When people ask—and it seems like people always be askin to where I can’t never get away from it—I say, Yeah, that’s right, my mother name was Henrietta Lacks, she died in 1951, John Hopkins took her cells and them cells are still livin today, still multiplyin, still growin and spreadin if you don’t keep em frozen. Science calls her HeLa and she’s all over the world in medical facilities, in all the computers and the Internet everywhere.
When I go to the doctor for my checkups I always say my mother was HeLa. They get all excited, tell me stuff like how her cells helped make my blood pressure medicines and antidepression pills and how all this important stuff in science happen cause of her. But they don’t never explain more than just sayin, Yeah, your mother was on the moon, she been in nuclear bombs and made that polio vaccine. I really don’t know how she did all that, but I guess I’m glad she did, cause that means she helpin lots of people. I think she would like that.
But I always have thought it was strange, if our mother cells done so much for medicine, how come her family can’t afford to see no doctors? Don’t make no sense. People got rich off my mother without us even knowin about them takin her cells, now we don’t get a dime. I used to get so mad about that to where it made me sick and I had to take pills. But I don’t got it in me no more to fight. I just want to know who my mother was.
Different Place, Different Race: Lumbees in the Florida Panhandle
The Jones Family and the Florida and North Carolina Census
This is a handy example of hundreds of Indians from the Florida panhandle who often migrated back and forth between North Carolina and Florida. Many had family roots in Robeson County North Carolina but had been living in Floridas Lumbee settlemets at Scotts Town (Jackson County), Scotts Ferry (Calhoun County), Woods (Liberty County), and others for generations. In the Carolinas these Indians were identified as “Indian” but in Florida would be identified as “White”, or more often, as” Black”, “negro”, or “Mulatto” by census takers and local officials. Hundreds of court cases, military enlistment forms, and other documentary evidence point to this being common during the 1860-1960 Jim Crow era. Indian in the Carolinas had enough clout to be able to muster some small amount of political control over their identity, but the small amount of Indians in north Florida’s panhandle were often documented as catching the brunt of the local white power structures uninformed attitudes and actions towards native Americans, especially in the lower south such as Florida’s panhandle, south Alabama, and south Georgia, places many Lumbee and Sumter County Cheraw had migrated to work in the turpentine industries.
The comparison of these two identifications of the same people as 2 different races on 2 different documents illustrates this lack of self-determination the Florida Lumbee was saddled with.
1910 census…Walton County….Bruce Community….Florida
#57 Jones, Arther E 36 white male b.NC turpentiner
” ” , Dovie 30 white female b.NC
“ ” , Alton 5 white male b.FL
“ ” , Margaret 3 white female b.FL
“ ” , Grace 1 white female b.FL
1920 the whole family back in Robeson Co. NC censused as “Indian”
1930 census….Robeson County NC….Pembroke Dist 35
Jones, Arthur C 57 Indian full-blood b. NC
“ ” , Dovie 52 Indian full-blood b. NC
“ ” , Alton B 24 Indian full-blood b. FL
“ ” , Margaret 28 Indian full-blood b. FL
The Jones family was one of two dozen Lumbee families living and working in Florida on and off. Some of the other families with similar situations include the Ammons, Ayers, Barnwell, Bass, Blanchard, Boggs, Brown, Bullard, Bunch, Bryant, Chason, Chavis/Chavers, Conyers, Copeland, Davis, Doyle, Goins, Hall, Harris, Hicks, Hill, Holly, Ireland, Jacobs, Johnson, Jones, Kever, Long, Lovett, Mainer, Martin, Mayo, Moses, Oxendine, Perkins, Porter, Potter, Quinn, Scott, Simmons, Smith, Stafford, Stephens, Sweat, Thomas, Whitfield, and Williams
By Chris Sewell - http://floridahybridpeoples.blogspot.com/