Sapelo Island, Georgia — It’s a culture struggling to survive. Fewer than 50 people — all descendants of slaves — fear they may soon be taxed out of the property their families have owned since the days of slavery.
They are the Gullah-Geechee people of Sapelo Island off Georgia’s coast, near Savannah. This small, simple community is finding itself embroiled in a feud with local officials over a sudden, huge increase in property assessments that are raising property taxes as much as 600% for some. Many say the increase could force them to sell their ancestral properties. “Sapelo being the only intact Gullah-Geechee community in the country that’s left, that is a part of history. It will be a shame not to preserve””That’s part of the American history. That’s part of what built this country,” said Charles Hall, 79, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who was born under a midwife’s care in the same home he lives in today.
McIntosh County’s decision to reappraise homes on the island sparked the problem.
We knew this was coming.
We can preserve plantations but we can’t preserve communities of slave descendants.