Monday, January 18, 2016

The Battle Of Hayes Pond...

As noted yesterday, Martin Luther King, Jr. had a clear eyed understanding of justice: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 

Wise words. We often choose to forget that we must step forward to protect the rights of others, too. As Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers said: "Everybody has to fight to be free." [... and fight to stay free.]

Which brings us to the remarkable story of the Battle of Hayes Pond which was "fought" on January 18, 1958 in Robeson County, North Carolina. If you live on the East Coast and have ever undertaken "The Great Road Trip" down I-95 to Florida, then you've probably passed through Robeson County and just didn't know it. Robeson County is the place the world famous South Carolina tourist trap "South of the Border"(better known locally as S.O.B.) is south of - got that?

Equal opportunity discriminator!
Anyway, the Battle of Hayes Pond [here's a link to the whole story!] was not only a great victory for civil rights, but was also the last great Native American victory since Custer's Last Stand! It all started out with a scheduled KKK rally in the town of Maxton designed to harass and intimidate local folks, especially members of the Lumbee Indian Tribe [link], who have been in Robeson County since forever.  Robeson County's demographics are about one-third Lumbee, one-third African-American, and one-third white; so most folks "try to get along" - but not the KKK.

The Grand Dragon, James "Catfish" Cole had scheduled a rally, speech, and a little cross burning out at Hayes Pond for Saturday night January 18th.  He'd been stirring up trouble in the County all week and the Lumbees decided enough was enough....

Going Native (American) at the Rally!!!
On the night of the 18th, the 50 or so KKK supporters found their rally interrupted by the charge of a 500-strong, whooping "war party" - they were surrounded! The boys from the KKK, after a little scuffle, wisely decided to concede the field, the pond, their crosses, loud speakers, flags, and a couple of their wives (!) - fleeing into the swamp and woods.

Playing "Capture the Flag"!
Nobody was seriously hurt and the sheriff, who intervened, ended up arresting only one person - a Klansman who had a few too many PBR's. "Catfish" was later convicted of inciting a riot and packed off to prison for a couple of years. 

But that was the last Klan meeting ever scheduled for Robeson County!

"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
- Thomas Paine

Might want to remember The Battle of Hayes Pond,
 next time someone tries to "kick you around some"...


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