Perfect Portrait of Where We Are: 19 Black Families Join to Create Their Own Town

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP featured image
Paint and protest graffiti covers the Jefferson Davis Memorial in Richmond, Va., Sunday, June 7, 2020, following a week of unrest in the U.S. against police brutality and racism in policing. Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


America is putting it in Reverse.

Several decades ago, Martin Luther King declared that “segregation is morally wrong and sinful” as he called for people to be judged by the “content of their character.”

The 80’s saw a truly historic surge in racial unity as the flag of color-blindness was run up the pole of our national consciousness.

But as it turns out, ideas are like clothes — give it time, and they’ll come back around.

Hence, the citizenry is once again being categorized according to white and non-white, AKA the ubiquitous “people of color.”

And apropos of practical separation, in Georgia, well over a dozen black families have come together to start their own community.

Just east of Macon County sits an expansive spread purchased in August by real estate agent Ashley Scott and 19 families.

As reported by CNN, she and her investor friend, Renee Walters, “didn’t initially plan on buying a large plot of land, but they had a vision that was clear — to create a safe space for their black families.”

Ashley bullseyes their aim:

“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.”


As per CNN, the women began searching for a new neighborhood following the police shooting of Breonna Taylor and the death of George Floyd, as well as the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in the Peach State.

In the aftermath of those events, Ashley’s glad people are out en masse, but for her, it’s important to make a return to tribal living:

“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.”

It seems they’re going back to the days of emphasized local governance:

“We wanted to create this safe space where we can address our own issues and concerns.”

Finally — security unavailable in the greater world:

“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. So, it was like, ‘Okay, what can we do?'”

Fast-forward to the purchase of 97 acres just outside the city of Toomsboro.

As noted by CNN, old is new again:

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

“We have a very long history of doing cooperative economics, economic cooperation, creating our own communal towns,” says Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice and professor of community justice at John Jay College. “More recently, we’ve been establishing community land trust, which actually give official land ownership to the community.”

Hobson City, Alabama, was the state’s first all-black city, founded in 1899 after blacks were kicked out of neighboring towns. CNN affiliate WBRC reported in June that “Hobson City residents celebrated Juneteenth with one simple message: Black Towns Matter” to celebrate the city’s heritage.


Back to Ashley, she noted there’s “so many former black cities. We hope that we can be one of those as well.”

But just to be clear:

“It’s impossible to have anything exclusively black because our families are integrated. We are an integrated, tolerant and diverse community even as black people, so we don’t intend for it to be exclusively black, but we do intend for it to be pro-black in every way.”

Now that they have the land, they’ll be clearing it, farming it, and creating a lake for sustainable fishing.

And in a few years, they hope, Freedom, Georgia will be on the map.

She’s imagining a commune for the ages:

“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.”

Will the children of children in the modern age want to live on the same land as their grandparents? I guess in time, we’ll see.

Meanwhile, it seems to me Ashley’s planned community is a spot-on portrait of where we are at the moment — and where we may be for a very long while.

And hers is a perfect description: It’s the kind of place that creates a legacy.



See more pieces from me:

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