African American families are seeking the return of land or some form of reparations from both the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia for having seized their land decades ago.
A set of families have demanded the University of Georgia and Athens-Clarke County pay them $5 million in reparations for the land they were moved from in the 1960s.
Meanwhile, the Jones family has sought just compensation for their land that was sold to the Alabama college around the same time period after the government seized it through eminent domain.
A New York Times report framed these legal claims as a “new front in reparations” and began its deep dive on subject by remarking on the growing trend of African Americans trying to get compensation for their land after it was allegedly taken from them by the government years ago.
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The report stated, “African American families across the country — particularly in the South — are pushing for the return of land they say was taken in government seizures, an emerging attempt to provide economic restoration for the long saga of Black land loss and deprived inheritances.”
It noted, “Scholars say the use of eminent domain was often racially motivated and invoked disproportionately in minority and poor communities. One study showed that between 1949 and 1973, 2,532 eminent domain projects in 992 cities displaced one million people — two-thirds of them African American.”
The Times stated that some African American families now “want the land or to be paid current market value,” adding, “In some cases, families are asking for acknowledgment of the harm done as a way to return their history to public memory.”
The legal claims to seized land have apparently grown in number in recent years, with the outlet noting that “a national organization dedicated to helping Black families recover lost land has received about 700 claims to properties since 2021.”
It acknowledged however, that “Only a very few such cases have gotten traction; most are in the early stages and could take years to progress, if they do at all.”
“But as talk of racial justice has taken a more concrete form in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, more families are seeking the return of what was once their land,” the paper stated, subsequently mentioning the legal cases against the universities.
The call for reparations has become more legitimized recently as progressive lawmakers in cities like San Francisco have put together task forces to address how much they believe the city owes its Black residents.
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The article first mentioned the Jones family claim against the University of Alabama and the local county. It said, “Mr. Jones said his research shows that the land was seized in 1962 from his parents by local government using eminent domain — authority that allows governments to seize properties in the interest of public use.”
The claim has caught the attention of the legal team representing the City of Huntsville, though according to the outlet, the city’s communications director declined to comment on the claim, saying, “Our legal team is aware, and it would be inappropriate for the City of Huntsville to publicly comment on the matter at this time.”
The paper then detailed how multiple families were bought out of land in a neighborhood called Linnentown, near the University of Georgia in the 1960s. The school has since acknowledged these families were underpaid for the land.
“A University of Georgia analysis said homeowners received only 56 percent of the amount they would have received if their properties had valued similarly to those outside of Linnentown,” the Times reported.
A 4th-generation descendant of the original Black landowners, Hattie Thomas Whitehead, has “formed a group to demand redress from the county and the university,” the outlet stated, adding, “They asked for $5 million in reparations — split between Athens-Clarke County and the college — along with memorial markers and the renaming of a building on the campus.”
Greg Trevor, a spokesman for the University of Georgia, claimed compensation would be decided by the Board of Regents of Georgia’s University System, though he told the Times that the school has “met with Linnentown descendants and had offered to include the story of Linnentown in an oral history project maintained by University of Georgia Libraries.”
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Fox News Digital reached out to both universities on Thursday for comment on the Times’ report. Trevor provided what appeared to be the same statement he gave to The New York Times. He said, “Under Georgia law then and now, only the Board of Regents may acquire and own property on behalf of member institutions of the University System of Georgia. The Board of Regents lawfully purchased this tract of land from the City of Athens after an eminent domain proceeding. Questions about the specifics of this project should be directed to the University System of Georgia in Atlanta.”
He added, “Decisions about building names and physical markers at member institutions also rest with the Board of Regents.”
The University of Alabama has yet to provide a response.
Source: Fox News