The full episode transcript is below.
Latasha Morrison 0:00
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You are listening to the Be the Bridge podcast with Latasha Morrison.
Latasha Morrison 1:31
[intro] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting!
Each week, Be the Bridge podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.
Latasha Morrison 1:42
[intro] …but I’m going to do it in the spirit of love.
We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society, but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.
Latasha Morrison 2:20
Hello, be the bridgers, this is Latasha Morrison. And I wanted to thank you for joining us on this podcast. And I think you will really find hope in this next podcast that we’re about to present to you. I interviewed Durwood Snead. And Durwood is doing some incredible work here in the Atlanta metropolitan area as it relates to restoration. We do understand that this episode is not solely about a reckoning as it relates to the harm that was caused by systemic issues in the Forsyth County. But this is just the beginning. And one of the things that we do at Be the Bridge is we try to create a pathway where people have different entry points. There’s an onramping for people to go from awareness all the way to reproduction. And a part of that restoration and reproduction work is leveraging your position, leveraging your privilege, leveraging your God given gifts to do something about the systemic issues that we are facing as it relates to racial injustice in our country. And this is what Durwood has done. This is not the answer. This is just simply a man doing his part to begin the work of making a wrong right and to begin some of the undoing that has caused harm. We’re just excited because he has brought along several other community members and pastors in the beginning of his work. So I think this message in light of everything that’s happening in our country, in light of a lot of the pushback with this message of truth and justice, I think you would find this message hopeful that there are some solutions. And sometimes those solutions are not going to be passed down from the government at first. But we can make an example. We can be the headlights in this. And that is what Durwood Snead is doing. He is being the headlights in his community and trying to create a path forward. And so I hope you enjoyed this interview with Durwood Snead. And please, look up more information on The Forsyth Scholarship. Thank you so much!
Okay, so Be the Bridge community, we have a new friend for you to meet today. His name is Durwood Sneed. He is the co founder of the African American Descendants of Forsyth Scholarship that we will explain a little bit later. But first, he is a retired missions pastor from North Point Ministries here in Alpharetta, Georgia. He’s a businessman. And he lived in Forsyth, Georgia for 33 years where he and his wife have raised their family of five children. Durwood serves on several boards and organizations. He has a background in missions where he’s done work in over 70 countries. He’s been married to his wife for 48 years and have five grown children and 14 grandchildren. Wow. Okay. (laughter) So we have got to get to the point where, you know, this is just a little introduction that I have of you. There was a journey. So there’s a website that a few months ago, I had a friend that lives in Cumming. And we’ll explain, those of you who don’t know much about Forsyth County here in Georgia, it’s sad, but I’m going to give you a way to recognize it. It is a, I have several people we know that live there. There’s been a lot of changes, a lot of positive change. But if you remember the county years ago that Oprah did a special on and there was a lot of racism in the county, I’ll let Durwood explain about all of that. But in the midst of that there’s some work that’s happening. God is moving. And they have started a scholarship program. And I want to talk about that. I want us to talk about reparations today. And this is just actually some active reparations that’s happening locally, this happening by the people, for the people. And I wanted to bring that to the Be the Bridge community. Because a lot of times we’re wondering, “Okay, what can we do?” You know? So as you listen, as you learn, as you lament, there’s another component of the L’s and that is of leverage. And this is a way to leverage your role in society, your resources, your scholarship, you know, your giftings, all of those things. There’s a way to leverage that for the greater good. And so we’re gonna talk about that. So Durwood I’m so happy to have you here on the Be the Bridge podcast.
Durwood Snead 7:48
Oh, my honor to be here. Thank you so much.
Latasha Morrison 7:51
Yeah. So give us a little, you know, I gave a little bit of your background. Tell us a little bit about your journey. I know, we met you through a mutual mentor of a friend of ours. I had actually heard about the website and what was happening a little bit before that. And then you met with Amanda, our operations director about something that’s totally separate from this. And then we found out you were the co founder of the Forsyth Scholarship. And so Amanda was like, “You got to have him on the podcast. It was a great conversation.” So I want to hear a little bit about who you are. How in the world did this happen and how did you get to this point? (laughter) So many questions, I don’t even know where to begin. So many questions.
