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April 5, 2024 17 mins

Vanessa Tyler talks with Josephine Wright about her home in Hilton Head, SC and her fight to keep the family property and legacy intact.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Now on Blackland.

Speaker 2 (00:02):
It's just a part of us that is in our heritage.
The heritage belongs to this family, and this poperdy belonged
to this family, and we are determined to keep this
energy the family.

Speaker 1 (00:23):
The never ending fight to keep black Land, putting many
families on the front lines in a battle against big time,
big money, big trouble developers.

Speaker 3 (00:32):
And now, as a brown person who just feels so
invisible where.

Speaker 4 (00:38):
We're from, brothers and sisters, I welcome you to this
joyful and.

Speaker 1 (00:43):
Day we celebrate freedom. Where we are, I know someone's
heard something and where we're going. We the people means
all the people. The Black Information Network presents Blackland with
your host Vanessa Tyler. You would think the fight would

(01:05):
be over for Josephine, right. This is a battle to
her last breath. Miss Josephine, how are you today?

Speaker 5 (01:13):
I'm just fine, Thank you.

Speaker 1 (01:15):
Miss Josephine Wright is certainly fine. Her faith likely has
her with her father in heaven. You likely heard about
her story. There is a new update, but here's our
chat about a month before she died.

Speaker 6 (01:28):
You are ninety four years young and you still have
to fight. Tell me about the land in Hilton Head,
South Carolina.

Speaker 2 (01:37):
I've been in the family Sinceus of War, as most
people know, and it was kept that way all along.
I retired here in nineteen ninety four with my husband
of fifty one years, and we've been on this land

(01:57):
for thirty five years. And we in this family have
raised most of our family and grandson children to make
sure that this land stays in this family as it is.
And this is what my fight is all about.

Speaker 1 (02:16):
The fight was not easy. An old woman holding onto
heritage on Jonesville Road. Problem for those who tried to
get her land and historic Hilton Head, South Carolina was
this little lady was not going down without a fight.

Speaker 6 (02:29):
Just give us a picture of how beautiful the land
is where you are.

Speaker 2 (02:34):
It is one point eight acres. It is kept in
very good shape. It's just a part of us that
is in our heritage. The heritage belongs to this family,
and this property belonged to this family, and we are

(02:58):
determined to keep this english the family.

Speaker 1 (03:03):
Miss Josephine's home is in the area also occupied by blacks,
determined to keep their land and their heritage well.

Speaker 2 (03:10):
The colored people are the original African people that landed
on this island.

Speaker 5 (03:19):
And just before the Civil War.

Speaker 2 (03:23):
And what they did was they were the only ones
maintaining this island at that night.

Speaker 1 (03:31):
The Glor people brought to the island in the seventeen
hundreds as enslaved West Africans. They worked the rice, cotton,
and indigo plantations. They are black people known for fiercely
sticking to the culture of food, tradition, and especially their language.

Speaker 4 (03:49):
Bucker was the order of the place you see, and Madam,
of being the feeling you and what I said, bucker
do so man Bucker. But do means but if he
was by the Ghim, he didn't know who we're talking
about talking about him. So, ma'amor that bukra and Gala
means the white plantation owner.

Speaker 1 (04:05):
That's Carolyn White giving a Gullah lesson posted to YouTube
by Wiki Tongs. She's made it her mission to make
sure that the language never dies.

Speaker 4 (04:15):
My name is Carolyn Jabouli le White. I'm one of
Charleston's Gallas storyteller.

Speaker 5 (04:22):
I cherish it.

Speaker 4 (04:23):
I like to tell people about it. And so far
as speaking of Galla, it doesn't embarrass me, not one
bit because when we get together, you know, my age group,
we sit down and talk to one another, and you
willn't understand a thing me talking about and thinking about that.
The ancestors used to talk about the Bakra. I bet
you don't know who Bukra is, o Lord. The Bakra

(04:47):
is the plantation owner. That's the word Bakra means plantation owner.
But see when Madam been in the field and talking
about the Bakra, he didn't know that he was talking
about him.

Speaker 5 (04:58):
Back Rah.

