Volume 3, Number 16 October 10, 2000
Terror in Terrell County
by Dr. Ridgely A. Mu’min Muhammad
White farmers are harvesting cotton and peanuts, but hunting season always seems to be open on Black men in Terrell County Georgia.
Terrell County Georgia has been given the name "Terrible Terrell" by Black people who live here and by Black people who may just drive through. This was the county that although it had a 70% Black population in the early 1960’s had only 5 people registered to vote. SNCC came to "Terrible Terrell" county to start voter registration drives. A picture of Carolyn Daniels next to bullet holes in her home in Terrell County is placed in the Civil Rights Museum in Albany, Ga, eighteen miles down the road, reminds us of the price that Black people had to pay to have the right to vote in this area.
W.E.B. Dubois even mentions this part of Southwest Georgia in his book "Souls of Black Folk" where he points out that this was ground zero for slavery in America. There were more slaves per square mile in Dougherty and Terrell counties than any place in America during the heyday of slavery.
Interestingly, in the late 1960’s the Honorable Elijah Muhammad bought 4500 hundred acres of land in "Terrible Terrell" county. When the Nation of Islam folded in the 1970’s, that farm was sold off. However, Minister Farrakhan resurrected the Nation of Islam and through the implementation of the "Three Year Economic Program" was able to redeem 1600 acres of that same farm at the end of 1994, now christened "Muhammad Farms".
I was asked in 1995 to be the farm manager for Muhammad Farms in a "strange" land unlike anything I had known before in North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Alabama and Michigan - a few of the states that I have had the privilege to live, work and go to school in. A farm which is trying to grow food without high levels of chemicals and without an arsenal of expensive equipment must rely heavily on hand labor. Therefore, we hired a lot of men and women from the local neighborhoods in and arround Terrell County.
Almost every Black man over the age of 16 that I have met or hired in this county has been in jail at least once and most are on probation. There are frequent license and insurance checks on isolated country roads where only deer frequent. All work on county properties, roads, buildings, etc. seems to be done with prison labor. New prisons have been built in Terrell county and the other surrounding counties to handle this overflow of shackled humanity.
I also noticed that a lot of the big farms around here are called "Plantations". I also learned that these "Plantations" have a certain level of autonomy and are virtually self-sufficient. When you step on their property, you must abide by "their rules". Many Black men and their families live and work on these "Plantations" in "Plantation" owned housing. If they lose their jobs, they must leave the "Plantation".
Now with this background information let me tell you the story of a young Black man who lives not too far from Muhammad Farms. Nelson Bogans approached me with this story: It seems that on September 18, 2000, a local white farmer pulled him and another Black man over whle driving on a county road in Terrell County. The white man pulled a gun on them, and accused them of stealing his hay. There were no bales of hay on the truck, but this white man threatened to shoot them if they did not take them to the stolen hay or tell him who stole the hay. According to Mr. Bogans, he made him get out of the truck that he was in and ride with him. Mr. Bogans took him to another Black man’s house just to get out of the truck and have witnesses to see the said gun, and tell them to call the police.
When the police arrive, Mr. Bogans told the deputy sheriff that this white man pulled a gun on him. Mr. Bogans tried to take out a warrant on this big white farmer in "Terrible Terrell" county. Although Mr. Bogans has a statement from eyewitness of the gun incident, 22 days have passed, it is October 10, 2000 and the Magistrate of "Terrible Terrell" county has not issued a warrant for the alleged assailants arrest.
I saw the police report and indeed it does say that Mr. Bogans complained about this well known white farmer of Terrell County Georgia pulling a gun on him. We pray that our brother Nelson Bogans stays safe and receives a measure of justice.
The "signs" still read; "Welcome to the wilderness of North America"; "Welcome to the ‘Dirty South’, and "Welcome to ‘Terrible Terrell’ county. Hell still lurks in these woods for the Black man. Our only defense is Allah (God) and our unity.
You are all invited to join Minister Louis Farrakhan on the Washington Mall on October 16, 2000 for the Million Family March and let’s flex a "Third Political Force". Review the section on "Jutice Issues" in the "National Agenda" on http://www.millionfamilymarch.com .
For further information contact the Terrell County Branch of the NAACP at (912)995-5961.