During this week in 1958

During this week in 1958, 500 Lumbee tribal members crashed a Ku Klux Klan rally in North Carolina. The Lumbee were armed with weapons.  They chased the KKK from Lumbee country and stopped them from spreading their message of hate.


Lumbee Tribe captures KKK banner

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  1. Sorry I thought I was posting a link. Here’s some stuff from it, the site has good pictures of some survivors. Remember, Pembroke is an Indian town, I assume Maxton is too. Locklear and Oxendine are common Indian names and prominent names in the area. I took an AIM delegation down there in 1972 and got to meet a lot of them. CC

    The Night The Klan Met Its Match

    By Chick Jacobs and Venita Jenkins

    Staff writers

    MAXTON – The caravans rolled, like clockwork, every Saturday just after nightfall.

    Seven, sometimes eight cars. Sedans mostly, long and low, forming an unsettling parade that rolled up U.S. 74 from the south into Maxton. Inside, the dome lights burned, casting the faces of passengers in an eerie, harsh glare.

    The Ku Klux Klan wasn’t known for subtlety. But it was known in this part of North Carolina.

    “You saw those cars coming, and you knew who those men were,” said Lillie McKoy, a former mayor of Maxton who grew up watching the caravan from her uncle’s store just outside town.

    “They wanted you to see them. They wanted you to be afraid of them.”

    And a lot of people were afraid. Until the Klan picked a fight with people who fought back.

    A half-century ago, in a frosty cornfield about a mile south of Maxton, several hundred American Indians turned what was supposed to be a Klan show of strength into a melee that chased the organization of hooded hatred out of Eastern North Carolina.

    Few of the witnesses of that night at Hayes Pond are still around. Those who are share a similar story: The Klan picked the wrong bunch of folks to mess with.

    Yet, the tale of how the Klan met its match at the hands of a home-grown army remains a fascinating combination of changing times and long-standing customs – and a critical miscalculation by the grand dragon of the South Carolina Ku Klux Klan.

    Principal Players

    Malcolm McLeod

    Who he was: Sheriff of Robeson County from 1950 until 1978.

    How he got there: A Robeson County native, McLeod was born in 1913. He was a salesman for a grocery store in Lumberton before being elected sheriff in 1950.

    His role at Hayes Pond: McLeod had earlier urged Klan leaders not to hold their meeting in Maxton, warning of the danger. He kept his forces back as the rally began, not wishing to appear eager to defend the Klan. To minimize trouble, he helped Klansmen escape from the field and out of the area. His actions helped keep the sides apart, minimizing potential bloodshed.

    After that night: McLeod went on to serve seven consecutive four-year terms, retiring in 1978. He was president of the National Sheriffs Association and was a leader in the Robeson County Democratic Party. He died of a heart attack in June of 1987.

    James “Catfish” Cole

    Who he was: A traveling preacher, radio personality and Grand Dragon of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina in the late 1950s.

    How he got there: Born in Kinston in 1924, Cole served in Europe in World War II, then established a Bible school in Marion, S.C., in 1953. He broadcast “The Free Will Hour” gospel radio show for years. Cole became active in the Klan, rising to the rank of Grand Dragon.

    His role at Hayes Pond: Cole organized a series of Klan events in Robeson County in 1957, then called for the meeting at Hayes Mill Pond. It was his flatbed truck and loudspeakers that were attacked. He fled with the other Klansmen, leaving his wife’s car stuck in a ditch.

    After that night: The rout at Hayes Mills Pond, coupled with a setback at an earlier rally in Monroe, led to Cole’s arrest and conviction for inciting a riot. He was imprisoned in Virginia, then went back to Kinston for a new political action group and rejoined the Klan. He died in a car wreck in 1966.

    Simeon Oxendine

    Who he was: The man seen in Life magazine, wrapped in a KKK banner.

    How he got there: Born in Robeson County in 1919, Oxendine left home early to join the Army. He was a mechanic, then promoted to waist gunner on a B-17 bomber over Europe. He flew 30 missions, including the devastating Schweinfurt raid.

