Nearly two dozen Black families collectively are taking major steps toward building generational wealth.
The 19 families teamed up in August 2020 to purchase 96.71 acres of land in Toomsboro, Georgia, with plans to incorporate their very own city called Freedom.
The national unrest in light of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd sparked the desire to form what’s now called the Freedom Georgia Initiative.
“I had no way to really figure out what I could do beyond protesting and signing petitions, but there was this desire, this need to be able to affect real change and amass Black power,” said realtor Ashley Scott, who serves as vice president of the initiative.
“Being able to create generational wealth and legacy is something that I preach and teach on a regular basis, so coming across this land was an opportunity to really create the generational wealth that I believe is necessary for us to be able to affect real change,” Scott said.
She, along with friend and Freedom Georgia Initiative president Renee Walters, then helped rally friends and relatives to join them on their journey to creating a Black-owned city.
“When we presented the opportunity, everybody just jumped on the chance because we just knew that it would be something great,” said Walters.
The land purchase is a major feat for the families, who have never before owned land until now.
Historically, Black people have struggled to buy or keep land due to factors like discrimination and systemic racism, said Cornelius Blanding, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund’s executive director.
He added that while the purchase was a first major step, the families should ensure their new land is protected.
“Make sure that there’s some form of will, estate plan, some corporation, some family trust, or some form of structure,” Blanding suggested. “If that town, if that land, if that community is going to survive, it has to be structured in a way that perpetuates sustainability.”
The families have a long process ahead of them in bringing their vision to life. So far, fundraising has been a success, with over $63,000 raised online.
They estimate it will take three to five years to complete the project.
“We want to be a model for cities and towns all over to show them that you can bring your friends and family together and purchase land, because now is the time,” Walters said.
“I think that’s what will help us all, by getting a piece of land, building with your friends and family, building for the community and just breathing, because that’s all we want to do in the first place.”