I SEE U, Episode 44: We Shall Not Be Moved [Encore]

One of the last descendants of enslaved Africans who live along the coastal regions of Georgia says they have been fighting for years to preserve their unique culture, retain their indigenous traditions and prevent their precious land from being taken away from them. This episode is an encore of the April 16th, 2022 broadcast.


descendants of the enslaved Gullah Geechee and a resident of Sapelo Island, Reginald Hall


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Only a few descendants of West African slaves remain on a coastal Georgia portion of land called, Sapelo Island. In the early 1800s, ancestors of the Gullah Geechee community were brought to these barrier islands along the nation’s southeast Atlantic coast to work on plantations. These slaves acquired land on the island – but decades later, that ownership is almost diminished. Many of the residents say they’ve been squeezed out due to deliberate tax hikes and gentrification of the area. Join host Eddie Robinson as I SEE U explores the African cultural heritage of the Gullah Geechee. We’ll meet one of the descendants of the enslaved and a resident of Sapelo Island, Reginald Hall. What will it take for his people to hold on to their legacy? Hall tells I SEE U he’s willing to die before anyone takes land away from him and his ancestors.

Full Transcript

Eddie Robinson: Only a few descendants of West African slaves remain on a coastal Georgia portion of land called Sapelo Island. In the early 18 hundreds, ancestors, the Gullah GeeChee community were brought to these barrier islands along the nation’s southeast coast to work on plantations. These slaves acquired land on the island, but now, decades later, that ownership is being threatened.

Many of the reside. Say they’ve been squeezed out due to deliberate tax hikes and gentrification of the area.

Reginald Hall: We used to be 13 solid communities of black family members on this island now reduced to one.

Eddie Robinson: I’m Eddie Robinson and stay tuned as I See U explores the African cultural heritage of Gullah-Geechee we’ll meet.

One of the descendants of the enslaved Reginal Hall, what will it take for his people to hold on to their legacy? Oh yeah. I feel you. We hear you. I see you.

You are listening to ISeeU I’m Eddie Robinson. As we explore a narrative of a group of individuals, we certainly don’t get to hear from, often they’re publicly known as the Gullah Geechee community, but here at I See U, we’ve been informed that they’re more accurately referred to as the Gullah Geechee community. . Well, first off, who are they?

Well, they’re descendants of West Africa who were enslaved on island plantations along the lower southeastern Atlantic coast around the 18 hundreds states where they ended up enslaved, consisted of North and South Carolina, Florida. In the coastal parts of Georgia, they were known as rice cultivators, where the warm, humid, moist climate helped them preserve many of their vibrant, rich African tradit.

This distinctive group of communities have stuck together throughout the centuries, and they’ve managed to maintain and preserve their African cultural heritage and lifestyle until now. Sapelo Island, a barrier island on the Georgia coastline is the site of hog hammock, the last known gola community.

Along Sapelo Island, you’ll find developers and real estate personnel. We’re all on a mission to gentrify and literally take over much of the island. Many of the Gullah Geechee family feel that they’re being squeezed out of the land, they say is rightfully theirs, and litigation is ongoing. Here to shed more light on the culture, offer up a bit more color on the richness and resources of that coastal region, as well as provide us with an update of what their plans are to preserve and protect the land of their ancestors.

We are so grateful to have with us Reginal Hall. He’s part of the Gullah Geechee community and he’s one of the dozens of residents looking to hold on to their land, their culture, and their live. Reginal Hall, thank you for being a guest on ISeeU.

Reginald Hall: Good afternoon, Eddie. Thank you for having us.

Eddie Robinson: Reginald Hall is also an advocate of the Gullah Geechee community for civil and human rights.

Let’s begin our chat by helping us understand more about the history of the Gullah Geechee people.

Reginald Hall: Were gola from the sections of Africa known as Angola. And Geechee which we come out of the Kei Tribe of the Mandinka out of Timbo Guinea. When you look again at the tribal understandings of where we come from, we still have the Geechee tribe in existence today in the Timbo Guinea.

Sierra Lione Leone areas, when you understand that through memory eradication is the reason that most of us cannot go to a cemetery as black folk here in the United States of America and trace our ancestry back. Five or six generation. The problem with not recognizing who we are, we can no longer recognize where we’re supposed to be heading.


Eddie Robinson: Explain to our listeners how this land, this coastal region, was actually acquired in the first place. You know, how, how did your ancestors and other descendents acquire this land.

