freedom town
Brittany Hambleton
Brittany Hambleton
October 8, 2020 ·  4 min read

Families Buy 97 Acres of Land in Georgia to Build Freedom Town

The police shootings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the shooting death of Ahmaud Aubery, turned the world’s attention to one important realization: Black Americans don’t feel safe walking the streets of their own neighbourhoods.

As the ensuing unrest began rippling across the nation, two women decided they’d had enough. If they don’t feel safe in their current communities, why don’t they build a new one of their own? This new town will be named Freedom, Georgia, and will provide a safe space for people of color and those who support them.

Welcome to Freedom, Georgia

Real estate agent Ashley Scott and investor and entrepreneur Renee Walters are the masterminds behind the new community. Along with nineteen other African American families, they have purchased a 97-acre plot of land in Wilkinson County, Georgia. This will be the site of their black cooperative town, Freedom.

The purpose of the town is to create a safe space for people of color, particularly black families, who do not feel safe in their own towns and cities. Scott and Walters say they want to create a space where they can address their own issues and concerns.

“We needed to create a space and a place where we could be a village, again, a tribe, again,” they explained [1].

Both women have black husbands and black sons. They described how they had started to feel overwhelmed and anxious any time these men would leave the house. Walters saw a post that was going viral, which said that the town of Toomsboro was up for sale. She thought, why not purchase the town and start their own black city?

Not For Sale

Upon further inspection, however, Walters determined that the town was not, in fact, for sale. Instead, she found acreage for sale just outside of Toomsboro in Wilkinson County. The two women then decided that instead of purchasing a town, they’d build their own.

Scott and Walters created the Freedom Georgia Initiative to raise funds for the town. While building a new city can take decades, they believe the outpouring of support they have received will allow them to move much quicker.

“It was just such a beautiful piece of land. It was affordable, and it just made sense that we could create something that would be amazing for our families,” said Scott [1].

Freedom, Georgia, will not be exclusive to black people. 

“At the end of the day we aren’t about doing reverse racism or reverse redlining,” explained Scott. “We just want to have a space, a place where black people and pro-black people can live and breath without the injustices we are facing in our current cities and societies.” [2]

Black Cooperatives: A Safe Space for All

A cooperative is when a group of people combines resources to create a collective. Many groups have formed cooperatives throughout the history of the United States, particularly Black Americans.

Jessica Gordon Nembhard is the author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice and a professor of community justice at John Jay College. She says that Black Americans have a very long history of cooperative economics and creating their own communal towns.

Hobson City, Alabama, was founded in 1989 and was the state’s first all-Black city. Black Americans created the city after they were kicked out of surrounding communities. Mound Bayou, one of the earliest all-Black municipalities, was found by former slaves after the Civil War.

“Almost every society that had enslavement also had marooned societies,” says Gordon Nembhard. “They set up their own communities … and start to farm it together, create a town, run the town, work collectively as much as possible and basically have a secluded space that was totally community controlled, and a way to be away from slavery.” [1]

Scott and Walters hope that their’s will be the next.

Freedom, Georgia: A Plan for the Future

The plan is to develop the community in phases. First, they will clear the land, farm, and create a lake for sustainable fishing. As of now, there are nineteen families who are a part of the project. Their goal is to eventually expand to two hundred families.

As they already said, however, they will not be restricting the town to only African Americans.

“It’s impossible to have anything exclusively Black because our families are integrated,” says Scott. “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.” [1]

They added that because so much was taken from black and indigenous peoples, many of them don’t know their own stories. Freedom is a place where they can create a new story.

By the time they’re done, they hope to have a fully operational city to put Freedom, Georgia, on the map. This new city will be a legacy that each of the nineteen families will be able to pass down to their children.

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