19 people buy about 97 acres of land in Georgia to make a city safer for black people

“I hope it will be a safe safe haven for people of color, especially for black families.” Scott says.

The land settles east of Macon in rural Wilkinson County, Georgia. Scott and his friend, investor and entrepreneur Renee Walters did not initially plan to buy a large plot of land, but they had a vision that was clear – to create a safe place for their black families.

“Being able to build a thriving community, it is safe, with agricultural and commercial businesses that are supporting each other and dollars are spreading in our community, that’s our vision.”

A safe place

After the murders of George Floyd and Bryo Taylor at the hands of the police earlier this year, the unrest in the country, and being close to home, while walking outside Brunswick, Georgia, Ahmed Erby was shot dead by women. Inspired to find. A new community, one they can start themselves.

Land purchased by the Freedom Georgia Initiative in Wilkinson County, Georgia.

“To see our people protesting on the streets, while this is important, and I want people to be out on the streets, pay attention to the injustice of black people. We need to create a place and a place where we are a village Can. Again, a tribe, again, “Scott said.

“We wanted to make this a safe place where we could address our issues and concerns.”

The two wanted to start an initiative that would create a new city founded by Black families.

Walters said, “We both have black husbands. We both have black sons. And I was starting to get overwhelmed and my husband was anxious when he went out of the house to go to work.” “So, it was like, okay, what can we do? And once I saw Tomsborough’s post going viral, about a city being on sale, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s perfect. ”

Scott and Walters arrive in front of family and friends to see who might be interested in joining their effort. Together, they created the Freedom Georgia initiative to speed up the purchase. They hope to include purchased land in a new Black City called Freedom, Georgia.

Town for sale?

The advertisement was seen by Renee Walters as he roamed online, publicizing the sale of the city of Tomsboro. The advertisement eventually went viral.

Scott said he got a call when his friend caught wind of the sale. Scott said, “Ashley said, have you seen the article about Tomsborough for sale? For the price of a small condo, we can buy an entire city for $ 1.7 million,” Scott said.

CNN affiliate WGXA reported that a website called Toomsboroforsale.com was run by a developer named Tim Bumgardner, who owned more than 30 properties around the city.

“It is one of the few places where you can build a historic inn, a syrup mill, an opera house, a school house, a railroad depot, a cotton warehouse, a restaurant, a barber shop, with every kind of building. One can buy an entire city., A water wheel, a mill, a work shop, a filling station and several houses, “the advertisement read.

Turns out, the city was not actually for sale. Mayor Joyce Denson of Toomsborough made this clear.

“I’ve received calls from New York. I’ve received calls from North Carolina. I’ve told about calls from California,” Denson says. “We welcome business. We want new people to come forward. The thing we want to make sure is that you help maintain the flavor of the community.”

After Scott and Walters found out that the city itself was not up for sale, Scott put on his real estate cap and looked for land in the area. They were unquestionably found acres for sale outside Tomsborough in Wilkinson County.

Scott said, “It was just such beautiful ground. It was affordable, and it just made sense that we could create something that would be amazing for our families.”

History of black cooperatives

The combination of resources to create collective or cooperative economics is not new – especially when it comes to blacks in the United States.

“We have a very long history of cooperative economics, economic cooperation to build our own communal cities,” says Jessica Gordon Nember, author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice and Community Justice Professor John J. College. “Recently, we are establishing the Community Land Trust, which actually gives ownership of official land to the community.”

Hobson City, Alabama, was the first all-black city in the state to be founded in 1899 when blacks were driven out of neighboring cities. CNN affiliate WBRC reported in June that “Hobson City residents celebrated Juneth with a simple message to celebrate the city’s heritage: Black Town Matter”.

One of the earliest all-black municipalities was Mound Beau in the Mississippi Delta. It was founded by former slaves after the Civil War.

“Almost every society that had slavery also broke the society,” says Gordon Nemhard. “They set up their own communities … and cultivate together, build a city, run a city, work as collectively as possible and are basically a secluded place that was a fully controlled community, and from it One way to stay away is slavery. ”

“There are a lot of former black cities,” Scott said. “We hope we can be one of them as well.”

Scott and Walters say they have questions about why they want to create an all-black city. Their reaction? This is something that has been done for generations.

“It is impossible to have anything, especially in Black because our families are integrated,” says Scott. “We as Black people are also a unified, tolerant and diverse community, so we do not intend for it to be exclusively Black, but we intend to be supportive of it in every way.”

‘We are building a legacy’

Scott and Walters plan to develop the land in phases. The first phase involves clearing the land, farming and creating man-made lakes for permanent fishing.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Scott said that while he did not know the true history of his land, the symbol of reclaiming this land gives him a chance to write his story.

They hope to grow within a few years. By the end of their development plan, they put Freedom, Georgia on the map – a fully operational, self-sufficient city.

“To be able to pass this land on to our children and to the children represented by each of our 19 families, as a piece of heritage. We look forward to creating a legacy.”