Over 30,000 people attended Lumbee Homecoming in Pembroke, N.C. this past weekend. The annual event brings together the Lumbee community, with attendees traveling from across the country to attend and be with family and friends. The Lumbee Homecoming parade on Saturday morning was a sweltering one, but friends, families and allies of missing and murdered people in Robeson and surrounding counties pushed through.
Ten vehicles with some hooked up to parade floats were full of participants of all ages yelling “shatter the silence” and “we want justice”. Homemade signs were taped to the sides of the vehicles, and participants held signs that read “Justice for Hania Aguilar”, “Someone knows something”, and many more.
Sheila Price, the mother of a woman who was found murdered in Lumberton in 2017 shouts through a microphone “I want justice for my daughter, Rhonda Jones.” The body of Rhonda Jones was found the same day as Christina “Kristin” Bennett, in the same area. Megan Oxendine, a local to the area spoke to a local news station in this interview the day the bodies were found. Weeks later, the body of Megan Oxendine was found in a similar fashion as Rhonda and Kristin, 500 feet away.
Women AdvaNCe was a part of a team that put together a community engagement project entitled “Remembering the Missing and Murdered” at the UNC-Pembroke Museum of the Southeast American Indian. The team also consisted of Shatter the Silence, MMIWNC Coalition, Indi/visible and the UNC-Pembroke Museum of the Southeast American Indian. Loved ones of the missing and murdered and attendees of Lumbee Homecoming participated in the project. Participants honored their loved ones by making corn husk dolls, decorating gourds and writing positive affirmations and messages in memory of those lost.
In an effort to push for justice for women like Rhonda Jones, Kristin Bennett and Megan Oxendine, Women AdvaNCe will continue to support grassroots organizations like Shatter the Silence, which track the missing and murdered in Robeson County, as well as organizing and facilitating community engagement events to raise awareness about the issue.