Georgia Black-owned town Freedom makes news [watch]

Black-Owned Town Named Freedom Could Be Reality TV Series

By Jeff Arnold, Patch Staff

A small town 130 miles from Atlanta is the site of a developing sustainable community that will serve as a ‘safe haven’ for Black residents.

The formation of a Black-owned community in rural Georgia could be the setting of a new reality television series.

A collection of 19 families who recently purchased nearly 98 acres in a small Georgia town 130 miles outside of Atlanta may not only be on the verge of creating their own slice of community, but may also be the subject of a new reality television series that would document the formation of a placed called Freedom.

The Freedom Georgia Initiative has reportedly been contacted by TV production companies with deep connections to cable television networks that may interested in following the saga of a group that is seeking to create a “safe haven” for Black families in the rural town of Toomsboro, TMZ reported.

In late July, the Freedom Georgia Initiative posted a blog entry on its website that indicates the group was seeking $88,000 to help bring amenities for 97.6 acres of newly acquired land for a Big Black campout over Labor Day weekend and other Big Black events. The group’s vision, according to its website, is to establish an innovative community for environmentally sustainable living that promotes health and wellness.

The Freedom Georgia Initiative was founded by Renee Walters and Ashley Scott and has an Instagram following of 18,500 and includes a video that promotes Freedom, Georgia, as the land of the free and that includes the hashtag #blackcanworktogether.

Attempts by Patch to reach Walters and Scott on Tuesday were not successful.

“Watching our Black men being murdered on national television in front of everybody, it kind of just all shook us by storm,” Walters said in a recent video interview with Yahoo! News. “It’s now time for us to get our friends and families together and build for ourselves. That’s the only way we will be safe. That’s the only way this will work.”

TMZ reported that the families involved in the project want full rights to any television project as well as how it is edited and distributed. The production companies have links to networks like HGTV, A&E, Lifetime and others that specialize in reality programming involving lifestyle.

Last month Scott, who works as a real estate agent, wrote on blavity.com that in an effort to make a difference, she and Walters sought out the property in Toomsboro to create a new city because “these old ones, even with strong Black leadership, have too many deep-rooted problems.

Meanwhile, Toomsboro is maintaining its own identity despite a population of less than 700 people. While the Freedom Georgia group has plans to make the 97 acres it purchased its own, Toomsboro Mayor Joyce Denson made it clear earlier this summer that the town, located just off Highway 57 in Wilkinson County, has no plans of uprooting.

A now-defunct website, Toomsboroforsale.com, this summer advertised Toomsboro as being “one of the few places you can buy a whole town with every kind of building.” The site, according to a TV news report, was run by Tim Bumgardner, who, as of earlier this summer, owned more than 30 properties in town.

The website is no longer active and Denson told the television station that while Bumgardner was selling off properties, the town itself is not for sale. Previous mayors have made similar proclamations in the past, including in 2015, when then-Mayor Chris Thomas said, “Type up city of Toomsboro on the internet. It’s automatically going to pop up ‘town is for sale.'”

Denson did not immediately return a phone call from Patch on Tuesday seeking comment on the Georgia Initiative Project.

According to the TV report, the town is valued at $1.7 million, which is down from $2 million in 2012.

“It has been advertised for years that (the town) is for sale,” Denson said in June. “This is not a first….Toomsboro is not for sale – we don’t have anything to do with that.”

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