Reginald Hall: Incredible story right there,

Eddie Robinson: and it impacts the nature of what’s going on. Now,

Reginald Hall: o on many levels, you’re absolutely correct, but let me show you how this started.

1865, we know emancipation came about. My family members between 1865 and 1871 purchased these lands with American currency. After having the insight of developing their own corporation through the Georgia Secretary of State, I’m talking about 1871 bruh, creating what was known as the Hillary and Company.

Three of my family member Elders Ancestors, developed this company, decided that they was going to purchase this land and pay down a $5,000 debt to the. because they then took 702 acres and put them between 20 different family units. Each one of those family units paid Hillary and Company. The three owners, the three men who started this, paid them a nominal fee for their land.

For five years, they gave that bank $5,000 and had the deeds to those lands in they. Now that’s five years after emancipation. So you have introduced me as Reginald Hall. My great-grandfather changed our name as our last name to from hog, H O G G. Because my family members took care of the hogs on the plantation.

My great-grandfather bought his first first piece of land here on sap Low. And he changed our name from H O G G to H A L L. But before doing that, he lent our name to the community of hog, h o g g Hummock, H U M M O C k Hog. H o g is, its represented in all writings about Sapelo, is spelled h o g. That’s an.

That’s how, not how my grandfather would describe himself as an animal, and hummock versus hammock. A hummock is a raised piece of forested land surrounded by marsh, a hammock, something swing in your backyard. But the sign in our community was paid for and put up by the new neighbor, not one of us. So they changed the name as the new neighbor to hog the animal hammock with hog Hummock.

But yes, we reside in Sapelo Island in Hog Hummock community. We have about a population of 70 residents in hog Hummock community. Of those residents, 39 of my family members are left on this island down from upwards of 2,500. Not 39 households, 39 black body. That’s all that remains. The rest of them are considered our new neighbors.

Our new neighbors are considered new neighbors as unfriendly neighbors. Hmm. , they have come in, they have built palatial estates raising the land value, and in 20 20, 22, everybody knows when you raise the land value, you immediately raise the taxes. But the problem with our new neighbors is they are in collaboration with state agencies and county agencies.

And even having the ability to build these palacio estates because the county code says as the first paragraph, the code is being developed as to not force the indigenous population off of the island due to land value increase. Now that’s what it says in the McIntosh County 16.1. Code section.

Eddie Robinson: It’s I See U. I’m Eddie Robinson, and we’re speaking with Reginal Hall. One of the last few go Akii descendants living along the southeastern coastal region of Georgia in an area known as Sapelo Island. . The land owned by Gola Kei consists of 702 acres of land, which is valued at 1.4 billion.

Reginald Hall: That’s the land that we are now going as land recovery efforts through demand letter or litigation that we’re going after now, but that.

None of us reside on that area known as Raccoon Bluff. None of my family members live in that area yet. We had lived there from 1801 up until 19 26, 27. So that land is outside of Hog Hummock. We used to be 13 solid communities of black family members on this island now reduced to one. Hmm. We owned with deeds in our hand, a land mass of upwards of 3000 acres now down to 192.

Eddie Robinson: Why is Sapelo Island so valuable? Reginal Hall. Tell us more about the resources and the richness of this coastal region.

Reginald Hall: It is the last intact Gola community on any island in the United States of America. That’s number one. We still are living and practicing our African ways as a community. Number two, our dirt is so full of the most beautiful black nitrate dirt you’ve ever seen in your life.

We can grow heads of broccoli that weigh 1215 pounds. I just told you I was out here in the sugar cane fields. I grow purple ribbon sugar cane sap Low Island is the only place in America known to truly nurture and stand Our stalks six to 10 feet tall, three to five inches in diameter with some of the Swedish shook cane you ever had in your life.

The land is so valuable right now. Because we still do not have a road that comes over to this island, the ferry ride, without the intrusion of what we know as a time schedule. The ferry ride is the most beautiful thing because you’re looking at this land mass from the mainland as you’re traveling across the Doughboy sound, and you’re seeing it as you get up on it and then you get here and we are un develop.

No pesticides have ever touched these lands. As a commercial gray, we have no car accidents. We have no stop signs. We have no street lights, we have no stop lights, nothing like that. We have dirt roads that encompass most of our land. Why is it so valuable? It’s the last island. Where the oppressor has not stolen at all away from us, the black folk on any of these barrier islands running from Martha Vineyard all the way down to Florida.

