Black residents in Georgia known as the Gullah Geechee are worried that zoning changes could push the indigenous landowners out of their homes.
According to AP, county commissioners in McIntosh are considering doubling the maximum size of houses built in the small Hogg Hummock community on Sapelo Island. The proposal, which is scheduled for a Tuesday vote, is believed to favor wealthy buyers and could lead to tax increases that would force residents to sell due to price hikes.
Roger Lotson, the only Black member of the local commission pleaded with his colleagues to reject the proposal saying, “This plan will be be a giant step in the destruction of the culture of Hogg Hummock. It may be inevitable, but let us not be the board that drives the nail in this coffin.”
It’s been over three decades since Hogg Hummock’s original zoning restrictions were adopted to help the indigenous Gullah Gueeche keep their land. Now the 30 to 50 residents who still live there may have to give up their land.
“People are already selling off land because they don’t want to pay high taxes,” Sapelo Island resident. JR Grovner told AP. “Older people aren’t going to be able to afford higher taxes.”
In the early 1700s, when what we know as America began to take shape, some Gullah Geechee slaves were able to escape slavery more than 150 years before the start of the Civil War. These fugitive slaves fled south into the Florida peninsula from coastal South Carolina and Georgia. At the time Florida, which was owned by the Spanish, was nothing more than a swampy jungle.
The Gullah Geechee are direct descendants of Africans who were enslaved on the rice, indigo and Sea Island cotton plantations of the lower Atlantic coast. The Gullah people were known for their distinctive arts, crafts, foodways, music, and language. The Gullahs speak a unique Creole language and are mostly found in the coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
Hogg Hummock’s population has been shrinking in recent decades, and some families have sold their land to outsiders who built vacation homes. In 2012, dozens of Hogg Hummock residents and landowners appealed tax increases caused by soaring property values. County officials rolled back most of them.
In 1996, Hogg Hummock was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, America’s list of treasured historic sites. The proposed zoning changes could also erase language that recognizes Hogg Hummock as a historic site worthy of special protections.
The post Georgia’s Gullah Geechee In Trouble As Zoning Changes Could Mean The ‘Destruction Of The Culture’ appeared first on NewsOne.
Georgia’s Gullah Geechee In Trouble As Zoning Changes Could Mean The ‘Destruction Of The Culture’ was originally published on newsone.com
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