(Sapelo Island, GA) On July 20, 2023 the Georgia Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations spearheaded an unprecedented effort to reclaim the history of Islam in Georgia and the U.S. and held the first historic meeting between legislators and the Gullah Geechee residents of Sapelo Island – descendants of the enslaved first Muslims in Georgia – to take notice of public corruption and economic injustice that is forcing the Gullah people off their ancestral lands.
CAIR-Georgia staff took Senators Donzella James, Nikki Merritt, and Sheikh Rahman and Representatives Viola Davis, Shelly Hutchinson, Ruwa Romman, Sandra Scott, and Kim Schofield, as well as staff from the offices of U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff and U.S. Representative Buddy Carter to Sapelo Island to meet with the Gullah Geechee community.
SEE: CAIR-GA’s Action Alert Draws Attention to Problems Faced by Bilali Muhammad’s Descendants on Sapelo Island
The group took a tour of the island with members of the historic Hogg Hummock community, home of one of the last intact Gullah Geechee communities in the country. They heard first-hand about the struggles the community faces to continue to live on the island, which has been their home for centuries. Locals shared issues of public corruption and economic injustice that threaten the community’s survival. Megan Gordon, CAIR-Georgia Policy Manager, presented potential policy solutions.
Community members shared the challenges they face such as: lack of fire prevention and management; unaffordable property taxes; a limited ferry schedule that makes it difficult to have regular jobs or participate in school activities on the mainland; and difficulty working with the local government to solve issues of importance to the community.
SEE ALSO: Enslaved Muslims in the South
At the end of the tour, state Senator Nikki Merritt said,
“We’re seeing some pretty egregious economic inequality, environmental inequality. The state says they own the land. However, they’re not taking care of the people.”
SEE OUR VIDEO ON SAPELO ISLAND: