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An essay by Malinda Maynor Lowery

“No one we knew could imagine what in the world we had in common, but I think he and I knew that we shared.”

In the Spring 2020 issue of the Oxford American, Center for the Study of the American South Director Malinda Maynor Lowery journeys through “Lumbeeland” in an essay on grief, love, and identity.

Career Girl Meets Rock Star

“Lumbeeland” is not a universal expression. I made it up some years ago, when I was living away from home and wanted to make students, friends, and strangers chuckle as they tried to absorb information about a place they had never heard of. It’s shorthand for the swampy, flat, somewhat remote territory along the border between North and South Carolina that we call home. Historically, our homeland stretched all the way to the James River in Virginia and the Great Peedee River in South Carolina, about forty-four thousand square miles. Today, its formal boundaries are Robeson County and four adjoining counties, encompassing about thirty-two thousand square miles; it has taken hundreds of years for European settlers and their descendants to decide where these borders lie, hundreds of years for them to take that homeland from us, and they still haven’t succeeded.

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