91ºF

19 Black families buy 96 acres in Georgia to create safe space

Group intends to name land Freedom, Georgia

Nineteen Black families have purchased nearly 100 acres of land in rural Georgia to create a safe space

A lush and rugged expanse about 130 miles south of Atlanta, just shy of 97 acres, is undeveloped, unincorporated and it has new owners.

The founders spoke to CNN about how they are building a new community from the ground up.

“It feels amazing, feels really amazing. I cry every time I come here,” said Renee Walters, president of Freedom Georgia Initiative.

This dream for 19 Black families who recently bought this land all started a few weeks ago, during Walters’s typical morning call with her friend, Ashley Scott.

“She said, ‘Ashley, did you see the article about Toomsboro for sale?’” said Ashley Scott, vice president of Freedom Georgia Initiative.

Turns out, that the entire small town was never for sale, just a bundle of a few dozen homes and buildings.

So Scott, a real estate agent, looked for listings in the area and found one.

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

Why were these two women interested in the prospect of buying a town in the first place?

“We both have Black husbands. We both have Black sons. And I was starting to get overwhelmed and have a sense of anxiety when my husband will leave the house to go to work,” Walters said.

“It really was when we saw what happened with Ahmad Aubrey and George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the protests,” Scott said. “So, watching our people protesting in the streets, while it is important, and I want people to stay out in the streets, bringing attention to the injustices of black people, we needed to create a space and a place where we could be a village, again, a tribe, again.”

So Walters and Scott reached out to family and friends and together, bought what they intend to name Freedom, Georgia, a new black city.

“We don’t intend for it to be exclusively Black, but we do intend for it to be pro-Black in every way,” Scott said.

Jessica Gordon Nembhard, an economist and an expert on Black cooperatives, said, “I’ve found tremendous benefits to individuals, families and the communities that are involved in it, including the economic stability and prosperity, but also leadership development, social capital development, other kinds of human capital development. And so, it’s really a win-win for everybody involved to be involved.”

The owners hosted the big Black campout over Labor Day weekend.

Supporters drove in from across the country.

“By being able to create a community that is thriving, that is safe, that has agriculture and commercial businesses that are supporting one another and that dollars circulating in our community,” Scott said. “That is our vision and to be able to pass this land down to my children and to the children that are represented by each of our 19 families. As a piece of legacy. We’re hoping to create legacy.”

The plan is to introduce farming next, create a lake for sustainable fishing, facilities for recreation and eventually, develop a fully-operational, expanded city.