African American News and Genealogy

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Family asserts right to profit from their land

Efforts to honor the historic Mitchelville site should focus on land that is already publicly owned to allow other residents in the area to develop property, said a family who owns much of the land. The White family, which owns about 20 acres in the vicinity of Mitchelville, the nation's first town for freed slaves, is looking to develop some of the land into low-density, single-family units, said Andre White, who is coordinating the development. Some preservationists and representatives of the native island community are starting to push for greater involvement in the protection of the Mitchelville site, which is composed of disparate parcels of land along Beach City Road near Port Royal Sound. Some of the properties have houses or trailers, while others are still undeveloped. The advocates fear that, without quick involvement of the town or other interest, the history of the area could be lost to development. "Our land is not in public trust. It's privately owned land," said Perry White, Andre's grandfather, who said his father began buying the land in 1943. "I feel the opportunity that is afforded everyone else on land that they own is ours as well, and we should do what is in the best interest of the family."


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