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A Heart for Harlem...

During an era when there were little to no jobs, widespread paranoia, and rampant racism, Ina Lawson had overcome.
(Ina Lawson, circa 1920's)

A woman of stern qualities and humility, Lawson apparently did all that she could to follow her dreams.
(Ina Lawson & friend, Easter 1925)

Born in the 1900's as an only child, Lawson grew up in Virginia and relocated to Baltimore, Maryland in her late teens (early 20's). She gave birth to a daughter, Lillie Mae Jarrells, on October 13th, 1920, and married her lover, Mr. Lowell Lawson, in 1925.
(Mr. Lowell Lawson, circa 1925/1926)

What's most interesting about her relationship isn't the fact that she left her husband, but the fact that she also left behind her daughter.
(Ina & Lowell Lawson, circa 1925/1926)

After the separation from her husband, Lawson moved north- to New York, New York, finally settling in Harlem. In perhaps one of the most gut-wrenching decisions, Lawson sent her daughter to live with an old, family acquaintance in Richmond, Virgina, and whether it was out of a need for solitude or a need for more income (for her and her daughter), the reasoning behind it is still unknown; yet, what is known is that after she turned 18, Jarrells eventually moved to New York to live with her mother. Such a story isn't unique to just the Lawson family, as many an African-American mothers sent their daughters to be raised down south, while they in-turn made a living up north, because of the work opportunities.


Lawson's transition to New York, occurred in 1932, right at the start of The Great Depression. The Great Depression was a worldwide severe economic downturn that happened in 1929, just before World War II, and lasted until the late '30s/early '40s, and novels such as The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird, were all written about and/or during this era.
(Ina Lawson & friends, 1932)

In regard to the toil that the 'Depression' had on the economy, John D. Rockefeller said, "These are days when many are discouraged. In the 93 years of my life, depressions have come and gone. Prosperity has always returned and will again." Yet, when paired against some of the disastrous images from that time, it's hard to imagine that a Black woman, such as Lawson, would be prosperous and have made a living for herself in America- let alone in New York, where the stock market crash was heard around the world... But, indeed, she did.

(Stock Market Crash- Black Tuesday, October 1929)

(Ina Lawson & friends, circa 1930's)

(Evidence of the Great Depression- man homeless)

(Evidence of the Great Depression- Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" portrait)

(Ina Lawson portrait, circa 1930's)

The family photos of Lawson looking well and dressed fabulously, both by herself and with friends, during the Depression, says a lot within itself...
(Ina Lawson portrait, circa 1930's)

If pictures could say 'a thousand words,' then Lawson's photos would speak volumes.
(Ina Lawson, circa 1940/1950's)

References:
Jarrells & Washington Family Archives, www.wikipedia.org

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