In October 1912, the murder of a young white woman named Mae Crow, and the rape of another, incited violence across the northern Georgia county of Forsyth.
With torches and nooses in hand, vigilantes lynched innocent Black men - first Rob Edwards, next teenagers Oscar Daniel and Ernest Knox - before hunting for others.
Every single one of Forsyth’s 1,098 Black residents was driven out of town that night.
Several other towns, including Pierce City, Missouri, and Harrison, Arkansas, had done the same less than a decade earlier, following a trend of Black “expulsions” that left prime land vacant and families sufficiently terrified to ever return for generations to come.
As the late 1980s rolled around, the all-white population had yet to come to their senses.
In fact, when more than 12,000 outside demonstrators hosted a civil rights rally in 1987, another 15,000 Ku Klux Klan members and sympathizers hurled rocks, racial slurs, and threatened violence so intense it warranted National Guard protection.
Some believe that because of Forsyth’s proximity to more progressive cities (like Atlanta, for example), it surely ought to be a more welcoming place for all by now.
But mere tolerance of our existence won’t do. If retributions, including the return of properties conveniently stolen during expulsions, to descendants isn’t on the table, what good would returning do?