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July 18, 2002

TED TURNER LAND GRAB UPDATE: Here's a story from the Beaufort (S.C.) Gazette. Excerpt:

National media tycoon Ted Turner is attempting to wrestle 68 acres on St. Helena Island away from the descendants of slaves who inhabited the coastal region.

Turner claims that he purchased the land as part of 298 acres he acquired for recreational use in 1979, according to a suit filed by the CNNfounder against Lands End Woodlands Inc.

However, members of the Lands End group say the land is part of a 328-acre plat their ancestors bought for $3,200 more than 80 years ago.

"In the 1920s, a group of families that were native island families in the Lands End area purchased this 328 acres," said Gloria Cartwright, one of the heirs to property and secretary of the Lands End Woodlands Club.

Forty-seven Gullah men combined their money to first purchase the land in 1920 and the area has been left mainly undeveloped ever since.

The Gullah people descended from slaves who inhabited the Sea Islands. Because of their isolation, they were able to maintain a distinct language and culture.

"It has been kept rather primitive," Cartwright said. "People just want to have it for their families and subsequent heirs."

Turner, apparently, wants to develop the land. Where's the outrage?

UPDATE: There's outrage in the Carolina Morning News!:

One is a media mogul worth billions of dollars, who reportedly owns more than a million acres of land.

The others are descendants of 47 black St. Helena Island farmers who gave up the chance to make tens of millions in order to keep their heritage and native Gullah land pure for their own offspring.

Now, Ted Turner is suing Lands End Woodland Inc., claiming that 68 acres the descendants say they inherited are actually his.

Turner is asking a Beaufort County judge to rule that the land in question was purchased by him in 1979, to issue an order keeping the descendants from claiming the property and to reward him with actual and punitive damages.

Lands End Woodland Inc., is a corporation set up by the descendants of the original 47 farmers who bought 320 acres in 1920. Of the approximately 400 offspring, all gave up their financial stake in the valuable land several years ago to make sure that none of the other heirs could sell off portions of the land to developers.

"It's common knowledge in the area who owns the property," said Gloria Cartwright, secretary of Lands End Woodland Inc., which is made up of many of the heirs. "We have plats from the 1920s, when this was originally done." . . .

How do they feel about Turner's lawsuit?

"I think they are upset," Davis said. "I think they don't understand why someone who has so much is trying to take something from them."

Turner has been called one of the richest men in America and has been called the largest private landowner in the country, with 1.7 million acres.

A rich white guy is trying to grab land from the descendants of slaves! Where's Michael Moore? Where's Doonesbury? Where's Al Sharpton? Heck, where's Jesse Jackson, who ought to have a score to settle. . . . ?

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