In the face of a pandemic that has hit Black Americans harder than almost any other group, while the nation continues to confront the toxic legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, two Georgia women have come together to build a community that will be a place free of oppression, “a tight-knit community for our people to just come and breathe.”
They are calling it Freedom, Georgia, and draw their inspiration from Wakanda, the fictional comic-book country that was the setting for the movie “Black Panther.”
Ashley Scott, a realtor from Stonecrest, Ga., who was driven to seek therapy by her reaction to the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a young Black man jogging in a white neighborhood, said that after several sessions she realized that her problem was 400 years of racial oppression and trauma dating back to the establishment of slavery in North America.
“We are dealing with systemic racism,” she wrote in an op-ed for Blavity last month. “We are dealing with deep-rooted issues that will require more than protesting in the streets.”
With her friend Renee Walters, an entrepreneur and investor, she founded the Freedom Georgia Initiative, a group of 19 Black families who collectively purchased 96.71 acres of rural land in Toomsboro, a town of a few hundred people in central Georgia, with the intention of developing a self-contained Black community. The space will have small homes for vacation use and will host weddings, retreats and recreational functions, and may eventually evolve into an incorporated, self-sustaining community.
“It’s now time for us to get our friends and family together and build for ourselves,” said Walters, who serves as the president of the organization, in an interview with Yahoo News. “That’s the only way we’ll be safe. And that’s the only way that this will work. We have to start bringing each other together.”