The 1950s were a time of heightened racial animus in North Carolina. A movement against segregation and inequality sprung up across the state, with a reactionary element taking offense to what they saw as a destruction of traditions.
The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision ordering an end to school segregation played no small part in reigniting the seemingly dying embers of the Ku Klux Klan, and it once again began to terrorize minority communities throughout the state.
During this era, a Klan organizer by the name of James W. "Catfish" Cole had become incensed by the federal recognition of Robeson County's substantial Lumbee population as a tribe, as well as reports that interracial dating was occurring in the area. His men engaged in a harassment campaign, burning crosses on the property of local American Indians (whom he referred to as "half-breeds") in an effort to scare them out of the region. They would also organize caravans of Klansmen that snaked through American Indian communities.
In early January 1958, Cole went a step further: he called for the organization of a rally "in the heart of that mongrelized Indian territory." The local American Indian population was not amused, to say the least. They were further atomized when Klansmen drove through the streets of Robeson County to announce the rally, and propagandize against the Lumbee.
Tribe member and decorated World War II veteran Simeon Oxendine and his fellow Lumbee began to formulate plans on how to fight back against the Klan.