December 7, 2022

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Baltimore News: Paul Rucker, The Parlor, Murjoni Merriweather

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Baltimore News: Paul Rucker, The Parlor, Murjoni Merriweather

This Land Was Their Land: Baltimore’s Lumbee Indians Claim Their History
by Ron Cassie
Published November 11 in Baltimore Magazine

Excerpt: “People were basically running here to get away from farming,” says Jeanette Walker Jones. The 80-year-old Lumbee tribe member is sitting on her porch, near her flower bed and three flags—American, Maryland, and Lumbee—which are softly waving in the afternoon breeze as she recalls her first impressions of Baltimore. “Any job was better than that. But I didn’t want to move to Baltimore. I was 15 in 1957 and didn’t have a choice. The first time I’d visited, I saw these tall buildings and people eating what I thought were ‘bugs,’ which is what crabs looked like to me. I came from a house with three rooms and no indoor plumbing. I begged my mother to leave me with my grandparents in North Carolina.”

Her sister, brother-in-law, and their four kids, members of the North Carolina-based Lumbee tribe, had migrated to Baltimore several years earlier. Her sister’s husband found employment as a commercial painter and eventually the family moved into a three-bedroom, second-floor apartment in Upper Fells Point. Jones’ father had passed away years before and soon enough her mother, along with Jeanette and her younger sister, moved north as well. Rural, low-income Robeson County offered little work outside share cropping and little in general beyond family, farming, and familiarity. The social structure was built upon a tripartite system of bigotry that divided public life—schools, theaters, buses, restaurant service, swimming pools, bathrooms—into “White,” “Indian,” and “Colored.”



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