Speaker 4 (04:59):
So any book you pick up mostly in Galla, you'll
see that word Bukra in there. So I explained that
because Bucker was the owner of the players you see
and mary him of being the feeling. You ain't wanna,
said Bucker, do so? And so man Bucker, but do
mean but if he was by the gate, he ain't
know who he talking about talking about him. So remembered
that Bucker and Galla means the white plantation owner. And

(05:22):
shum over there, Massy Gall, you ain't shum over there.
You ain't shum there. Shum day means to see see
it over there, shum dead uh huh. Shum there means
not just this, you know, it's an object something. You
see the word shum and what another yum yum dey
see him there, you know, yum he him there, yum

(05:43):
dead hell him there, you know. And the people old
people talk the guayan a guy Gallagher for guy now
going now and means I'm leaving. I'm gwine down here
and uh hanna, no what day clean mean? I bet
you any young fellas don't know what deay clean is.
Somebody says, what that cleaned? The day I'll clean or what? No,
that's the break of dawn. Yeah, break of dawn means

(06:07):
a day clean. So yeah, pass it. Come on now,
get ready going in the field because they're almost day clean. Yeah,
so Massy get up in the morning. Gotta fix me
Chris because it's almost day clean. Come on, gal now
we gotta go in the field now cause he almost
day clean. Oh come on boy, now, get ready now

(06:28):
because he almost day clean, you know. And we make it.
Look when I go to entertain the people, I sing
the song day clean, and I have them in the
back and I say day clean. So then when I'm finished,
I say now ran as day clean. Then some will guess, oh,
that's in the morning. But that's the gallow word for
early in the morning day clean, some day day clean.

(06:50):
So coming up on these islands was, you know, as children,
was all right, because you learn a lot, you learn
how to be self sufficient. Because the old people used
to plant their own garden, you know, and they never
thought about going to buy a pigley wigly to buy
no potato. We call them ice potato. No ice potatoes.

(07:11):
That's a white potato, an Irish potato, ice potato. Come on, now,
we got to go in the field and pick up
the ice potato. Uh huh, yes, Lord.

Speaker 1 (07:24):
Back to Miss Josephine. Although her long career took her elsewhere,
retirement meant coming back to her family land on black land,
where black people carved down a piece for their own.

Speaker 2 (07:36):
This is the Gold Country, and we keep this heritage,
even though there has been times when the taccines of
others other than myself have been taken away under such
turms that they could not protect it, and they did

(08:00):
not know how to fight for their property.

Speaker 6 (08:04):
What's their presence now there on Hiltonhead.

Speaker 2 (08:07):
Well in nineteen ninety four, nine, nineteen ninety four, I
go back nineteen fifty four, this island was ninety five
percent black. Now it's about ten percent. And it has
been like a way of moving us over and stepping

(08:34):
on us to move in to take over the lands
that belonged to our fourth father.

Speaker 1 (08:47):
When did your battle begin?

Speaker 5 (08:50):
My battle began about two years ago.

Speaker 2 (08:54):
And what happened was we were we heard these terrible
noises in the back of our house. When we went out,
we saw them knocking down trees. It was a forest
of trees behind my house, and they were just tearing
them down one by one. Then one day my granddaughter

(09:20):
was in the bedroom and she was getting dressed, and
there were men looking in our window from the construction company,
and she let out such a terrible scream. I came
running in there and see what was going on, and
she told me there was some men looking in the window.

Speaker 5 (09:43):
We went outside and then they were gone.

Speaker 2 (09:47):
Then the next thing that happened was I came out
of my house one day and on my window on
the outside of my front porch, was it a twelve
foot snake.

Speaker 5 (10:03):
On the window.

Speaker 2 (10:05):
And anybody that lived down in this country, no snakes
don't go on the window.

Speaker 5 (10:11):
The other one was my car we got out of.
We came out of our house one Sunday.

Speaker 2 (10:17):
Morning and I went together in my car and I
had two flat tires. This car was only two years old,
and found out that the tires had been flashed. Well,
they can't say that these are the people that did it,
but it was done.

Speaker 6 (10:37):
This sure sounds suspicious, that's for sure.

Speaker 2 (10:40):
That would be part of the intimidation. Plus, the flag
and tree.

Speaker 6 (10:44):
Fell on my house, and then a tree fell in your.

Speaker 2 (10:46):
House as the only thing that protected my whole house
was a telephone pole that blocks the tree from falling
completely on the house.

Speaker 1 (10:56):
You've not been fighting alone.

Speaker 6 (10:58):
You have family.

Speaker 1 (10:58):
You have seven children and forty grandchildren, fifty great grandchildren
and seventeen great great grandchildren. It's one on the way. Yes,
wow with you right now is your granddaughter Urina Davis. Urina, welcome, Hi,
Thanks for having us. What has this battle done to

(11:21):
your grandmother.

Speaker 3 (11:24):
Boll It's definitely put a lot of stress on us
as a family. We've been going through a lot just
trying to basically uplift Grandpond during her fight, to make
sure that she has the backing that she needs during
this time. It made us upset. My grandmother is a
sweet person. She's had hands and raising pretty much all

(11:45):
of us.

