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The Battle of Hayes Pond,
Maxton, North Carolina
January 18, 1958

Last updated: 3 months ago

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In 1956, the Lumbee Indians of Robeson County, North Carolina achieved official recognition, and this infuriated a local Ku Klux Klan leader, James Cole. Within a year, Cole, who also fancied himself a preacher, was denouncing the Lumbee Indians as half-breeds with African origins. Crosses were burned on Lumbee lawns in an effort to scare the Lumbee citizens into silence, but it didn’t work.

Cole planned a rally on a path of secluded farmland on the night of January 18, 1958. The local sheriff warned him to stay away for his own safety, but about 50 to 100 armed Klansmen arrived for the purpose of burning a cross. Before Cole could begin denouncing the Lumbee, 500 Lumbee Indians showed up with their own firearms and shot out the Klan’s spotlight, plunging the whole area into pitch darkness. They then began shouting and firing their weapons into the air. The Klansmen fled the scene, with four being wounded. Cole left his own wife behind and waded through a swamp to get away. He was subsequently prosecuted and served two years in prison for inciting a riot.

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