Reported by Kacie Whaley
A vacant Connecticut town is up for auction, and two young black hopefuls are attempting to raise funds to purchase the land and turn it into a 21st Century Black Wall Street.
Following the rise in publicized police brutality, more African Americans are viewing economic freedom as a necessity within black communities. In September, many supporters of black-owned businesses encouraged others via social media to invest in local or online companies with black owners. The call-to-action resulted in several black businesses reporting a surge in sales and even received media attention. Now, an entire town devoted to black economic empowerment may be in the works.
A businesswoman named Oya Tef-Shu has teamed up with a young man named Marcus to create a Gofundme account to purchase what they hope will become ‘New Black Wall Street.’ The title is in reference to the affluent Tulsa, Oklahoma town in the early 1900’s that held over 600 successful black-owned businesses and was essentially burned to the ground.
The two optimists wrote on their donation page that the outcome of their venture will empower black people by “creat[ing] a front for independent black owned businesses to establish [themselves].” The page also states that this new community will “create housing for the black community, create schooling…and practice agriculture.”
The fundraiser is dedicated to purchasing a 62 acre town called The Village of Johnsonville in Moodus, Connecticut. The land, which was built in 1842, has been used for several purposes in the past. It was first known to be a mill town for the twine industry in the 1800s, according to Business Insider. Around the 1960s, it was converted into a theme park, and some decades afterward, it was used as a filming set to shoot the movie Freedom and a Billy Joel music video. The town has been unoccupied ever since.
The property is being auctioned for $800,000 starting on October 28th, 2014. The bidding will end two days later on the 30th. Oya and Marcus are setting their funding goal at $1.5 million. In one day, they have raised $1,215 with the help of 57 donors.
“Yes, it’s going to take money,” said Oya on a Facebok video. “Yes, it’s going to take action. We’re gonna have to do something. We can’t sit on Facebook all day talking about what the problem is. We have solutions. This is just one solution.”