Hmm. Now when I tell you about Martha Vineyard being the exact same thing, blow Island is no boat, no road going to Martha’s venue. You gotta take fairies and the land value. On Martha’s Vineyard starts at 3 million an acre. Well, here on SAP Low Island, with the last 13 years of Babylon that I brought to the oppressor, it now has raised the value for the new neighbors of a million dollars in acre.

If you go up on the north end of the island, we’re at 2 million an acre. So with it being undeveloped, the oppressor sees that they have a blank canvas that they can make their new Hilton Head Islands out of. Or St. Simon Islands or Je o Islands that have already been taken from us. But we stopping the ball from rolling over this one.

Brother Ed.

Eddie Robinson: Coming up, we continue our chat with Reginal Hall, a Go Akii descendant and resident of Sapelo Island, who’s holding on to his ancestors’ land and area rich and resources and culture. We’ll learn more about the problems and challenges they’re facing as efforts relating to gentrification and modernization, threaten their survival where developers and other.

Look to strategically squeeze them off their family land. Who are these developers and what more can we find out about the very people, including state, local, and regional leaders and agencies who all have a vested interest in obtaining this last stretch of land from the Go Akii community. Community.

I’m Eddie Robinson. I see U. We’ll return in just a moment.

If you’re enjoying this program, please be sure to subscribe to our podcast I SEE U with Eddie Robinson. You can hear all the past episodes and be notified when new episodes are released. Also, please take a minute to give us a review or comment. We love getting feedback from our listeners.

(MUSIC) And he just wondered some my people came to time that, uh, the prettiest name that. And may be the prettiest island. It’s called the Sapelo Tombs County Farm, 34 Jack Bossley. Dead Down Cotton Road. Long Johns run. Where’s Gogo? The Betty’s gone down to the salo.

It’s icu. I’m Eddie Robinson and we’re so grateful to have with us Reginal Hall, who’s a descendant of the Go Akii Community Hall says The state of Georgia, along with others are trying to squeeze out what few descendants who remain on the island, and they’ve been doing this for decades.

Development policies along with confusing property law and land ownership rights issues have all been considered roadblocks for them. And we’re just hearing out Reginal Hall’s story and he’s here to speak his truth and explain to us what’s really going on along the coastal regions of Georgia. And we’re asking any of the officials associated with the State of Georgia.

If you’d like to be a future guest of I SEE U, we welcome you with open Arms to discuss and learn more as relates to your side of the narrative. In the meantime, we’re grateful for Mr. Hall for his time in guiding us through the current plight of the Go Akii community.

Reginald Hall: The government is directly involved with this island.

Through what is known as Department of Natural Resources and the Sapelo Island Heritage Authority created in legislation in 1983, the legislation said we are creating this agency as an arm of Georgia’s government to protect and nurture, preserve the lands for the Golo Keese people on Sapelo. Never once did they do that.

It is turned into nothing but a land bank that they are now as the state of Georgia per every sitting governor since 1983, has an opportunity to chair this authority. And the only thing that they have done with our lands is collected them and now begun. Trading lands. Leasing lands to the Caucasian developers,

and that land is approximately, let’s speak numbers here, 97% owned by the state of Georgia, and it’s managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the remainder of the island that’s under private ownership.

That ownership is currently being contested. Is that.

No. The ownership that we now have as less than 1% is not being contested. Oh, okay. That’s here. That’s here in the hog Hummock subdivision. The lands that are being contested are the 13 communities which run south to north throughout the island. Mm-hmm.

this island is the size of Manhattan. We’re 11 and a half miles. Four and a half miles wide encompassing 17,650 acres on Sapelo. Our strategy is to recover 12 communities and reestablish them with our people who were there in the beginning. But the strategy also is inside of creating this model that says to the other communities along this coast, here’s what we did.

Give us a call. Allow us to assist you in your process because remember, we not here to help nobody. The indigenous population of Queensland said, if you are here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if your freedoms are aligned with mine, then we’re gonna work together. I’m creating this model to say, I meaning the initiative, creating this model to.