Speaker 5 (11:46):
We spent our.

Speaker 3 (11:47):
Summers here we've came for holidays when we were younger.

Speaker 2 (11:51):
Here.

Speaker 3 (11:52):
Hilton Head is such a beautiful, tranquil place where I
just remember running around in the yard just having a
good time as a and I couldn't understand why they
were kind of pretty much trying to intimidate my grandmother
from a place that she's been and my grandfather who
has since passed on. They have been here for thirty

(12:13):
plus years, just after they have working people just trying
to live their life and retire on land that rightfully
belongs to us.

Speaker 1 (12:23):
Who are the people behind the developers that are trying
to get the land.

Speaker 3 (12:29):
Yeah, Unfortunately we're in a legal battle with them right now,
so we can't really speak too much on the legal part.
But I'll just refer to them as a developer. They're
just who they are. I guess they just want to
take something that doesn't belong to them.

Speaker 1 (12:45):
Now, here's the update. Those developers, Bailly Point Investment LLZ,
came to a settlement with the family, although reports are
they will continue with a one hundred and forty seven
unit neighborhood up against the land of the errors of
Josephine Wright. There is now an agreement which includes calling
for the development company to put up sound barriers, care

(13:06):
for the landscaping where the properties connect, and to never
contact the family of Josephine right again. Before she died.
Miss Josephine became so well known due to a GoFundMe
account that caught celebrity attention. Another one of her granddaughters,
Jeres Graves, put it up all determined to save the land.

Speaker 3 (13:26):
That's one of the things about this family that's so
important because.

Speaker 5 (13:29):
We all grew up together.

Speaker 1 (13:30):
We all know each other, you know, we know each
other's children, We protect each other, we love each other.
That love translated into a force that went viral when
the story of big time developers trying to push a
little black lady off her family land started people talking
how this was not right.

Speaker 5 (13:52):
We'll bring you by here.

Speaker 6 (13:53):
I just wanted to have a nice inn.

Speaker 3 (13:56):
Everybody together, You need to help out Woodhook kids, to
bring a family together like you getting Henlujah.

Speaker 1 (14:03):
Help came from a let's say, woman who doesn't take
any mess.

Speaker 5 (14:07):
Everybody, here's the deal.

Speaker 1 (14:09):
Tyler Perry, producer philanthropist, stepped in to help a woman
as strong as Medea keep her spot in her paradise
of nearly two acres and coveted Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Speaker 2 (14:22):
Perry is building me a home Medea on the property,
being that my family is so large that we need
the space because right now my little house here is
a little bit older, crowded.

Speaker 5 (14:37):
So he offered to build me what I've wanted.

Speaker 2 (14:42):
And I left the beautiful home in New York, and
I told him of that home, and he's trying to
revamp that home.

Speaker 6 (14:52):
Oh wow, that's amazing. Have you broken ground yet?

Speaker 5 (14:57):
Not yet.

Speaker 2 (14:58):
We're waiting on a few you little problems that are
popping up.

Speaker 5 (15:03):
However, we're working on it.

Speaker 1 (15:07):
We know now she never got to see that home,
reports our Perry. We'll still build it for the family.
The public outpouring pushed the GoFundMe last year to more
than it's three hundred and fifty thousand dollars goal. The
bottom line is you're not going to be forced to move.

Speaker 3 (15:24):
Yes, correct, the landing and property of being in our
family for generations to come as that has been.

Speaker 2 (15:30):
In past and it's gonna stay that way. And the
foundation we have it we turn this property into a
profoundation which is called the Joseph Scheme Right Foundation we're
going to make that nonprofity and we're in the process
of dealing with paperwork on that right now.

Speaker 1 (15:53):
Is this something that will solidify that property in you know,
when you leave and when you pass on.

Speaker 5 (15:59):
Is that exactly?

Speaker 2 (16:01):
It'll sanctify this property as being historical and that's where
we're going to keep it that to make sure that
it does not get interfered with what we want to
do with this property.

Speaker 6 (16:18):
Miss Josephine, what's your advice to other black people holding
onto land in the face of big time developers.

Speaker 2 (16:25):
I would say there are other means other than selling
your property or given in to intimidation, for you to
keep on fighting.

Speaker 1 (16:39):
It may not be how she thought she'd spend the
last years of her life, she did fight until the
very end.

Speaker 2 (16:46):
Just tell them to leave me alone and let me
live in peace on my property and enjoy it with
my tram.

Speaker 1 (16:54):
I'm Vanessa Tyler and join me next time on black Land.
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