Remembering Adolph Dial: A man for all seasons

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Oxendine, Linda. "Remembering Adolph Dial: A man for all seasons." Robesonian (Lumberton, NC) September 2, 2013.


Adolph Dial was born in 1922 on a farm in rural Robeson County. After earning a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Pembroke State College (now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke) he joined the army at age 21. During his time in World War II, he participated in the invasion of Europe and was eventually awarded six battle stars.

After he returned to the states, he applied to graduate school at the University of North Carolina but was denied because he was a non-white. He was then accepted to Boston University and earned a masters of education in social studies in 1953. Dial later received advanced certification in 1958. He then had a long career as a faculty member in the History Department at Pembroke State College, starting in 1958, making a major contribution to the field of American Indian studies.

In 1971, Dial was awarded a grant by the Ford Foundation to research the Lumbee. He then served on the American Indian Policy Review Commission and, in 1972, Dial established the American Indian Studies Department at Pembroke State College. He created Adolph Dial Enterprises, which established two shopping centers, Village Center and Colony Plaza, both located in Pembroke.

Dial was also the first American Indian delegate to attend a nation political convention, as he was present for the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Years later, in 1991, he earned a seat at the North Carolina House of Representatives. He also helped start Lumbee Bank, which now has 14 branches in three counties.

Dial served in other aspects of the community as well. He was on the Federal Recognition Committee and the Lumbee Constitution Committee. Dial was also a lifelong member of Prospect United Methodist Church.

He received an honorary doctorate from Greensboro College in 1985 and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNC-P) in 1988. Dial passed away on December 24, 1995. In 1997, UNC-P dedicated the Dial Humanities Building in his honor.

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