Here. My people along the coast or here, my people on the inland where we’ve lost 14 million acres as Gullah, Geechee, people from North Carolina down to Florida. Here’s the model and call us. Cuz we are willing to come and align with your freedom. Got it. But if we cover the last most important part of the strategy mm-hmm.

it’s also to start protecting our burial grounds just here on this island. If my family member’s been here since 17 96, 18 0 1, how come I can’t go to the grave of my great-great grandparents? Cause the state mowed down the headstones and stole the land. But we’re hearing this as a prevalent cause of action throughout the United States of black cemeteries.

There again, Dr. Asa Hillier would. You don’t have the cemetery to take your old children to. That’s a form of memory eradication. How will they ever know?

Eddie Robinson: You know, one of the concerns related to Sapelo Island has to do with access. You know, and there are no roads that take you directly to the island. And I’m under the impression that that means visitors from what I read, must pre-register.

And a person or a group of people must participate in one of the tours offered up by the state in order to get there. Correct.

Reginald Hall: Let’s deal with that. One of my cousins runs a tourism business here on this island. But because of the steering process, you know, if a realtor takes you and shows you home and says, no, you really don’t want to, they’re trying to steer you out of that area.

So because you’re black, Well, the steering process over here is let’s steer all of the tours to the state. Let’s steer all of the tours to the University of Georgia, which they have a marine biology institute over here who have never since 1959 offered our children who one day open house for any educational purpose.

There is a movement in the United States known as bridging the gap between community and university. They’ve never attempted. Moreover, they’ve attempted to keep us off of the area that they leased from the state, which is our lands that the state stole. If we talk about that transportation system, after they steer the tours away from us, after they steer the population to the state agencies that are doing their tours, then.

in order to keep us even more economically seduced through tourism, they have created this ferry system that does not allow us to have proper engagement of transportation to get tourists back and forth. But moreover, on that transportation system, it says you cannot live as a black man or woman on this island and count on that state run ferry to get a job on the main.

Savannah’s 60 miles away. So if you got a nine to five, how you gonna drive an hour and a half at a five o’clock closing time of your business to make it back to that ferry and get back home? Well, Brunswick, Georgia, as our next metropolitan is no better in economics or travel time. So you can’t get no nine to five off this island and come back home.

What’s the worst part of that? The. as the ferry system operator does not run the ferry on any federal holiday. So that means our elders, our children, our middle aged, they can’t come together on this island unless they plan on number one, spending that night before the ferry opens up the following day.

Or we can’t get off this island to go have Christmas dinner with our family members and come back home. You gotta plan on getting a hotel room or spending the night. These are the. Low quality of life reference points that they placed in front of us to make sure that we have little to no survival ability.

Eddie Robinson: Now, as part of the initiative to keep and hold onto this coastal region, will there be plans to explore that ferry schedule becoming more frequent?

Reginald Hall: What has just happened? I created a senate bill resolution in 2012 called Senate Bill Resolution seven 20. I’m gonna answer your question directly saying There is an opportunity for us through legislation to create a study committee that should have House and Senate representation.

We did everything we could through public policy before litigation. We have a brother that came along passed on to us. I know from the ancestors by the name of Reed Colfax and his Georgia associate, Robert Jackson. As law firms have come along and in eight years have spent 13 million on us, no request of money returned and have literally stuck next to us on every battle that’s come up.

So when we started this litigation, the brother Reed Colfax, as I began making all this noise, brother Eddie, this county says, well, we better go ahead and tax him out. So in 2012, the county raised our taxes upwards of 3000%. Our lawyers immediately took this on no questions asked and won our tax case where we literally recovered three quarters of a million dollars as the largest tax settlement of any black family in the United States of America.

I make these points to. There are people out here who care. They’re not just in it for the money, because what I’m telling you now, were part of the problems, but over the last 13 years we’ve come up with the solutions, brother Eddie. But one of our concerns is a movement now called aging in place. Well, what the state and the county and the developer has done to us has caused our elders to have to leave.

why would they have to leave the island? No social activity, no healthcare, no educational activity. Then they didn’t even have the ability to get on and off the boat without being lifted in a wheelchair by hands of men or laid all the way back. Now we have a hydraulic lift for them to put the wheelchairs in, which make the elders feel.

Our docks have now been redone at the tune of 8.6 million on this side, and now they’re going into the new work on the mainland side at 4.19 million.

Eddie Robinson: You’re listening to I See U. I’m Eddie Robinson and we’re speaking with Reginal Hall. He’s one of the last descendants of enslaved Africans who live along the coastal regions of Georgia, known as the Gola Kei community.

