In case you’re not familiar with the Bible story, Esau was the eldest son of Isaac. As such he was entitled to an inheritance, a birthright. Well, it didn’t matter too much to old Esau because he traded his blessing for a bowl of mush. That’s right. He traded it for food that did not sustain his nourishment. Instead, younger brother Jacob received the blessing, albeit through trickery.
Let us consider Sapelo Island on the coast of Georgia. Today, there’s a remnant of descendants from the enslaved inhabitants of days gone by. They cherish their land which is wonderfully lush, filled with beautiful flora and fauna.
Earlier this year, my husband and I discovered the captivating Sapelo Island on an anniversary trip. While staying in Darien, we took the ferry ride to Sapelo on a sunny yet cool Saturday. Our tour guide was an at once gracious yet feisty, Fran Drayton. Ms. Fran showed us around the island no one else could, I imagine. She, a descendant of the enslaved there, was a link to so much history.
Ms. Fran drove us around in her van, stopping to see such sites as Behavior Cemetery, Alligator Pond, Hog Hammock, the US Post Office, and SICARS (Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society.)
While touring, Ms. Fran talked about how so many of the younger generation had sold their property and left to go to the mainland for jobs and such. By selling the property, the land was coming into the hands of those who wished to turn Sapelo into a Hilton Head-type of area where only the rich abide and the descendants outwitted, left with a bowl of mush.
You see, according to Ms. Fran, RJ Reynold’s had given each of the families on Sapelo a deed to their land in Hog Hammock. Originally, they lived in the northern section of the island, but were forced to move. When RJ Reynolds died, his widow sold the entire island to the state of Georgia. There was one problem. The people of the island knew that they owned land, as such they had wealth. The families produced the deeds and saved their inheritance. The balance was sold to the state.
The selling of property by descendants is a problem which has been counteracted by the creation of a land trust. Property owners are given $50,000 to not sell their land. That’s all they have to do is not sell their land, their blessing, their inheritance, and they get this trust. If, however, at some point the property owners do wish to sell, they are required to pay back the full amount of the trust.
Talk about getting your mush and eating it too, who in their right mind would want to sell their land?
We’re rooting for you, Sapelo. We root for the roots of you.
Hold on to your blessing!
Jones, My Opinion