    His role at Hayes Pond: When informed of Cole’s plans to remind Indians of “their place in the racial order,” Oxendine reportedly replied, “He said that, did he? We’ll just wait and see.” As one of the “elder statesmen” at the rally, Oxendine was one of several veterans who led the Lumbees. He helped capture the blanket-sized KKK banner from a platform truck and marched it into Maxton. His photo was taken and shown in Life magazine.

    After that night: Oxendine took over operating the family store and became chief of the Pembroke Veterans of Foreign Wars, was a Pembroke Town Council member, and named a Robeson County Board of Education member. He was an active supporter of the Boy Scouts and his church. He died in December 1988 at age 69.

    Sanford Locklear

    Who he was: According to witnesses, he was the man who shot out the light at the rally.

    How he got there: Born in Robeson County in 1934, Locklear was one of the Lumbees stirred to action by the Klan’s threat to “teach those Indians a lesson.”

    His role at Hayes Pond: Locklear is credited as one of the organizers of the Lumbee response at Hayes Pond. He was photographed with a hunting rifle at the Klan rally just before he shot the only light out, sparking the Klan’s disorganized retreat.

    After that night: He became an active community leader and was vocal in Lumbee affairs. He served on numerous tribal and regional boards, and was a member of the Lumbee Tribal Council when he died in August 2006 at the age of 72.


    When the Ku Klux Klan was routed at Maxton, one noted folk singer had a special reason to smile.

    Malvina Reynolds, a social activist and prolific songwriter, had had a personal encounter with what she called the “bedsheet boys.” According to her daughter, Nancy Schimmel, Klan members broke into the Reynolds home in the early 1930s. They punched Reynolds and beat her husband and father. When she heard about the Klan’s setback, Reynolds gleefully wrote a song, “The Battle of Maxton Field,” which became a modest hit for folk singer Pete Seeger. In it, she pokes fun at the Klan’s notion that the Indians “aren’t real Americans” and they took off in fear when confronted.

    “It must have given her particular satisfaction to read about the Lumbee raid and write the song,” said Schimmel.


    Now brave the Klansmen rallied there

    In Maxton town that night,

    All armed with knives and pistol guns

    And honin’ for a fight.

    Oh, rally round, you Klansmen bold,

    But do not show your face.

    We’ll burn the fiery cross tonight

    And save the Nordic race.

    Oh the Klan,

    Oh the Klan,

    It calls on ev’ry red blood fighting man

    Who is free and white and bigot,

    Gets his courage from a spigot,

    And protects his racial purity the very best he can.

    The Indians, the Indians,

    They are our natural foe,

    They lure our girls with coke and pie

    And take them to the show,

    They wear blue jeans and leather coats,

    But anyone can see,

    They are not real Americans

    The like of you and me.

    The heroes left their stores and plows,

    Their pool-halls and their bars,

    And in their gallant hooded shirts

    They drove up in their cars,

    For in this grave emergency

    That mustered every soul,

    Who should appear to lead the fight

    But Wizard Jimmy Kole!

    Now as the cars were drawing in

    An ominous sound was heard.

    Was that an Indian battle cry

    Or just a gooney bird?

    Is that a gooney bird I see

    Or grandpa’s fighting cock,

    Or is it a Lumbee war bonnet

    That comes from Chimney Rock?

    The headlights shone, the Klansmen stood

    In circle brave and fine,

    When suddenly a whoop was heard

    That curdled every spine,

    An Indian youth with steely eyes,

    Sauntered in alone,

    He calmly drew his shootin’ iron

    And conked the microphone.

    Another shot, the lights went out,

    There was a moment’s hush,

    Then a hundred thousand Lumbee boys

    Came screaming from the brush.

    Well, maybe not a million quite,

    But surely more than four,

    And the Klansmen shook from head to foot

    And headed for the door.

    The Lumbee Indians whooped and howled

    In the ancient Lumbee way,

    And the Klansmen melted off the ground

    Like snow on a sunny day.

    Our histories will long record

    That perilous advance,

    When many a Klansman left the field

    With buckshot in his pants.

    Malvina Reynolds  Pete Seeger

    The coppers listened from afar,

    They did not lift a gun.

    They heard the noise, they said, “The boys

    Are having a little fun.”

    But when they saw the nightshirt lads

    Trooping down the road,

    They knew that something went amiss,

    The wrong switch had been throwed.