They’ve owned land out there since the 18 hundreds, and many have been fighting for years to prevent their land from being taken away from them due to gentrification. And so, Inheritance laws where documentation would be required as proof of land ownership? Well, in many instances, land would be handed down through verbal agreements, so in essence, no written documentation would be available, thereby creating a loophole for investors to grab that.

Well, I See U is asking any agency official of the state of Georgia developers associated with areas that are a part of Sapelo Island, even family members of slave owners of the Go Akii from back in the day. If you’d like to be a future guest of ISeeU u, we welcome you with Open Arms to discuss and learn more.

As it relates to what’s really going on along the coastal lands of Georgia. In the meantime, we continue our conversation with one of the residents and critical stakeholders of the Contested Land Reginal Hall. Getting back to the conflict, what concerns me is what’s going on and what’s been happening on this island as it relates to the children that are on the island.

How do they gain access to their education?

Reginald Hall: Gotta take a deep breath on on that brother. Hey, cuz that’s the most upsetting thing to me of this whole process. Our children are forced to take this ferry across the water where they meet the school bus. But I told you that ferry last run from the mainland to the island is at five 30.

Our children cannot participate in the afterschool programs. They can’t go to the Friday night games or the volleyball games or become football players or basketball because those practices usually until you having to be there after hours will our children have to get back on that ferry unless you have somebody on the mainland that you can stay with, but then you have to leave your family at home.

Well, this has been a cause of action since my father came out of the sixth grade. In the 1930s. He had to leave the island to go stay on the mainland to continue his education through middle school and high school. So this is a family displacement process that eradicates more of our family unity. So that’s horrible that we can’t allow.

The five or six children left on the island to participate in what most normal school settings would be to at least be part of the high school grade school process of after school activities.

Eddie Robinson: There’s a sigh that you said I was gonna

Reginald Hall: take. Hey, I’ve heard it three times from you, but believe me, brother, when people talk to me, I have to give ’em the truth and I get it every day. Oh, Mr. Hall, I can’t believe this. In 2022,

Eddie Robinson: and that’s what I’m, well, you know what, it almost doesn’t surprise me because you mentioned this metropolitan community earlier you mentioned Brunswick, Brunswick, Georgia.

That’s where my aunt and her kids used to live. And of course, you know, if Brunswick sounds familiar to many of you that are listening, that’s also the area close to where 25 year old Ahmad Arbery, a black man who was shot and killed in February of 2020. During a racially motivated attack where three white men chased Arbery as he was jogging through a neighborhood in Glen County, no arrests were made until graphic video leaked online.

Nearly two months after the incident, those men were convicted of murder last fall in a Georgia State courthouse, and in February of this year, they were found guilty of federal hate crimes after a second trial in US District.

Reginald Hall: I am a standing something in that I hadn’t told you yet, but Ahau Aubrey’s father is my second cousin.

They come from SAP Island, just so that you know that. So we’re intrinsically involved.

Eddie Robinson: Interesting. Wow. So putting all of that in context, the nature of those incidents and how it all unfolded, you can’t just acknowledge the fact that three white men attacked a black man while jogging, but it took a leaked video.

Several trials, district court involvement, federal court involvement, extensive media coverage, all of that to get to where Aubrey found some form of justice. And in essence, you really have to put all of those components into perspective as it relates to understanding the context of what port communities are dealing with, the environment, the energies that are taking place out.

Along the coastal state of Georgia and you mentioned to me that it took, what, 13 years of litigation to get to where you are now. And there’s still points where I’m gonna call it, the powers that be are still squeezing individuals and residents off that island. And you mentioned this earlier, but I want you to be crystal clear, who are those powers that be and what’s going on with the roadblocks?

Reginald Hall: If you are looking at the players. Yes. These players are called multimillionaire dollar developers, most of them stemming out of Macon, Georgia. These players are inside of the federal. Courthouses. We got our first federal judge on our case. I got her recused because I found out as the federal judge on our case, she failed to mention that she and her brother own land on SAP law.

We got her immediately. Recused, had an opportunity to get us a new judge who put back in all of the stuff that the first judge illegally threw. Now that’s one player as developers, she and her brother are developers in terms of their L l C here on the island where they developed a house, you’re dealing with the governor of the state as the chairman of the SAP Island Heritage Authority.

