Scenes And Sorrows: A Portrait Of Weeping Mary | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Scenes And Sorrows: A Portrait Of Weeping Mary

Play associated audio

Texas is full of memorable town names — Blanket, Stagecoach, Domino and Paint Rock, to list just a few. Each has at least one tale behind it, and All Things Considered host Melissa Block has been telling some of them as part of the series Deep In the Heart Of (A Transforming) Texas.

One of them is Weeping Mary, an unincorporated town in rural east Texas. It was established as a "freedom colony" with land given to former slaves after the Civil War.

Photographer O. Rufus Lovett started photographing the residents of Weeping Mary in 1994. There are a few stories as to how the town got its name, but one tends to stick.

"There was a lady named Mary who lived there and folklore has it, anyway, that a white man wanted to purchase her land. And she did not want to sell it to a white man," Lovett says.

The man in question persuaded a black man to purchase the land for him instead.

"So Mary was tricked out of selling her land to another African-American," he says. "She became very distraught over this and wept and wept."

She became known as "Weeping Mary," and the community later adopted the name.

When Lovett first started taking photos in the town, getting anyone to share the origin story was tough.

"[I] had to do a little coaxing after visiting Weeping Mary over a period of time to even get the story from elders in the community," he says. "So this is front-porch lore in Weeping Mary."

And for now, that lore seems to stay with older folks in the town.

"I'm not sure how much that's passed down anymore," he says. "And oftentimes they don't want to discuss that because of the circumstances because it did deal with a racial issue. At the same time, it's part of our history, unfortunately. In a way, it's part of who we are."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Trevor Noah Will Replace Jon Stewart As Host Of 'The Daily Show'

Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless says that Trevor Noah "has a huge international following and is poised to explode here in America."
NPR

Cheez Whiz Helped Spread Processed Foods. Will It Be Squeezed Out?

Turns out, the history of Kraft's dull-orange cheese spread says a lot about the processed food industry — and where it might be headed as Kraft and Heinz merge.
WAMU 88.5

Will McAuliffe Make Good On Campaign Promises In Virginia?

Virginia lawmakers will be back in session next month, and the governor will try once again to deliver on the campaign promises that were central to his campaign.

NPR

App That Aims To Make Books 'Squeaky Clean' Draws Ire From Edited Writers

Clean Reader — an app designed to find, block and replace profanity in books — has drawn considerable criticism from authors. This week, makers of the app announced they would no longer sell e-books.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.