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Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, Josephine Wright, Gullah, Geechee, lawsuit, Bailey Point

Source: William Reagan / Getty

Josephine Wright, a 94-year-old woman from South Carolina, spent her last days fighting to protect her late husband’s ancestral land on Hilton Head Island from Bailey Point Investment, LLC, a major housing developer. Now, two months after her passing, a settlement has finally been reached.

During an interview with South Carolina Public Radio on March 14, a family spokesperson for the Wright family confirmed that a settlement had been reached in the yearlong case. The Wright’s representative, Altimese Nichole, confirmed that Bailey Point was required to stop contacting the family about their Hilton Head property. Under the terms of the settlement, the company is also required to fix Wright’s roof, put up a privacy fence and provide landscaping.

“The family is grateful to have settled,” Nichole said. “They’re focused on keeping the legacy of Mrs. Josephine Wright alive.”

A directive from the Beaufort County Court of Common Pleas mandated both parties to engage in mediation and assigned a mediator. This mediator was granted 300 days to facilitate the resolution of the land dispute.

In a bid to assist other families confronting similar challenges, the Wright family has established the Josephine Wright Foundation. The foundation is committed to providing resources and raising awareness about land preservation through education.

Josephine Wright’s property, handed down through generations since being bought by a freed slave post-Civil War, has long been a haven of serenity for Wright and her family. However, in February 2023, a South Carolina resident’s beautiful home and land were encroached upon by Bailey Point, with plans to construct a 29-acre neighborhood with 147 units, according to Capital B News

Despite numerous offers to purchase the land, Wright staunchly refused to sell. Then, in February 2023, a developer took legal action against the 94-year-old, claiming that her residence impeded their development plans. They began construction without her consent, the lawsuit noted. Bailey Point argued that she wasn’t the rightful heir of the property.

Wright – who was less than 5 feet tall – did not let the giant developer intimidate her.

The 94-year-old sprung into action, hiring a lawyer and getting the press to cover her battle. Her story gained the attention of notable stars such as Snoop Dogg and Kyrie Irving, who reportedly donated $40,000 to the grandmother’s GoFundMe campaign. The fundraiser, created to help the matriarch, generated more than $350,000.

During her fight to protect her husband’s ancestral land, Wright allegedly faced intimidation and harassment from Bailey Point. According to her lawsuit, the company allegedly trespassed onto her property, cutting shrubs, placing snakes through her bedroom window, littering and leaving dirt and debris on her automobile and house. 

Charise Graves, Wright’s granddaughter, told Capital B, that the 94-year-old warrior went through financial hardship trying to protect the property.

“We had to figure out what would be in our best interest to protect ourselves because when you start getting flat tires, debris on your property, snakes in your bedroom window because you refuse something that somebody offered, it’s ridiculous,” Graves said.

 

Wright’s property sits on historic land.

Now, the Wright family will be able to continue living on their peaceful property that sits on top of historic land. The Wright clan are descendants of the Gullah Geechee Africans who were enslaved in the coastal regions of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida. They developed their own distinct culture characterized by vibrant traditions including storytelling, music (such as spirituals and Gullah music) and cuisine.

The Gullah Geechee people have historically faced challenges such as land dispossession, economic marginalization and cultural erasure. 

After the Civil War, the Gullah Geechee residents of Hilton Head Island held the majority of the land. The island’s population was approximately 98% Black in the 1880s. However, the demographic landscape has since shifted, and Hilton Head is now predominantly inhabited by white residents, comprising about 77% of the population, the Greenville News noted. 

Gullah Geechee land ownership on Hilton Head Island has plummeted by 70% since 1995. Descendants now posses only 8% of the island’s total residential acreage as of 2021.

SEE ALSO:

Georgia’s Gullah Geechee In Trouble As Zoning Changes Could Mean The ‘Destruction Of The Culture’

The Black Seminoles: How Fugitive Slaves Escaped To Mexico Before The Civil War

The post Family Of Josephine Wright Wins Settlement To Protect Their Hilton Head Island Property appeared first on NewsOne.

Family Of Josephine Wright Wins Settlement To Protect Their Hilton Head Island Property  was originally published on newsone.com