Today, the old story goes, African Americans were promised “40 acres and a Mule”1. True, if all slaves lived in Savannah, GA. — After the Civil War, Gen. William T. Sherman, hosted a meeting with local black leaders. Afterward, Sherman signed Field Order 15, promising 400,000 acres of confiscated land and some leftover Army mules to newly freed slaves. Roughly giving each family 40-acres. That was until the Confederates came back home from war. As the land was not his to give away.
But honestly, Is any of this land theirs to give?
Since 1619, in the course of many hardships on this new land slaves and African Americans have been carving out their space in this country. From Chicago — New York — DC — Memphis — to Tulsa. With sizable black populations and wealth consistently growing, the promise to gain footing was proven once again to be empty; Greenwood District, 1921. Tulsa, Oklahoma, 35 blocks better known as Black Wall Street were burned down in a race war.
The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house, They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change,” Audre Lorde – Essay,1984
Jim Crow never said he would play fair.
Any promises or potential hope for a better future always had an underlying agenda, one so bold that a redline seemed to form around the African American communities. Between the 1930s and the late 1960s banks would use maps to dictate and determine who was eligible to get loans. Often making it impossible to secure a home mortgage. If one was obtained the stipulations and interest rate was beyond comparable to those of their white counterparts. The promise to be equal and to act fair in 1968, empty. Somewhat.
In recent years we have seen a trend of African American’s buying back The Block. Obtaining their 40+ acres; mules aside. Rebuilding and redefining a legacy. Amidst a pandemic, where our country is crumbling beneath our feet daily, African Americans have found ways to push through and overcome.
While we were all locked in our homes, begging for reprieve, Robert Hartwell2 decided to fill our social media3 timelines with a moment for the ancestors. A “Generational move” as he calls it. Hartwell a former broadway actor, saw a home, made an internal claim, called the seller, and was told that it was a cash only offer. “I’m sure this takes you off the table”, the sellers way of telling him no; to bad the ancestors told him Yes! Hartwell paid cash purchasing an 1820s colonial home in Great Barrington, Mass.
“I don’t come from money, but this purchase changes our story.” – Robert Hartwell
Not to be outdone by Robert Hartwell, the Rodgers Family4 decided to rise to the occasion and give us something else to celebrate on our timelines. On the 10th year anniversary of her business, Rachel Rodgers and family showed us what a 53-acre ranch celebration looked like.
Out of frustration, exhausting, and an extreme sense of urgency 19 families from Georgia and Florida pulled their money together to purchase 97-acres of land outside of Atlanta, GA to build generational wealth. — Ujamaa, a Swahili word defined as Cooperative Economics. The Freedom Georgia initiative5 is the definition personified.. They have a vision to create a safe haven and community for black families and their allies.
Fawn Weaver, CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey6, read a New York Times article7 that introduced to the world another name behind the brand that we know as Jack Daniels. This article sparked her curiosity to find out more about this mystery man Nathaniel Green, affectionately known as Uncle Nearest. Not only did she take many years to research the story behind the man, as well as interview many of his descendants, she took it a step further and created the brand we know today. Now owning the 313-acre Dan Call Farm8, which were used by Green and Daniels. As well as the historic Tolley House9, built by the sister of Jack Daniels and widely known to have been the residence of many Jack Daniel’s Master Distillers. This is
not to be outdone by the 270-acre Sandy Creek Farms, now the home to Nearest Green Distillery.