The first act of reparations in Georgia
50 Black families in Athens were displaced in the 1960s to make way for UGA dorms. Now they're seeking redress and a chance to testify before Congress
In the 1950s and '60s, across the U.S. , cities took advantage of the federal government’s new “urban renewal” program — which subsidized so-called “slum clearance” to make way for new development. Colleges also benefited from the program, as the Baby Boomer generation was coming of college age and universities wanted to make more room for students.
Black Americans were disproportionately affected by urban renewal, with their homes purchased via eminent domain and often sold for less than market value.
In The Intercept I wrote about one middle-class Black community in Athens, Georgia — known as Linnentown — displaced by this program. While the history had been passed down orally for decades, residents never had anything solid to prove what had been done to them, or what they lost. Then remarkably, about 2.5 years ago, a UGA library worker stumbled upon old records in the university’s special archives detailing the old transactions, displacements, and demolitions of Linnentown residents’ homes. The worker connected with the handful of living direct descendants of this community, and over the last 2 years they’ve been organizing for recognition and redress.
I wrote about their push for reparations, and whether this has implications for communities beyond Athens. I’m proud of this one, and grateful for the strong editing I received as well as the strong work from the art team, including original photographs taken by an Atlanta-based photographer. Reparations is a tricky and controversial topic, and you’ll see the folks in Athens see it as about much more than just cutting a check.
You can read it here.