Fulton County task force begins research to make reparations reality for some Black families

A push to make reparations a reality for some descendants of enslaved people in Fulton County has taken a big step forward.

A task force commissioned to study the impact on Black families has entered the research phase ahead of presenting their findings and recommendations to Fulton County leaders.

Before the charming exterior of a bustling Buckhead community, you'll find a grave reminder of what it cost to build one of Atlanta's most affluent areas.

"It’s the land that was my grandparents, and then it was taken from them," Bagley Park resident Elon Butts-Osby said. "This is where most of the residents of Bagley Park were buried."

For Butts-Osby, it wasn’t the first time her family had their livelihood taken from them in the decades that followed freedom from enslavement.

"Forced out of Forsyth County during the racial cleansing, somewhere between 60 and 84 acres were stolen from my grandfather," she said.

Elon Butts-Osby

That painful memory for her family is one of three case studies Fulton County’s reparations task force is using to justify grounds for compensation to the county’s Black residents.

"We believe that we are creating the blueprint to make a very strong argument for reparations," said Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, the chair of the Fulton County Reparations Task Force.

They hope their recommendations will move county leaders to take action.

Sims-Alvarado says in the two years since the task force was commissioned, they’ve uncovered a mountain of evidence showing Fulton County benefited from slavery and the disenfranchisement of its Black residents during Jim Crow.

"What we found was that Fulton County was complicit in declaring eminent domain on its residents, particularly within the Buckhead area," Sims-Alvarado said. "Some individuals moved to - if they were fortunate - they were able to buy another home in Dixie Hill, but some individuals wind up becoming residents in housing projects."

Butts-Osby says her grandfather was fortunate enough to purchase land and resettle the family in northwest Atlanta, but the property value there doesn’t begin to measure up to that of Bagley Park and what it’s worth today.

"The real value was shocking compared to what my grandfather paid for the six lots that he purchased," Butts-Osby said.

She says she joined the reparations task force to be a voice for her family and so many others whose spirits are still longing for what they lost.

"People need to pay … the city and the county ... they need to pay," she said.

Sims-Alvarado says what that "repayment" may look like for the broader population of Black residents in the county is still unclear.

She tells FOX 5 this is just the beginning.