent were Native American, twenty percent of the students were African-American, and only twenty percent of the students were Caucasian, and yet every one of those five charter units, every one of those towns was able to vote for the county system as well as for their own systems. Their own systems were sanctuary, the county without sanctuary was always subject to this strong white population in those cities that outvoted them. So Dr. Brooks in his desire to see justice ran for the county board. He and the Reverend Harvey Lowry. They both lost, and it was because of this kind of double voting that denied the right of the people in the county to determine their own educational leadership. MM: Do you remember anything about the campaign and what kinds of issues they tried to exert? RLM: Well, what I remember was that there was in the election, my understanding was, and Dr. Brooks can clarify this, that the top vote-getter or top vote-getters would be put on the board of elections, would be put to the board of elections. Well, and of course, if you won the vote you would anyway. But anyway, there was some kind of understanding that there would be additional persons put on the, excuse me, the board of education, as an outcome of that election. Well, it didn’t happen, and the board of elections put persons, excuse me, the board of education had persons on that board that were not representative of the vote of the county. We’ll put it that way. They were representative of the full vote, and therefore won, but the people of the county, as I recall, had really elected Harvey Lowry and Dr. Brooks, but because of double voting their votes were canceled out, their winning, and the vote went to another person, an African-American and a Native American. So then somewhere along there, about in there, Sim Oxendine had also run, and maybe it was before then or right after then, and he was defeated. So Sim, and I, and Hughes Oxendine went to Governor Morgan’s office, excuse me, to Attorney General Morgan’s office. That was about 1970, along in there. We just talked to him earnestly about the injustice of double voting. At that time, I don’t know, Sim might have initiated at his defeat—probably Dr. Brooks’ defeat came in ‘68—and it’s probably ‘70 when Sim was defeated. I’m not sure. But anyway, there was perhaps a suit that may have been initiated then. I’m not certain. Perhaps not. It may be in the document that I’ve written. Anyway, the Attorney General got a reading and a response, and it was declared that double voting was legal and was just. That was the legal opinion of the state. Then we went to the federal district court in Raleigh, and that was the opinion of the federal court. So then, of course, an appeal was made and it was taken to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.