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The Only Blacks in the County

When my husband and I moved to Atlanta, we decided to rent to get to know the area before buying. Every weekend we went house shopping. I just loved going around and seeing what's for sale.

One Saturday morning, while searching the add section of the newspaper, I spotted a modern-day log home. That caught my interest. Having traveled extensively and lived in many places around the world, I was more adventuresome then my husband. 

I convinced TP to drive us up to Forsyth county to check out the home against his better judgment. The owner agreed to meet us at the home. 

We lived in Dekalb County, a suburb of Atlanta, and it took us over an hour's drive to get there. When we arrived, the owner explained that he was the realtor and lived next door. 

After short introductions, we also learned that the owner was a pilot for Delta. I thought that it was odd that he lived so far away from his work. Unlike today, people didn't usually commute that far. 

It was a lovely home with all the modern conveniences. After the tour, the realtor invited us to his house. We sat at his kitchen table as he offered us something to drink.

He asked about our occupations. TP explained he was in the military, and I worked at CNN. We had several more questions about the home when the conversation turned. 

"I think you should know that if you were to buy this home, you would be the only blacks in Forsyth county," He said in a matter of fact tone.

"You've got to be kidding me," I replied. But the owner's expression showed me he wasn't.

I couldn't believe my ears because it was 1982. That was a foreign notion to me since my world had been diverse growing up in the military. But not for TP, this was his reality growing up.

"Have you seen any KKK walking around," I asked jokingly. 

TP kicked me under the table. I could see that he was ready to get out of there.

But I wasn't finished yet.

"I appreciate you telling us this because I don't want to live in a community that is not welcoming.  I want my children to live in a safe community." I didn’t want to live around ignorant folk who weren’t open-minded.  

The following Monday, I went to work. I assisted the Vice-President of the newsroom on the International Desk. I told a coworker about the log home we toured. She was used to hearing me share about the different houses I previewed. 

"Where was it located?" she asked.

"Forsyth county." 

"I can't believe that you drove there!" she exclaimed, looking at me wide-eyed. "We don't even go there."

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"I'm Jewish, and we stay away from that place. It's dangerous. I've heard stories about black people that have gone there and not returned."

Now I was shocked. In my ignorance, I didn't believe places like that still existed. TP got irritated with me at times when I downplayed racism. Understandably so.

Five years later, we were living in Hawaii. I happened to watch the news and saw a black family who had bought a home in Forsyth country. 

The KKK had burned a cross in their yard in hopes of running them out of town. Over 12,000 civil rights marchers descended on Cummings, a small town to protest the county's racist legacy. 

Recently, after a google search I learned why there were no blacks in that county. In the early 1900’s a white woman accused three black men of attacking her. That gave rise to angry white mobs that drove Blacks from the area.

Racism is real, and it still happens today.

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