Descendants of Historic Black Area Push University of Georgia for Memorial

In Summary

It’s been more than 50 years since the city of Athens reportedly forced families out of their homes to expand housing and parking lots at the University of Georgia, and former residents still aren’t ready to forgive without an apology. 

It’s been 60 years since the city of Athens, Georgia utilized eminent domain to evict Black families from their neighborhood in the 1960s, replacing their homes with University of Georgia dorms and parking lots. 

Despite the passage of time, the grief persists, and a group of former residents and descendants is urging the university to apologize for the land theft and establish a Linnentown memorial, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

RELATED: Congolese Women Taken From Mothers Seek Belgian Reparations Decades Later 

Eminent domain is the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use in exchange for compensation. 

“They wanted to expand for parking lots and dorms on the backs of Black families, and Blacks couldn’t even get into UGA,” said Hattie Thomas Whitehead, as reported by AJC. “It is heartbreaking because a whole community — that nurtured, loved and supported you — was erased.” 

Whitehead is the president and community outreach coordinator for the Linnentown Project, a community-driven effort campaigning for reparations for the historic Black community. 

Up to the 1960s, Whitehead estimated about 40 Black families lived in Linnentown, with about 60% of them owning their homes. 

The Linnentown group received “reparations” from the Athens-Clarke County Commission in February, when the commission unanimously adopted a broad resolution recognizing and apologizing for acts of “institutionalized white racism and terrorism” perpetrated against former residents by the city and UGA during the period of urban renewal.  

It is said to be the first action taken by any Georgia government institution to address a Black community’s devastation. 

RELATED: Purdue University Honors ‘Trailblazing’ Parker Sisters by Renaming Dormitories 

“Through intimidation, weaponized code enforcement, inequitable property value judgments, controlled demolition by fires, forced tenancy and rent, tokenized Black representation, invasions of financial privacy, and paternalistic relocation policies, Linnentown was effectively erased without a trace by the City of Athens and the University System of Georgia,” the resolution read. 

While the apology and subsequent resolution is a start, some families say it’s not nearly enough. 

Latest in Black History

Dr. Kariamu Welsh Dies

Black History

African Diaspora Dance Pioneer Kariamu Welsh Dies at 72

Black History

Astronaut Jessica Watkins To Be First Black Woman on Space Station

Texas State University

Black History

Texas State University Renames Dormitories After Women of Color Pioneers

Young Dolph

Black History

Makeda’s Cookies Honors the Life of Young Dolph

Groveland Four

Black History

Groveland Four Posthumously Exonerated 7 Decades After Rape Accusation

Black History

Emilie Kouatchou, First Black Christine in ‘Phantom of the Opera’

Erin Jackson

Black History

Erin Jackson Skates Into US History as First Black Woman To Win World Cup

Black History

Rice University Gets First Black Immigrant President