Ashley Scott had to seek aid after witnessing the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old man. After seeking counseling and noticing the shortage of safe spaces for her fellow Black people in the wake of high-profile incidences of racism and police brutality, Scott teamed up with her good friend Renee Walters to form The Freedom Georgia Initiative.
The organization has purchased 96.71 acres of land in Toomsboro, Georgia, in order to establish what it hopes would be the new Black Wall Street, a town where African-Americans can feel comfortable and thrive.
“I got therapy from a Black therapist, and it was beneficial. It helped me recognize that what we are going through as Black people is racial trauma. In an op-ed published on Blavity, Scott wrote, “We are dealing with systematic racism.”
“We’re dealing with deep-seated issues that will necessitate more than street protests. As Atlanta rapper and activist Killer Mike so eloquently put it, we must plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize as a people. So that’s what my dear friend Renee Walters, a businesswoman and investor, and I did.”
Following the introduction of their Freedom Georgia Initiative, Scott and Walters attended local city council and zoning hearings before joining 19 other families in purchasing the huge site in Toomsboro.
She wrote, “We figured we could either try to fix a flawed system or start from scratch.” “Start a city that can be a shining example of being the change you wish to see in the world. We wanted to play a bigger role in shaping the futures we want for our Black families, and perhaps, just maybe, build some generational wealth for ourselves by investing in the land. Investing in the development of a community based on our basic values and beliefs.”
The Freedom Georgia Initiative “hopes to provide an innovative paradigm for self-sufficiency, environmental sustainability, and cooperative economy among BIPOC communities throughout the African Diaspora globally,” according to its website.
According to Scott, the newly purchased acreage will be home to Black farmers, contractors, suppliers, and merchants.
“Acquire land, produce cheap housing for yourself, build your own food systems, manufacturing and supply chains, home school communities, banks and credit unions, cities, police departments, tax yourselves, and elect a mayor and city council you can trust,” Scott said in her op-ed.
“Start from the ground up! Then go acquire all of the money the US government has available for government entities and buy bonds with it. This is how we’re going to construct our new Black Wall Streets.”
The purchase of this enormous parcel of land comes at a time when more Black families are starting to buy homes. This month, a Black couple expressed their happiness after purchasing a 53-acre ranch to pass on to their children and grandchildren.
According to a survey by Prosperity Now, the black homeownership rate has lagged behind that of white families for years, and the gap has grown during the Great Recession.
According to the report, the black homeownership rate was the lowest of all racial and ethnic groups in 2017, at 41.8 percent, around the same as when the Fair Housing Act was implemented in 1968.
Affordability, according to experts, is to blame for the current scenario. Renters across the United States are unable to find residences they can afford, according to a recent Bloomberg research, as starter-home prices continue to soar.
Despite these obstacles, “it looks that more black families are beginning to move into homeownership now, more than 10 years after a housing crash that hurt black homeowners the hardest,” said Jeff Tucker, an economist with a real estate marketplace website Zillow, in February.
Furthermore, the concept of establishing an all-Black town is not new to the African-American community.
Between 1865 and 1915, around 50 years after the Civil War, at least 60 black communities sprung up across the United States. Oklahoma led all other states with more than 20. It is established that no other African-American men and women, not in the Deep South nor in the Far West, came together to create, inhabit, and administer their own communities. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, African Americans established more than 50 distinct towns and communities between 1865 and 1920, with several still existing at the turn of the century.
The millions of enslaved Blacks who were freed after the Civil War formed the majority of them. These freed slaves were able to purchase some land in order to ensure their independence from the white world.