‘One act of love’
Before moving forward, the church leaders, supported by the Forsyth County Ministerial Association, began having conversations with African American community members and friends to ask their thoughts on the scholarship and intent behind it.
“We had so many friends in the African American community who said [they support] it because it is connected directly to something that happened,” Snead said. “And there was loss that occurred to a number of these families, some of them landowners, so there was a generational loss there. But there was also loss in terms of being disrupted from where they lived, where they worked.”
They say they hope the scholarship money, all of which is raised through community donations, will help those who may have suffered from the events of the past.
After talking with community members, Snead and the other organizers emphasized that the scholarship is not meant as reparations or to make up for what happened in 1912.
“It’s just this one act of love from followers of Jesus who want to invite the whole community to be part of hopefully being a blessing to some people,” Snead said.
“That’s why we are trying to say up front, we know this is not enough,” he continued. “This is not justice or reparations, but it’s also really not something that’s attached to another agenda. It’s simply what it is, and we feel like it’s better to do something than nothing.”
Not only do they hope to make a positive impact on these descendants directly, they hope the scholarship can begin a conversation about the events of 1912 and how much Forsyth County has changed.
Snead said they have gotten questions from community members about why they want to bring up this difficult conversation.
“Dealing with truth sets everybody free,” Snead said. “We just set it out there that this happened. It’s not our responsibility, but it did happen.”
He said that, by having these conversations, he hopes it also helps to address the current stigma that others living outside of the county have of Forsyth being one of the most racist counties in Georgia.
Snead pointed out that, in recent years, Forsyth has grown exponentially as a county, drawing in a diverse population of people with different backgrounds, cultures and religions.
By having these conversations and addressing the past, they hope others outside of the county can see how Forsyth has changed and grown.