19 families buy almost 100 acres of land for 'safe haven' for Black people

Monday, September 14, 2020
19 families purchase 'safe haven' land for Black Georgians
WATCH: Hear from the President and Vice President of the Freedom Georgia Initiative about what purchasing the land means to their community.

WILKINSON COUNTY, Georgia -- A group of 19 Black families have purchased nearly 100 acres of land in rural Georgia to create a safe space for Black people.

The lush and rugged undeveloped expanse about 130 miles south of Atlanta is just shy of 97 acres.

"It feels amazing, feels really amazing," Renee Walters, President of the Freedom Georgia Initiative told CNN. "I cry every time I come here."

This dream all started a few weeks ago during a phone call with her friend, Ashley Scott.

"She said, 'Ashley, did you see the article about Toomsboro for sale?'" Scott, Vice President of the Freedom Georgia Initiative, recalled.

"We needed to create a space and a place where we could be a village again, a tribe again," the Freedom Georgia Initiative President said.

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

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

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

The women were interested in the prospect of buying a town in response to recent protests and outcries for racial justice across the U.S.

"When we saw what happened with Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the protests," Scott said. "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 continued.

"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," Walters said."We needed to create a space and a place where we could be a village again, a tribe again."

The two women reached out to family and friends and together, bought what they call "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 clarified.

Supporters drove to the land from across the country over Labor Day weekend for a "Big Black Camp Out."

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

"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. That is our vision, 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," Scott said. We're hoping to create legacy."