To the Editor,
Our script from the drama says “least we forget and in turn are forgotten, so now let a distant thunder break across our stage.” I write this as a tribute to our mentor, friend and playwright who passed in November, Dr. Randolph Umberger.
Dr. Umberger was introduced to the Lumbee people and the new formed (1968) Robeson Historical Drama Association by world renouned playwright, the late Paul Green. Like many, he did not know what a Lumbee was or who they were. He had research and books to rely on to write the script for the celebration of the nation’s 200th birthday in 1976. I will never forget the night the curtain went up in 1976 and some of the non Indians in the audience saw what a real Indian looked like for the first time. Basically, Umberger put the word “Lumbee” on the map along with the drama that in its second season was declared “The Best Outdoor Drama in America.” Without him, there would have been no Tribal Council or tribal government. Our Creator opened a dooor that night with the drum beats of the very first song.
“SATW!” was a proven stepping stone as many dedicated to drama have gone on to bigger and better things. Unfortunately, we lost a world-known actor who had been our director, Clinton Vaught, the same week Umberger died.
I would like to take this time to send my thanks and those 103 SATW FB friends to both of their families for sharing them with us. Because their jobs were not easy ones, I assure you.
The lights have dimmed on the stage for you Randolph. Your cast who loved you so much walk out in the darkness and take their places. We bow our heads in a moment of silence. Our tribal elders turn and raise their hands and thank the Creator for sending you our way. The bells from the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” begin to play and we sing one more time just for you. Thank you Ranny for coming to Robeson County, believing in us and making our tribe a tribe and not just a bunch of unknown Indians.
When you look down from Heaven on the Fourth of July weekend and you see us Lumbees doing fireworks, we the Lumbee people are sending our love to you. Thank you. You will not be forgotten.
Vinita “Cookie” Maynor Clark