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The Stricklands

A man and two women sit on a porch, looking out
Charles Wiley and Leola Strickland, Strickland family descendants

The Strickland family’s ancestors were expelled from Forsyth County, Georgia in 1912. Before that, Leola Strickland’s ancestors had owned a 37-acre homestead there. In 2008, the property, which includes a family burial ground, is owned by white residents.

Although newspaper articles as recent as 1987 claimed that all of Forsyth County's black residents were able to sell their land before leaving, Leola and her family had always believed that the Stricklands had sold their land under duress. When the family searched for more information, they found records of more recent sales of their property, but nothing documenting the original sale, from a Strickland to someone else. Further research proved that most of the land owned by blacks before 1912 had no record of a sale from its black owner to the subsequent white one. The land was taken by adverse possession, a means of acquiring title to land without purchasing it. Although adverse possession is legal, it becomes morally questionable given the circumstances. African American descendants of former Forsyth County landowners wondered if the current white owners owed them the land, or at least reparations.

Update

A man and a woman hold and read pieces of paper in a room full of files
Phyllis Minley and Charles Wiley,
Strickland family descendants

In December 2007, Strickland family descendant Phyllis Minley updated Independent Lens on her family's goals surrounding the issues presented in BANISHED.

My goal after the filming of BANISHED was to have both cemeteries in Forsyth County placed on the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society sites. But sometimes it can become too much working with family members and yet still doing all the work yourself. The main cemetery where my great-great-grandparents are buried is of great concern because one really would not know the cemetery is there unless they were told. I went back there before the filming of BANISHED with Charles Brown, Jr. and it is slowly eroding from the weather.

Read an update from Charles Brown, Jr. >>

Learn about Forsyth County, Georgia and adverse possession >>


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