    When the coppers reached the battlefield,

    They saw no single soul;

    In Pembroke town, the Indians

    Were hanging Jimmy Kole.

    Not James himself, for he had fled

    With his shirt-tail waving free,

    But all the joyful Lumbee boys,

    They hanged his effigy.

    Final Chorus:

    Oh the Klan,

    Oh the Klan,

    They’ve hung their little nightshirts in the can,1

    If you want to see them run,

    Shoot a pistol toward the sun,

    And give an Indian warwhoop like a joyful Lumbee man.

    VideoLumbee Recognition Alex Baker shows the medal that will be given to Lumbees who stood up to the Ku Klux Klan in 1958.

    By Venita Jenkins

    Staff writer

    PEMBROKE – They were educators, farmers, construction workers. Students, soldiers and housewives.

    Ordinary men and women who, on a cold night in January 1958, decided to face the Ku Klux Klan in a pasture on the outskirts of Maxton.

    Now, 50 years later, these ordinary people are being honored for standing up to bigotry and hatred.

    The Lumbee tribe and the Indian Honor Association will recognize about a dozen people today during a ceremony at the Indian Education Resource Center near UNC-Pembroke.

    The event is on Friday, January 18 at 6:30 p.m. The tribe actually started paying tribute to those who stood up to the Klan in July 2004. The tribe honored 146 Lumbee men and women during its annual homecoming celebration. Each received a medallion engraved with “Lumbee Warrior” and “1958” surrounding the tribe’s logo. The awards were given by the Indian Honor Association, an independent organization that recognizes Lumbee elders who have achieved milestones.

    A majority of those who were honored in 2004 have since died. Their names will be read during tonight’s ceremony.

    “We want to take the time to honor these heroes who fought against the injustice and bigotry of the KKK,” said Tribal Chairman Jimmy Goins. “They stood not just for the Lumbees, but for all minorities.” At least seven others who are not tribal members will be recognized posthumously, including former Robeson County Sheriff Malcolm McLeod, former Maxton Police Chief Bob Fisher and Fayetteville Observer writer Pat Reese and photographer Bill Shaw.

    Tribal officials continue to track down the names of Lumbees who participated in that night 50 years ago, said Alex Baker, the public relations manager for the tribe.

    Names submitted to the Indian Honor Association are researched. The person must provide witnesses to prove that he or she was at the Klan rally.

    The verification can take years, Baker said. Reports at the time said hundreds of Lumbees turned out that night to run off the Klan.

    “We know that there are more than those we have identified,” Baker said. “We want to document them for posterity sake.”

    It is important for the tribe to remember the service of its forefathers, he said.

    “We should never forget their contributions that impact us today,” he said. “It is because of them, people like me and others don’t have to feel the hatred of the KKK.”

    4 Who Were There

    James Jones

    Curiosity was one of the reasons James Jones found himself at Hayes Pond on a bitter cold night in January 1958.

    Jones, who was 26 at the time, disapproved of the Klan coming to Robeson County. He and a few friends drove to Maxton to see what would unfold.

    Jones, now a retired educator, recalls dozens of Lumbees surrounding the area where the Klansmen had gathered in a field. The Klansmen didn’t have an opportunity to spread their words of hate. Someone fired a shot that began what sounded like a gunfight, Jones said.

    When the shooting was over, the Klan was gone and the Lumbees celebrated.

    “It could have been a lot worse,” Jones said. “No one was hurt. It turned out to be a beautiful situation, and the Klan moved on.”

    Those who attended the rally had no idea their actions would make national news. The story of the Lumbees’ stand against the Klan was featured in Life and Look magazines and in newspapers throughout the country.

    “We felt that it was just a local issue,” Jones said. “The Klan was trying to put a damper on the Lumbees. They were not going to come here and run the Lumbees away from their home.”

    Jones was brought up hearing about the Klan’s hatred and stories about their acts of terror in the South. He never thought it would happen in Robeson County.

    “We didn’t know what might be the result,” he said. “But we had the greatest outcome. We felt like the mission was accomplished.”

    The thing Jones is most proud of that night is the huge turnout of Lumbees. “We stood together as a tribe,” he said. “I want to think that the Klan was shocked about the mass turnout.”

