Race and Reckoning in Forsyth County

1912-2020

Truth and Reconciliation?

In the wake of the march, Williams and his compatriots presented a list of demands to Forsyth County officials that included financial reparations for descendants of the Black landholders from 1912, investigations into violations of federal employment law and housing law, and affirmative action programs to hire more Black teachers and police officers. Governor Joe Frank Harris created the Cumming/Forsyth County Biracial Committee to explore these issues. The committee included six members endorsed by Cumming residents and six backed by civil rights leaders.

In December 1987, after ten months of negotiation, the committee failed to reach a unified recommendation and instead published two separate position papers. Local representatives scoffed at the civil rights activists' demands and insisted that Black residents had “voluntarily relocated” in 1912. In their eyes, Forsyth County had “no apologies to make to anyone,” much less reparations. The pro-civil rights group recommended that Harris establish a permanent race-relations committee to root out racial hatred in the long term. But Harris did nothing, effectively granting victory to the local whites. Integration slowed after that, and the county’s Black population was estimated at only thirty-nine a decade later.