You’re dealing with the Department of Natural Resource Commissioner Mark Williams as the overseer of d n. You’re dealing with Wildlife Resources Division, all of the heads of those agencies we’re dealing with E P D, which is known as our Environmental Protection Agency division, still under the governor.

Then one of the largest. LLCs down here that has built the illegal home, had a representative as their chief financial officer, known by the name of Sam a Nun Jr. Now he’s a 24 25 City Congressional Senator. For the state of Georgia that has his name on an illegally developed house as a chief financial officer, what I have now described Sapelo Island as is political influence peddling, let’s take it to the county.

We got the county commissioners, the county building zoning and ordinance department, and the county inspectors with the county. Who have not stopped the developers from violating their own policy that they wrote. So we have government official, we call that public corruption in collaborative scheme with the developers to run us off of this.

Under the United States Department of Justice, if they’ve done that for two or more years to deprive the Go Akii people on sap, they have now violated the Federal Act, known as Racketeering Influence Conspiracy Act, rico. Now this is real. The only reason we have not been able to bring the Ricoh. It’s due to the lack of funding for saying, here you go, Mr.

Lawyer. Here goes a quarter of a million dollars. We want you to prove this Ricoh case. I’ve already proved it. But I’m a layman.

Eddie Robinson: Coming up our final segment as we continue our chat with Reginal Hall, a descendant of the GOI community, who’s also an advocate for civil and human rights. Are there any GOI community members who’ve given up and said, we’re tired of fighting and they’ve abandoned their property all together?

And for those like Reginal Hall who are vowing to remain on the island, are there any measures underway to protect the sanctity of land owned by the GOI community? I’m Eddie Robinson. I see you. We’ll return right after this.

If you’re enjoying this program, please be sure to subscribe to our podcast I c you with Eddie Robinson. You can hear all the past episodes and be notified when new episodes are released. Also, please take a minute to give us a review or comment. We love getting feedback from our listeners.

You’re listening to I SEE U. I’m Eddie Robinson and we’re wrapping up our chat right now with Reginal Hall. He’s a resident of Sapelo Island, a state protected barrier island, located in McIntosh County, Georgia. He’s also a descendant of the goi. They came to this island as slaves back in the 18 hundreds and made it their home.

Many have remained on these barrier islands along the southeastern coast of the country for years, developing and preserving a rich culture of their own, filled with distinctive music, language arts crafts, an amazing food. Descendants have been fighting private investors, developers, and regional officials and agencies for decades hoping to hold onto their lives and livelihood and leave a long lasting legacy for generations to come.

Reginal Hall has been a guest on our show, and he’s been naming names of those who he says are the leading oppressors, and he’s sharing details about the Gullah GeeChee plight as well as their continued. For the land they call home. He, along with several others, including community leaders and attorneys, have been offering up their services free of charge for over 13 years.

I SEE U, as we conclude our discussion with Reginal Hall, are you seeing any conflict? with the Gullah GeeChee people themselves on the island. Whereas some might be tired of fighting, you know, just, just wanna sell, you know, look, you know, we, I’m, I’m, I’m tired of being tired. While others may look to continue the fight and build up the local economy, perhaps even persuade their children to stay and maintain a life there on the island.

Raise a family. Do you find yourself having to convince many to stay while others have basically made up their minds to. .

Reginald Hall: Whew. That’s a three prong right there. Let me start it with this divide and conquer right? Is part of the systemic plan of the oppressor. We know that that’s, so we’re working through our family issues on, uh, how would I say that?

A slow walk it down process. You know, we slow walk down. . If you look at the removal of the population, it’s not because they wanted to leave. It was because of force. No jobs, no economics. You control the transportation. You control the barge, which would mean import. Export is almost unlikely to happen because of the astronomical rate they charge on that.

$3,000 just to get your stuff. If you’re wanting to do this type of stuff, to get your stuff over, you gotta pay $3,000 on a round trip. The barge is also a private contract now in the last 13 years became private, where if the state pays the barge man to come over here and pick up the trash off the island, and there’s plenty of room left on the barge, he’s double dipping and charging us to put our vehicles on the.

Which is an illegal process, but nobody can hear that yet. You know, and those are, again, those are intrinsic, valued issues, but we can’t cover everything when we have to start at the top and then come down to that low hanging fruit. If you look at, let me finish the last part of your question. If you think of how we are being handled, and let’s be clear, we’re only being handle.

