Black residents who were pushed out of their Georgia homes in the 1960s for student housing are entitled to upwards of $5 million, a new report shows.
According to a University of Georgia economic analysis published last week, the former residents of Linnentown took a financial hit when they were displaced in the 1960s and were compensated next to nothing for their homes in the Athens-Clarke County area.
The estimate, however, doesn’t account for education or job loss or the emotional trauma that the residents had to face when they were forced to relocate.
“I think it’s important to note at the outset that our research is not meant to cover all forms of loss,” UGA professor Jerry Shannon said.
Linnentown was a close-knit, self-sustaining Black community before the University of Georgia and the city of Athens used eminent domain to destroy the homes and replace them with two high-rise dorms and a parking deck decades ago.
Former resident Bobby Crook said his house was equipped with a chicken coop, hog pen and smokehouse and had a fish pond in the yard. He said that everyone would help look out for each other and help each other along, from electrical work to plumbing to sowing.
Athens used eminent domain — which allows government to seize private property in cases where homeowners receive monetary compensation — to take over the properties in the neighborhood when Cook was 11 years old. It is now UGA’s Brumby Hall.
“Everybody was crying and in an uproar. ‘The university is taking our house. We’ve got to move,’ they were saying,” said Cook.
The full toll of the economic and psychological damages may never be assessed. UGA officials and Athens-Clarke County must split the repayment for undervaluing the homes.
Read full story at Atlanta Black Star here.