Since 2015, PAFEN has helped to prevent the loss of Black-owned property with an assessed value of more than $6-million, according to tax records in Beaufort, Colleton, Georgetown, and Horry counties in South Carolina!
But that's just a fraction of the technical, educational, and financial resources needed to sustain the ownership of property owned by the descendants of freed West Africans, who were once enslaved on former sea island and coastal plantations in the federally-recognized Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. The GGCHC stretches from Jacksonville, North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida.
GULLAH GEECHEE LAND DEFENSE FUNDS NEEDED
As I write this emergency appeal, hundreds of Gullah Geechee families in Beaufort County, South Carolina (and elsewhere) are stressed out about whether they'll be able to come up with the money they need to pay their delinquent taxes without either jobs or adequate resources, due to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.
Neon green signs posted on their doors, gates, fences, and trees by the Beaufort County Treasurer proclaim for all to see that their beloved homes and land have been "SEIZED" and tagged to be auctioned at the upcoming 2020 Beaufort County Delinquent Tax Sale. They have until 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2nd to pay their late taxes in full to avoid it going to the tax sale, which will be held on Monday, Oct. 5th, at 10 a.m.
At almost the same time, Gullah Geechee families whose property was auctioned to the highest bidder at the 2019 Beaufort County Delinquent Tax Sale--will run out of time to redeem it at 5 p.m., on Wednesday, Oct. 7th!
It seems almost heartless that Beaufort County officials have figured out how to accommodate hundreds of deep pocket investors, and developers for a tax sale during the COVID-19 pandemic--but local taxpayers aren't allowed to enter the Beaufort County Government Center to either pay their taxes, or redeem their property ahead of the rapidly approaching deadlines. All tax payments and redemptions must be handled via mail, online, or by phone. Last minute, in person saves will be impossible this year.
Because Gullah Geechee culture is land-based, many land-rich, but cash-poor families are at-risk of not just losing their homes. They're also facing losing their unique blended West African/Southern culture and its cuisine, language, art, music, and spirituality that their enslaved ancestors kept alive for centuries, and passed down along with the now highly-coveted land that they acquired during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras.
Without an estimated $2-million in much-needed funds to save their homes and land, 2020 could go down as the game-changing year that cash-strapped Gullah Geechee families lose an unprecedented amount of land that can never be replaced. Some may become homeless. And others could be permanently displaced from the only homes they've ever known.
BUT your immediate tax deductible charitable contribution can prevent that from happening, if we receive it by no later than Wednesday, Sept. 30th.
AN APPEAL FOR JUSTICE
LONG STORY SHORT: Due to potential catastrophic land loss by Gullah Geechees and other Palmetto State property owners in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pan-African Family Empowerment & Land Preservation Network is taking the lead in urging S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster and the S.C. General Assembly to take immediate steps to delay all scheduled county Delinquent Tax Sales until April 2021. We're also asking that redemption periods for properties auctioned in 2019 also be extended until April 2021.
Please contact your state legislative representatives to ask that they grant our request for leniency.
Donations of all sizes to our emergency appeal on behalf of Gullah Geechee property owners will be much appreciated, and used wisely.
Below you can learn about how we've helped other Gullah Geechee families in the past, and make a donation to help a family in need.
Thanks in advance for your support of this worthy cause,
Theresa White, Founder & CEO
The Pan-African Family Empowerment & Land Preservation Network, Inc.