'Thirty Thousand Half-Breeds' And 'Negroes with Guns': The Violent Formulation of Race in 1950s North Carolina.

Record Number: 
COOK001
Citation: 

Cook, Andrew M. "'Thirty Thousand Half-Breeds' And 'Negroes with Guns': The Violent Formulation of Race in 1950s North Carolina."  Thesis (MA, History). U of New York College at Brockport, 2006. 80 pages.

Annotation: 

Cook makes astute and perceptive comparisons between the Lumbee routing of the Ku Klux Klan on January 18, 1958, and a similar incident in Monroe, North Carolina, on October 5, 1957. Both incidents were spearheaded on the Klan’s side by North Carolina leader James “Catfish” Cole. In the Monroe incident, resistance to the Klan came from the Monroe NAACP (led by Robert F. Williams) and the Monroe Rifle Club, an affiliated organization that was chartered by the National Rifle Association. These two organizations had many members who were veterans of World War II, as was the case with the Lumbee who routed the Klan.

The Monroe incident was provoked by the NAACP’s protests of Black children being banned from Monroe’s public swimming pool. Williams and fellow NAACP member Dr. Albert E. Perry took Black children to the swimming pool and, when they were denied entrance, staged “stand-ins” with them. Catfish Cole held large, well-attended Klan rallies at which he spoke against Blacks going to a “White” swimming pool and made threats against the NAACP members. After the rallies, Klan members formed a motorcade, accompanied by Monroe’s chief of police A. A. Mauney and several squad cars. The motorcade often went by Dr. Albert E. Perry’s residence, and Klan members fired shots into the house.

On October 5, 1957, when the Klan motorcade, led by Cole and police chief Mauney fired into Dr. Perry’s house, members of the Monroe Rifle Club fired back from behind breastworks they had constructed. They fired low and did not hit anyone in the motorcade. The Klan members ran off, and the Monroe City Council banned Klan motorcades the next day. The incident was reported only in the Monroe Journal and three Black publications.

Cook quotes Robert F. Williams about the difference in coverage between the Monroe incident and the Lumbee routing, which happened just three months later:

“The national press played up the Indian-Klan fight because they didn’t consider this a great threat--the Indians are a tiny minority and people could laugh at the incident as a sentimental joke--but no one wanted Negroes to get the impression that this was an accepted way to deal with the Klan. So the white press maintained a complete blackout about [our] fight” (Williams, Negroes with Guns, 1962, rpt. 1998, p. 21; quoted in Cook, p. 49).

Cook devotes one chapter to the Monroe incident and one to the Lumbee incident. These chapters are preceded by insightful background discussions of race relations in the South and in North Carolina in particular, the Klan in North Carolina, lynching, and Social Darwinism.

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