Because of the rapid ongoing gentrification process, most of our family members had to live through Jim Crow on this island. Most of our family members had to live through enslavement on this island. So when you get to a certain point, you said it tired of being here. Tired of going through this. Not, and I’m not saying it’s easier on the mainland, but it sure is.

As clustered as you know, a one cluster versus 20 clusters on the mainland, you only got one cluster here, so everything that’s coming at you comes to that one cluster. Then because our elders left the island, they didn’t come back with their children or their grandchildren. They don’t really understand the value of.

Ecosystem or the value of our unity for the storytelling or the value of what we truly have here, cuz they haven’t been able to come home and see it as I had the opportunity and a lot of our family members had the opportunity, but where would they billed if they come back, if all of our land has been stolen?

So we created Salt Sapelo, ancestral Land Trust. This Land Trust would avail us the ability to collect, recover the lands, collect them on an minimal tax burden, and say, okay, family member now as the land trust, we can lease you this land. You can build this house which will belong to you in perpetuity, the house, but you can never sell the land.

The land trust then convenes a board that would have a quorum that now talks about. The workforce development in terms of land accumulation or the cultural heritage tourism, that can also become the incubator for a training program for returning descendants, or what you might look at as our culinary arts.

Our ring shout, that’s our dance and music that we do, or our basket weaving. Fishing expertise, we still drag a hundred to 300 foot net out in the ocean and come in with a bounty for over a hundred people if you want to talk about that. So these are the quality of life improvement issues that we have to handle in terms of housing development and the cultural aesthetics of, uh, not removing the indigenous population to land value increase.

Eddie Robinson: It’s I SEE U. I’m Eddie Robinson, and we’re speaking with the descendant of the Gullah GeeChee community on Sapelo Island, reginal Hall. And it sounds like there are plans in place, you know, even for those who may have left the island already to return. Once many of these legal matters are settled, there are plans in place to accommodate them through this trust.

Reginald Hall: Yes, the Raccoon Hall Community Development Corpor. is what I formed as a, let’s just say, an agency to do the work, to bring the information and the initiative that says let’s create the economic, what you might call circle tourism Agricul. Aquaculture. There’s so many cultures. This is an open air museum as an island, and there’s so many cultures.

You know, you got the new dew nets. They have dew nets where we can collect all of the rainwater Now that can propel some of our solar power that the state has no interest in because it would be another part of our survival. We have these vehicles now that are coming on the island because of all of our new neighbors, so we getting a little.

Of the mainland intrusion of our ecosystem. Got it. Where I’ve had to explain to D N R, you got these buses over here that’s emitting these smog and smoke that, and so as soon as I bring it to their attention, they’ll either get it fixed or take it off the island. But why should we have to do that? Why?

Because we’ve now become the Gatekeepers Keepers as the Raccoon Hall Community Development Corporation, and our sister nonprofit as help org. Who is Pamela Flores developed now West Sided Landed land trust called Walt Salo Island. Ancestral land trust is called Saul. Well, these are the ways that we’re finding to keep the aging residents in place, the in place residents in place.

To become more of a bank, a land bank, and an economic opportunity to say, I know I can build this house for this much money, and here’s your land lease for that land. We’re not talking about anything crazy enough to sustain the land trust operations. That’s it. There you go. And also the small business incubator, because we want to make sure that the false financial practices don’t happen to.

You know, most black communities, if you hand a black man that doesn’t know how to handle a hundred dollars a billion dollars, he’s going to have some false financial practices in there. But if you hand a trained black man under financial understandings of how to operate 5 0 1 for profits that are advocate work, then we don’t have that issue and can continue to receive.

Funding because nobody can say the money was mishandled or misappropriated.

Eddie Robinson: Hmm. What are the next steps that are being taken right now as we speak to preserve this rich portion of history?

Reginald Hall: We’re heading into trial against McIntosh County. That’s our next step. McIntosh County over a 50 year period has not represented our taxes properly.

On Sapelo Island, we pay a trash tax that the same people pay on the mainland, but we don’t have a Herby Kirby or pickup. We gotta take our own trash to the dump in the back of your car, truck or whatever you got. , we’re going over to this trial to make sure that some of these as litigation, uh, reference points are handled so that again, the population throughout the southeast coast can look at these reference points in these litigative efforts and say, Hey, I can do that.

