Black families are buying 97 land in Georgia to build a city where whites are not encouraged to move
A group of 19 African-American families bought 97 acres of land in rural Georgia that they want to use to create a city that will serve as a “safe space” for black families.
The planned black cooperative city, which will become known as Freedom, will be built on land just east of Macon, Georgia in Wilkinson County.
“I hope it will be a thriving safe haven for people of color, especially black families,” said realtor Ashley Scott. CNN.
“Being able to create a community that thrives, that is safe, with farming and commercial businesses supporting each other and those dollars circulating in our community, that’s our vision.”
The idea of establishing a black co-op on an unincorporated tract of land about 120 miles southeast of Atlanta was the brainchild of Scott and her friend Renee Walters, an investor and entrepreneur.
A group of 19 black families bought 97 acres of land in Wilkinson County, Georgia that they plan to convert into a black-founded town called Freedom
The planned black cooperative city will serve as a “safe haven” for African Americans, according to project leaders
Renee Walters, an investor and entrepreneur, is one of two women who lead the Freedom Georgia Initiative
The land is located in an unincorporated portion of Wilkinson County, Georgia, about 120 miles southeast of Atlanta
The two women were moved by the racial turmoil caused by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
After the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery came to light on February 23, Scott and Walters felt the need to find a new community they could start on their own.
“Watching our people protest in the street, although it’s important, and I want people to stay on the street and draw attention to the injustice of black people,” Scott said.
‘We had to create a space and a place where we could be a village again, another tribe.’
“We wanted to create this safe space where we can address our own problems and concerns.”
Scott and Walters began to gauge the interest of their friends and relatives in joining the effort to start a black city.
“We both have black husbands. We both have black sons, ”Walters said.
And I started to get overwhelmed and felt a sense of dread when my husband left home to go to work.
So it was like, okay, what can we do?
“And once I saw Toomsboro’s post go viral about a town on sale, I thought, ‘Oh, this is perfect.”
Walters (left) and her friend Ashley Scott (right) came up with the idea amid the racial turmoil that gripped the nation after the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery
Scott and Walters created the Freedom Georgia Initiative, a plan to buy a large piece of land that would then be incorporated into a new black city – Freedom, Georgia.
Walters saw an ad selling the entire town of Toomsboro – with its 30 properties – for $ 1.7 million. Then she called Scott.
‘She said,’ Ashley, did you see the Toomsboro article for sale? For the price of a small apartment, we can buy an entire city for $ 1.7 million, ”said Scott.
‘It’s one of the few places where you can buy an entire town with any kind of building, including a historic inn, a treacle mill, an opera house, a schoolhouse, a railway depot, a cotton warehouse, a restaurant, a barber shop, a water wheel, a flour mill, a workshop, a gas station and several houses, ‘the advertisement read.
But upon further investigation it turned out that the city was not for sale.
So Scott used her real estate skills to look for land in the area. Then she found an empty lot just outside of Toomsboro in Wilkinson County unincorporated.
‘It was such a beautiful piece of land. It was affordable and it just made sense that we could create something that would be great for our families, ”said Scott.
Historians note that there is a precedent for the creation of all-black cities.
In 1899, blacks founded Hobson City, Alabama, after being thrown out of neighboring towns.
Former slaves released after the Civil War founded Mound Bayou in the Mississippi Delta.
After the purchase of the land is completed in August, Scott and Walters plan to develop the land in stages.
Initially, there are plans to clear the land, work it and create an artificial lake for sustainable fishing.
The work is needed before an application for a city charter can be submitted.
By law in Georgia, a new city must be at least one square mile in size and have 200 residents per square mile.
The goal is to expand the initiative to 200 families, making it easier to one day get a city charter
At least 60 percent of the area must be used for residential, industrial, commercial or government purposes.
The Georgia General Assembly would then have to approve a city charter. Within the first two years of the charter’s adoption, the new city should provide at least three municipal services for residents.
As of now, the one-square mile acreage is 640 acres, so the new city would have to expand and acquire an additional 520 acres of land to meet the requirements of state law.
Scott told WGXA-TV that 19 families is just not enough.
The goal is to eventually expand to 200 families. The initiative’s founders say they are not interested in limiting the city to blacks only.
“We especially want our black families to come and pioneer with us,” says Scott.
“Ultimately, we’re not about reverse racism or reverse redlining,” says Scott.
‘We just want to have a space, a place where black people and pro-black people can live and breathe without the injustice we face in our current cities and societies.’
Building a new city can take decades, but the planners hope to work at an accelerated pace.
“We thought it would take a five to ten year process, but with the plethora of support we’ve received, we can make this happen much faster,” she says.
“Once we can acquire the land, the people, the bodies, we’re going to push this.”