Durwood Snead 8:48
You know, I’m still trying to figure that out myself, Latasha. (laughter) But let me share a little bit of the story. So yeah, I was a business guy, you know, kind of in the corporate business world for a number of years. And we had three children when we moved to Atlanta. And we lived in a three bedroom house. And then we had two more children. And we just started feeling like, you know, we’d like to expand a little bit. But the other thing I was feeling was, I’d love to get outside of just the yuppie part of Atlanta. We were living in an area that was really upwardly mobile, it was very white. And I’d love to get my family around some people a little bit different. And so we found a little bit of land up here in Forsyth County. We found five acres and God just seemed to lead us very clearly to move here. And we did but this was 1988 when we bought this land. And the guy that actually was the guy we were talking to about building our house was the head of the Chamber of Commerce at the time. And we had just heard about marches that Hosea Williams, Atlanta city councilman, had led to Forsyth County. We heard about Oprah Winfrey and the story she did. And this was all in 1987 that that happened, so the year before we bought our land. So I talked to my builder and I said, “Are we move into the wrong place? I mean, this sounds like, there’s a lot of controversy, there’s a lot of racism in this county.” And he said, “You know, that’s the way we used to be. But we’re changing a lot. We’ve made a lot of progress. And now it’s a great place to live. We want people of all colors and races to live here.” So he kind of calmed me down. So we went ahead with our plans and built our house. And it was interesting, because my son had a baseball coach that smoked and chewed in the dugout. I mean, it was really interesting time period. (laughter) So as we started meeting friends around us, and so many people were like us, moving into the county from other places, and we’re all trying to discover what is this place and what is it becoming you as we move forward. And we all had heard about some dark racial history in the county. But I knew very little about that. And so I raised my kids here. You know, we would hear comments every once in a while about the fact that, you know, “This is a white county, and we kind of like that.” And when I’d hear those comments I’d talk to people, “Why are you saying that? What in the world are you thinking?” But then those were kind of comments off to the side. It wasn’t like the mainstream. And then the county was growing so much when we moved here was 44,000 people, today it’s 250,000. And so as it grew, you have people coming in from all over the place and such a diverse group of people from all over the country, from all over the world. Actually, a lot of immigrants were moving here, especially Asians and Hispanics especially, but some Black people as well. And as all this changed, you know, we’re watching all this, but then I kept thinking in the back of my mind about the history of the county, and I didn’t know much about it. One day, I read some things about a little town called Oscarville, which is the northern part of Forsyth County. And then, one day, I was actually taking my little 18 foot Boston Whaler fishing boat out on Lake Lanier and I noticed the little food mart I was passing was called the Oscarville Food Mart. I said, “Wait a minute, I read something about Oscarville so I need to research this.” And this is crazy, Latasha, but this was like, a little over a year ago, when I really started researching all this. And so I got on the internet started looking at Oscarville, looking at the history. And I found this book called Blood at the Root by a guy named Patrick Phillips that was published in 2016. And my wife and I read that in February of last year. And as we read through it, we began weeping as we heard about the expulsion of every single Black person in this county in 1912. And the story basically was this: There was an 18 year old white girl named Mae Crow, who was raped and brutalized and she ended up dying of her injuries about two weeks later. The morning after they found her, she was still conscious and still alive anyway. I’m not sure about how conscious she was, that’s debatable when you start looking at old stories. But that day, one person named Ernest Knox was arrested on very spurious evidence, a Black man lived on a street, Black boy, he was 16 years old. And the following day, four more Black people on her street were arrested for the crime, one of which was even a woman who they claim was at the scene of the crime and saw it and didn’t do anything. The following day, one of the people that was arrested, a guy named Rob Edwards, was pulled out of the jail by a mob by a white mob incoming, killed, and then strung up on a telephone pole.
The following, right after that, the other four Black people that had been arrested were then brought to trial. Two of them were convicted of murder. And they were both hung publicly, which was actually against the law at that time. Public hanging was against the law. All these things was supposed to be private. But anyway, they were both hung publicly. And that was all bad enough. And we we have no idea who was guilty and who wasn’t. We know that the trials were very quick. They were like less than three hours each for a capital murder trial before these two men who were 16 and 17 years old at the time we were convicted and hung. But after that, nightriders went around the county and went to every Black home and told people, “If you don’t leave immediately, we will kill you. And we will burn your house down.” They even went to their employers, most of whom were farmers in the county that were white. And they told them, “If you don’t get rid of these Black people on your land, we will burn your house down.” So literally over a period of about 30 days, virtually every Black person in the county (which there were about 1,100 at the time), every one of them had to leave. And as my wife and I read about that we wept. We imagined being one of these families that had nothing to do with any of these issues going on and simply had to leave their home and go somewhere where nobody wanted them. After I read this book, I reached out to the author, I found his email on the internet, Patrick Phillips. And Patrick and I, he’s now a professor at Stanford University, and he and I began dialoguing about all this. And I just felt like I needed to do something. You know, it’s just one of these things where, I don’t know if you’ve had this, Latasha, you probably have, where there are times you feel like God’s telling you, “You got to do something, there’s something you just got to do.” And I didn’t know what it was. Patrick Phillips then told me that someone else had reached out to him in our county, a guy named Adam Johnson, who’s the pastor at Browns Bridge Church, which happens to be my church.
