By B. Renee Robinson
I visited Sapelo Island, Georgia in August and it is one of the quietest, friendliest places that I have ever encountered. The residents are truly salt-of-the-earth people who pool their human capital and resources together to ensure everyone on the island is fine. Many of the residents are entrepreneurs, their businesses sustain their households.
The Gullah Geechee or Geechee Gullah (depending on who you talk to) people and culture cover the coast of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Some of the people have maintained their dialect which can be traced back to their slave descendants.
McIntosh County Tax Commissioner increased the residents’ property taxes which caused some generational homes and property to be sold at auction because the owners could not afford the massive tax increases. Local governments strategically increase property assessments as a way to acquire and redevelop desirable property, coupled with displacing less desirable, less affluent people.
This land is owned by the direct descendants of slaves and they BOUGHT their property instead of relying on the ’40 acres and a mule’ that was promised to former slaves. When their descendants purchased their land white people did not see ANY value in it.
Now many whites are moving to the island to purchase vacation homes, coupled with land for resorts. It is important to note, despite paying more taxes Sapelo Island residents do not currently have access to police, fire, ambulance, or hospital services without accessing the mainland.