This part of the state was taken from the Lower Creek Indians in 1814 in the treaty of Fort Jackson and the plan at that time was to have lots of white landowners who would have 250 acres each. Fast-forward to today and you find lots of plantations still in the area. Some of them with as much as -- I know Ichauway Plantation is 28,000 acres. But you would be surprised as some of the names of people owning plantations here in this area. And yet you still have a large number of African-Americans who continue through some great odds to own land in this area. And are still trying to farm some of it.
My husband, Charles Sherrod, was one of the founding members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He chose Southwest Georgia as the place he would do his work so he came here in 1961 and started the Albany Movement, the Terrell County Movement, the Baker County Movement, Sumpter, and on and on for this area. So he helped, through his work with SNCC to start the Southwest Georgia -- they referred to the work as the Southwest Georgia Project. In 1966 when Stokely, Stokely Carmichael, became the director of SNCC, Stokely felt that all whites needed to go and work in their own communities. So and since he was saying whites needed to leave SNCC, we did not agree with that here in Southwest Georgia. So my husband, who had gotten his Master’s at that point at Union Theological Seminary in New York, was still leading the effort here and had recruited a large number of students from Union. We probably had 20 to 25 white people working with us during that time when Stokely was saying whites needed to leave. So we separated from SNCC at that point and later incorporated the Southwest Georgia Project. Instead of just the Southwest Georgia Project, it became known as the Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education, Inc.
We felt in order to bring about change we needed the help of whites, whether they were from this area or not. And most of them were not; in fact, all of them were not. But we felt, too, that we needed each other in order to bring about the change that needed to happen here, and to mirror and set the example for other areas.