Monday, September 20, 2010

Displaced Community Tries to Reclaim Land

"This is the place where I wish I had grown up cause this is my heritage," said Wilson Moran, as he walked through the national wildlife refuge that was once his parents' neighborhood. Moran wants the federal government to give back land it seized from his parents just before he was born in 1942. They were part of Harris Neck, a small community founded by former slaves, making their livings by harvesting shellfish from Georgia's coastal wetlands. "This was their independence," Moran said. "This was their freedom. This was their life." A cracked runway serves as a reminder of the World War II army airfield that forced residents off their land. While government seizures for the war effort were common around the country, Harris Neck's former citizens believe their community was targeted because of race. "They wouldn't treat their own like that, so what else would it be?" said Rev. Robert Thorpe, who remembers being evicted from Harris Neck as a young boy. "They didn't treat us like human beings." Rev. Thorpe and others from this community are asking Congress to return the land. But Harris Neck is currently a 2,800 acre national wildlife refuge. And its managers say even moderate residential development would disrupt the fragile ecosystem they're trying to maintain...more

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