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Do We Really Own Our Homes? Georgia Gullah Residents Face 500% Property Tax or Foreclosure

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Marquetta L. Goodwine, AKA Queen Quet, a leade...

Marquetta L. Goodwine, AKA Queen Quet, a leader of the Gullah/Geechee people of the SE United States, speaking at Washington Foreign Press Center Briefing on “The Gullah/Geechee Nationa: An Overview on the Preservation of the Culture and Identity.” Cropped version of photo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sapelo Island, Georgia (CNN) — 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.

“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.

“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” it, he told CNN.

McIntosh County‘s decision to reappraise homes on the island sparked the problem.

County Attorney Adam Poppell told CNN that the Gullah-Geechee culture is invaluable, but the properties had been historically undervalued due to errors in previous property appraisals.

“We have to follow the law, and assess at fair market value,” he told CNN.


Written by voiceoftruthusa

October 28, 2013 at 7:20 am

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