In the middle of the protests over police brutality and a pandemic, 19 black families have joined forces and purchased 96.71 acres of land in Toomsboro, Georgia. They plan to build a new, safe city there.

Ashley Scott, a Georgia-based realtor, started The Freedom Georgia Initiative with a few like-minded people.

In an op-ed for Blavity, Scott explained that the idea came after the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was killed by a group of white men while out on a jog.

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“I am concerned. At times distraught. For the first time ever in my life, I felt disempowered. So much so that the overachieving, solution-oriented, practical, non-emotional person that I am had to stop,” Scott wrote.

“I sought counseling from a black therapist and it helped. It helped me to realize that what we as black people are suffering from is racial trauma. We are dealing with systemic racism. We are dealing with deep-rooted issues that will require more than protesting in the streets. It will take for us as a people, as Atlanta rapper and activist Killer Mike so eloquently put, ‘To plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize.’ So that’s what I and my good friend Renee Walters, an entrepreneur and investor, did.”

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Together, they began to look for ways to change the world for the better in whatever way they could. “We wanted to make some kind of difference that could ensure the safety of our black sons and black husbands when they went about their lives just breathing and being. We wanted to do something to amass black power to affect real change.”

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“We considered the reality that even in Atlanta, with an exceptional black woman like Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, there was still no respect for the humanity of blacks,” Scott continued. “Even with Erika Shields, a black woman chief of police at the helm, there was the murder of Rayshard Brooks. We can see there is something much deeper happening. Politics, as usual, isn’t the answer. Something new has to happen.”

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The group joined several Facebook groups discussing building black cities and new Black Wall Streets, and it turned out there were more people who shared the same desires. “It was clear to me that developing new cities was necessary because these old ones, even with strong black leadership, have too many deep-rooted problems.”

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As a realtor, Scott has been sitting in on zoning and city council meetings. “At first, I attended wanting to get a few new clients, but seeing the progress of the newly created city of Stonecrest, Georgia, inspired me.”

It motivated Scott to look more deeply into local politics and how cities are created. “My research into cityhood gave me insight that this is how we change our communities and build real black power.”

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“Black power comes from wealth,” Scott explained. “Wealth is created through cash-flow and assets. Who has more cash flow and assets than governments? Where does the cash-flow come from? Taxes and bonds. Who pays taxes? Landowners. Who runs governments? People. We are the people. We have to be more involved, especially young people!”

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Scott said she knows people might start wondering, ‘What in the world does all this have to do with why you all purchased land in the midst of protests and a pandemic, and how you used cooperative economics to do it?’ According to her, everything.

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“We figured we could try to fix a broken system or we could start fresh. Start a city that could be a shining example of being the change you want to see. We wanted to be more involved in creating the lives we really want for our black families. And maybe, just maybe, create some generational wealth for ourselves by investing in the land. Investing in creating a community that is built around our core values and beliefs.”

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The plan is to create a community with green, environmentally safe, and eco-friendly building materials that honor Mother Nature, a community that is self-sufficient and thriving with a living food system built by black farmers to provide food security for all their neighbors, a community that prioritizes diversity and inclusion by hiring BIPOC and women vendors, suppliers and contractors, a community that boasts accessible spaces for all people, finally, a community where all black folks could come home without being murdered by police.

“We made a PowerPoint presentation the day after we left the ‘Toomsboro for Sale’ open house. We called our like-minded friends and family. We impressed upon them the urgent power of now. We brought 19 families together on one accord during a series of online meetings. We started an LLC. We considered a field and we bought it. We bought 96.71 acres of land!”

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