On January 18, 1958, members of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan were all set to hold a rally in a field they had reportedly leased near Maxton. The rally had been announced for several weeks in advance, and everyone in Robeson County knew about it. Maxton Mayor Bob Fisher, who was at the time Chief of Police in Maxton, had sent several letters to other law enforcement agencies, including the State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation, asking for their help in preventing what he saw as inevitable violence. Mr. Fisher had clearly announced in his letters that he opposed the K.K.K. But the rally was apparently going to happen anyway.
Both the Indian and Black communities were full of excitement. Many women pleaded with their husbands, brothers, and fathers to stay at home and out of harm's way. But the Klan had gone too far. Recent cross-burnings in St. Pauls and other nearby communities had made it clear that the Klan meant business.
Reportedly several hundred Indian men (by some accounts 1,000 men), many of them armed, decided to put a stop to the Klan's activities in this area. It has also been reported that a group of Black men spoke with some of the Indian men on their way to the rally, offering their support if it was needed. Apparently it was not needed. The Indian men confronted the Klansmen, and after heated words were exchanged, shots were fired and the only light bulb knocked out, leaving the field in darkness. The Klansmen apparently disappeared quickly into the night, abandoning their fallen flag, cross, and other items for the safety of the woods. The Indian community, and no doubt the Black community, and the county's progressive Whites, celebrated. What could have been a massacre turned out to be a miracle: there were only a few minor injuries, and no one was killed.
This event quickly made national headlines. LIFE magazine carried two separate articles on the subject. Letters poured in to the area from all over the country, most of them in support of the Indians. The Klan did not really die that night, but it did apparently learn to stay out of Indian Country.
Most of the materials for this permanent display were generously donated by Mayor Bob Fisher.
These two men were there:
William Sampson: The Ku Klux Klan set up their rally in Maxton. They personally advertised that they were setting this rally up for the Indians. To show us just what, how much power they had or what they could really do and they said they were going to educate the Indians and uh...so the night that they got ready to set their rally, most of the Indians decided to go up there and stop this thing. My father and the other men, they got their guns, most of the veterans they got their guns, and they started for Maxton. When we got in Pembroke, the law began to talk to us, to tell us says "You can't do that." And we had our mule, our wagons, our shotguns, our rifles, pistols, we rode on through Pembroke and rode on into Maxton.
Curt Locklear: It was supposed to have happened on a Friday night but it didn't happen on a Friday night. It happened the next night and my wife was gonna make sure I didn't go, but I had a friend and we pulled a deal on her and I got to go anyway. When I entered the place...in just a few seconds or minutes or so after I entered the shots went off, and it was scary. It was like something in a movie of course. After that everyone cleared out and I came back home. I worried about that until the next day when I found out nobody got injured in the daily newspaper. That was my only fear...it was a mob, it was really a mob. It was something that you would hope would never happen again. It was nonsense, but uh, it was scary. Just like all those, I had my gun there. I shot up in the air a few times just to make a racket.
Updated: Wednesday, September 29, 2010
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