    Pauline Locklear

    Pauline Locklear received word Jan. 17, 1958, that hundreds of Lumbees were planning to attend a Klan rally and cross burning in Maxton the following night.

    She knew there might be trouble. There wasn’t a single shotgun shell or gun on store shelves in Robeson County.

    Her parents didn’t want her to go, but Locklear was determined to take a stand with other Lumbees.

    Locklear was 23 at the time and a teacher.

    “I guess I was a rebel at the time,” she said with a laugh. “Whenever you find a group of Indians, I would be there.”

    Locklear was among 50 Lumbee women who gathered along the field near Hayes Pond.

    “We knew what they stood for, and we knew the history of the Klan,” she said. “When I was growing up in the ’40s, there used to be a sign in Clinton that said ‘Welcome to Klan Country.’”

    The Indians weren’t going to stand for the Klan coming into their community, she said.

    “We were already used to racism,” said Locklear, now 73. “Some of the towns in Robeson County, you couldn’t go to the store and get a Coca-Cola.”

    Locklear said Jan. 18, 1958, was the one time the Indians pulled together.

    “It was unreal,” she said. “It was something that you always remember. I am still puzzled that no one got killed.”

    Later that night, Locklear joined others in town to celebrate. She remembers seeing Simeon Oxendine wrapped in the Klan’s flag walking up and down Main Street.

    “It was something to see,” she said.

    Locklear doesn’t regret going to the rally.

    “If it happened again, I would go again,” she said.

    Leon Jacobs

    Leon Jacobs was in his sister’s car when he heard a shot fired near Hayes Pond.

    Jacobs, his sister and brother-in-law debated whether to leave or stay and see what happened next.

    They decided to stay, and what they saw made Lumbee history.

    Jacobs was a 17-year-old senior at Pembroke High School at the time. He described what he saw as a riot: Hundreds of Lumbees surrounding a group of Klansmen in a field. Some, he said, were firing their weapons in the air.

    “We saw all those white robes dissipating,” Jacobs said. “Some were going through the woods. Some were going to their cars.”

    A policeman stopped Jacobs and his family as lawmen were trying to get the Klansmen out. “Seeing those Klansmen go out told me that the tribe was taking action as a unit,” he said. “The tribe’s action was not only going to benefit the tribe but the rest of the minorities of the area.”

    As the Klan scattered, Jacobs said he thought about the inequality Lumbees had faced. He thought about going to Red Springs with his mother and seeing two white children coming out of a store with ice cream. When he wanted one, the woman behind the counter refused to serve him.

    “That night was like a sense of destiny,” Jacobs said. “We were tired of it. We felt it was time that we have some equal consideration. We didn’t anticipate nor did we dream that it was going to end up at that level. I don’t think we knew at the time.”

    Jacobs said facing the Klan was a justified reaction from the tribe.

    “The Indians and blacks had been discriminated against in the county and parts of the state for centuries,” he said. “This was a good indication that we were not going to sit around anymore.”

    The sad part was that the Klan was led by an ordained minister, Jacobs said.

    “How could an ordained minister have that type of hatred in his heart and at the same time talk about saving people and going to heaven?” he said.

    The standoff opened the eyes of non-Indians in the area, Jacobs said. “The Indians in Robeson County were tired of back seats, and there was going to be some changes,” he said. “And it certainly did lead to that.”

    Ned Sampson

    Ned Sampson recalls standing in the pitch dark after someone shot out the only light near the podium where James “Catfish” Cole was to give his speech at Hayes Pond.

    Then there were flashes from photographers’ cameras and sparks from shotguns and handguns going off. Sampson saw people lying on the ground.

    “I didn’t know if they were dead or not,” he said. “When the flashes were going, I was thinking there were 40 to 50 people dead out there. But when it was over, people got up and started leaving.”

    Sampson, who was 29 at the time, was one of the first to arrive at the field near Hayes Pond. There was tension in the community after the burning of crosses earlier in the week.

    The Lumbees didn’t want to be pushed around by anyone, Sampson said, especially by the Klan.

    When Sampson arrived that night, he saw Klansmen wearing cowboy hats and white hoods. Some were carrying .45-caliber guns and shotguns, he said. A few minutes later, Sampson turned around and saw hundreds of Lumbees gathering behind him.

