Two women from Georgia were outraged by seeing the steady stream of images of Black men and women gunned down by law enforcement and white vigilantes. So much so that it drove the women, Ashley Scott and Renee Walters, to create a territory free of oppression.
Along with a group of 17 other Black families, Scott and Walters formed the Freedom Georgia Initiative, which purchased nearly 100 acres in Toomsboro, Ga., a town of a few hundred people, with the intention of developing a self-contained Black community.
RENEE WALTERS: We are the buying power. If we can just teach each other to circulate our dollars within the community, we will solve our own problem. We are literally the answer to our own problem, but we have to change our thinking and come together.
My name is Renee Walters, and I am the president of The Freedom Georgia Initiative. I have a Black husband. I have a Black son. Every time he would leave out for work or just to go to the store or anything, I would have a sense of anxiety just from watching everything that we've been going through lately with the pandemic and watching our Black men being murdered on national television in front of everybody. It kind of just all shook us by storm.
It's now time for us to get our friends and family together and build for ourselves. That's the only way we'll be safe. That's the only way that this will work. We have to start bringing each other together.
Well, we're looking to get amenities on the land. We want to have a place where you can have weddings, a nice retreat-- we'll have tiny homes. We really just want you to come and hang out and feel safe. You don't have to worry about the Karens of the world and anything like that. You just come and have fun. We'll have a sportsmen area here with fishing, hunting, shooting range, ATV trails. We really just want to build a tight-knit community for our people to just come and breathe. Yeah, and I know they have a bad stigma that, oh, Black people can't come together. But just like how Black Wall Street, their dollars circulated around 11 times before it left the community, and that's just something we want to bring back. We want to encourage businesses to come. And we want to circulate our dollar within the community before it leaves out to someone else. We want to make everybody in our areas wealthy.
For every time we go to the land and in the actual cities, like, we haven't received any backlash. Everyone is really nice and welcoming. It's the internet trolls-- the negativity in the world, like, oh, you guys are gonna fail. Isn't this segregation? This is not what Martin Luther King stood for.
And it's not us segregating ourselves. It's just we're building where we can come and be safe. Like, Chinatown has these areas. You go up and down Beaufort Highway, you can't even read some of the signs because it's not in our language, and nobody has a problem. And why is it that when we want to build, we're considered racist, or we're segregating ourselves-- why can't we have our own safe haven?
Every community has them. Everyone is welcome in Freedom, but it is basically based on seeing Black people flourish. And that's all we want, because every time we tried to, somebody tried to burn it down or we got some type of backlash. And I'm just tired of that. It's time for us to build our own.