Or call us. Raccoon Hall Community Development Corporation has a open line for all listeners to call us in any state. And our reference point is public policy before litigation, but now that we’ve been this for 13 years, we have a number of litigators who are on our side at our beck and call and said, you build the case.

Raccoon Hall Community Development Corporation will take it on. And I know how to build a case.

Eddie Robinson: Mr. Hall, as you’ve lived your life being ever so grateful to your ancestors, to pass down the most treasured gift of them all, in my mind, land real estate, prosperity, and property, so to speak, going through this fight to keep your own land and what you’ve had to endure for a, a long time.

What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned about yourself thus far?

Reginald Hall: brother Eddie. That’s a loaded question. , I’ve changed my life, brother. When my elders and my father called me in 2007 to come do this, it was at 9:16 PM August 17th. I got on a plane August 18th, 2007. I haven’t stopped from where my home base is, uh, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where my family. When I look at the elders before me, the Dr.

Kings, the Malcolm Xs, all of the brothers who were willing to give their life, to answer your question directly, I’m willing to die for this. So that changed me. Like you would’ve never imagined I no longer spend money on non imperative things. I no longer. , man, I gotta tell you, I’m all the way down to driving my 1994 when at one point I, you know, would buy anything and I literally have found peace as a reference point for my soul.

And now there’s no retirement date for me. You know that your brother, Dick Gregory said, you know, the most dangerous thing in the universe is to put on the glasses. He said two things about that you can’t take them. And you can’t make nobody else wear ’em. And I’m listening to these brothers, the brother Fuller, the brothers is talking to us from yesterday year and I’m following their model.

You give up your life. As Uncle Malcolm said, it’s not a revolution unless you are willing to die and or kill. It’s. An important part to me for anybody to lose their life, but the things that they’ve done to me in the last 13 years took my rear differential cap off my trucks, going down the highway. I lock up, broke into my home, stole my handgun, trying to put a body on me, didn’t know I had it registered, tried to charge me with two felony charges, arson charges.

None of it stuck because the day that I brought nine federal agencies to this. All charges dropped. You know, anything they can do. Put snakes in my boat. Now if you ever been a waterman, you know, don’t no snake crawl up, no side of no boat. And we don’t park our boat under no trees cuz we got more sense than that, right?

So these are the type of things that they attempt to do to stop the troop. But if I were be specific, how did this truly impact my. I believe more wholeheartedly in the ancestors being around me more than ever, more than ever, because I know the only reason I’m alive down here in the low country of Georgia, in the worst county you could possibly think of being in as a black man.

To tell the truth against the white man, I should be dead. But I know the ancestor’s not going to let that happen, and I’ve watched him not let it happen or else I’d be under the jail right now, only because. That’s what they do. You know, from the 18 hundreds, how many of our legislators were put in prisons and all of that because they were becoming more powerful inside of legislation because they didn’t, the white man didn’t understand how this was truly rated to impact them on a federal level.

So all the way back from the 18 hundreds, they’ve been killing the truth tellers and I’m prepared to die. Sir,

Eddie Robinson: it’s Reginal Hall, a descendant resident and critical stakeholder of Sapelo Island located, uh, 60 miles south of Savannah, Georgia. And he’s also an advocate of the Gullah GeeChee community for civil and human rights, and one of dozens of residents looking to hold on to their land, their.

And their livelihood. Reginal Hall, thank you for being a guest on I SEE U

Reginald Hall: Thank you brother Eddie Robinson. I appreciate you.

Eddie Robinson: Our team includes technical director, Todd Holin, producer Laura Burks, editors Mark De Claudio, and JohnMitchell Goode. Sound designer, Dave McDermot, I SEE U as a production of Houston Public Media. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and for more updates and episodes, visit our website, I S E E U show.org. I’m your host and executive producer, Eddie Robinson.

Thanks so much for listening, and remember, I feel you. We hear you.

Reginald Hall: I see U.

Eddie Robinson: Until next time.


This article is part of the I SEE U with Eddie Robinson podcast

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Eddie Robinson

Eddie Robinson

Executive Producer & Host, I SEE U

A native of Mississippi, Eddie started his radio career as a 10th grader, working as a music jock for a 100,000-Watt (Pop) FM station and a Country AM station simultaneously. While Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus had nominated him for the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991, Eddie had an extreme passion...

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