    “We had more guns than they had,” Sampson said. “They were outnumbered.”

    He heard someone yell, “Let’s go!” He and the men moved closer toward the Klan. He could hear people readying their guns.

    “When the light went out, people started running,” he said. “You couldn’t see a thing but the guns going off.”

    Like many others who were there, Sampson didn’t realize how significant the events of that night would be.

    He recalls Sheriff Malcolm McLeod’s arrival later in the night.

    He said, “Boys, it’s almost time for ‘Gunsmoke.’ Let’s disperse and go home.”

    Sampson remembers the celebration in Pembroke, with people blowing their horns and cheering. One person was yelling, “Victory! Victory! Victory!”

    “Although I didn’t do much, I just feel good about what happened,” Sampson said. “We didn’t back down. We stood up and took care of business.”

    Captured Banner – Symbol of Hope Over Hatred Charlie Warriax and Simeon Oxendine display the banner from the 1958 Klan rally near Maxton. Authorities later confiscated the banner.

    By Chick Jacobs

    Staff writer

    When the Klan scattered into the woods around Hayes Pond, members left just about everything behind: robes, leaflets, a sound system and reel-to-reel tape of “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

    They also left a large red-and-white banner bearing the letters “KKK.”

    Much of the material paraded through downtown ended up in an impromptu bonfire. The banner, however, survived – as a photo taken soon after the melee affirms.

    That photo, showing two Lumbees wrapped in the captured banner – became a symbol of hope for those still threatened by the Klan.

    The photo itself was a spur-of-the-moment decision by Simeon Oxendine and Charlie Warriax, the men who snared the Klan banner at the ill-fated rally. According to Jesse Oxendine, Simeon’s younger brother and now a retired chemist living in Charlotte, the photos capped a wild weekend for his brother and Warriax.

    “They drove down to Maxton from Charlotte for the rally, then came back here,” Jesse recalled. “They had to come back to Charlotte for a VFW convention.

    “They came back with that banner and were showing it off while they talked about the rally. Then they decided to take it over to the Charlotte Observer, thinking maybe they’d like to take a picture of it.

    “That’s why Simeon has on his VFW hat in the pictures. They had just come back from the convention.”

    A photographer at the Charlotte Observer snapped some shots of the men, including one of Simeon wearing it like a shawl, the letters draped down his back.

    “They took them real quick,” Jesse said. “The man wanted me to be in the picture as well, but I said since I wasn’t there, I didn’t want to share the glory.

    “I really did want to be there. But my wife was pregnant at the time and she said there was no way I’d be going.”

    The pictures later ran in Life magazine and made Oxendine and Warriax famous. The banner met a more mysterious fate.

    “The authorities came and took it,” Jesse said. “I don’t know why, and we never saw it again.”


    The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has an exhibit commemorating the night the Klan was run out of Robeson County. The items on display at Old Main include:

    Articles from various newspapers from across the state and country.

    The Life magazine article about that night.

    A painting by Tara Lowery called “The Night the Klan died in North Carolina.” The painting was done in 1988 on the 30th anniversary, and included several scenes from that night and days following the event.

    A letter from Maxton Police Chief Bob Fisher to FBI Agent Bob Stevenson in Fayetteville. The letter, dated Jan. 16, 1958, requested agents come to Maxton to observe the rally. “We do not approve of the Klan and would like to discourage its activity as much as possible,” Fisher wrote.

    A copy of a release from Gov. Luther Hodges. The release, dated Jan. 30, 1958, was designed to quell any retaliation.

    “I want my position to be clearly understood. The responsibility for the Maxton incident rests squarely on the irresponsible and misguided men who call themselves leaders of the KKK.”

    A copy of a poem by Glenn Cuthrell of Maxton. Part of it reads:

    “The Lumbee braves were on the scene To teach the Klan a lesson clear Mind your own business and keep clean. Stop your peddling prejudice and fear.”

    A flier advertising the rally. It reads:

    “NC Knights of the KKK will hold a Klan Rally and Cross Burning. Hear the Klan Kludd speak on ‘Why I believe in segregation.’”

    Recruiting literature, including a pamphlet called “Why you should become a Klanswoman.”

    A photo of the cross burning that took place in St. Pauls.

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