Latasha Morrison 15:41
Durwood Snead 15:42
And so I call up Adam, and spent three hours over at his home that afternoon, and we began talking about this. And Adam told me, he said, “You know what, one of the ideas we’ve been talking about, is maybe doing a scholarship for descendants of those people that were expelled from the county in 1912.” And basically, that finally came to be in February of this year. We launched this scholarship, it’s a pretty significant, it’s $10,000 per year, for four years simply for descendants. And all people have to do to get it is they have to approve their descendant, they have to write an essay about the journey of their family, they have to have a 2.5 GPA, and they have to be accepted at an accredited university. So we began this really just as an act of love. And the cool thing about it was we went around to pastors in the county before we launched this. And we began talking to a number of descendants. First of all, to ask these descendants, “Do you even feel like this is a good idea?” We don’t want to do something that’s hurtful. This is all meant to be just simply an act of love. But then after that, several descendants said, “No we think it’s a great idea for you to pursue it.” So we began talking to pastors throughout the county, and we got about a dozen pastors together, they all affirmed this idea and affirmed the fact that there was an injustice that was done that was significant to the Black community in 1912, and that we felt like we need to do something that could be positive to help the next generation. So this was launched by about a dozen pastors in February of this year. And, you know, we know this is not justice, this is not making things right, but we just feel like it’s better to do something than to do nothing. And it’s simply an act of love that is for a few people that we wish we could do for anymore.
Latasha Morrison 17:34
Yeah, yeah. Thanks for that background. Because, in my book, in one of the chapters, there’s a chapter called the gospel of reparations, well the chapter is called Righting Wrongs, Making Amends. And there’s a segment where it says the gospel of reparations. And, you know, and I think, when I heard this, I saw this, and I saw that, hey, this is not something that was initiated by the city or anything, this is the church. And it’s like, almost like, the church being the tail lights, excuse me, the headlights in this versus the tail lights. We’re charting the way. And I was like, “They’re doing something.” you know, and, you know, and I think. But I want to know, how do you as a white male, you know, how did you come to this point of understanding that, “Hey, I just want to do my part to begin to right a wrong?” Like, how did you have it within yourself to even care? You know, because I know people listening, especially if you’re a person of color, this is very, this is very foreign to us to hear when people understand this, because most people think that, “Hey, if I didn’t break it, why do I have to be responsible for fixing it?” You know, and then sometimes people think, you know, “Oh, I’m going to come up with a solution, but I’m not even going to really, you know, ask the descendants.” You know? Because I’m even thinking about, you know, most of the time when people would leave in situations like this, because there’s so many stories like Oscarville, all across this country. These are just some of the ones that were documented. I mean, there’s several here in Georgia. If you live in a predominately white area historically, there’s a reason why it’s like that, especially in the south. So I know, for me, I’m researching some of my family history and it goes back to Maxton, North Carolina, Robeson County area. But this is stuff I’m just finding out. And I’m, you know, in my late 40s. And so I want to know, how do people even know that they were a descendant? Because that information, majority of the time if it’s not passed on, you know, or lost…
Durwood Snead 20:19
Latasha Morrison 20:20
…you have to do some research. And research takes money. Like every time I get something, I have to buy another subscription to this, another subscription to that. I mean, let’s really talk about the injustice in that. (laughter)
Durwood Snead 20:33
No, right. Absolutely. Yeah.
Latasha Morrison 20:35
So how did you find the descendants?
Durwood Snead 20:39
Yeah. Great question.
Latasha Morrison 20:39
And then I want to know, how did you get to this point to make you want to leverage and act?
Durwood Snead 20:47
Yeah, that’s great. Great questions. In fact, you know, the path we’ve been on has been one of discovery all along, because we knew nothing about how to do any of this. But it just almost was if we just seemed to need to take a step at a time. And then God just started opening doors. So on the descendant side, you know, we had this dialogue going with Patrick Phillips, the author of that book. And Patrick had done 10 years of research to write the book. So he had already discovered several descendants. So he was very gracious in connecting us to them for us then to have conversations with them. One lady’s name is Elon Osby, she’s actually with the Atlanta Housing Authority in Atlanta. And she’s been very gracious, and we’ve gotten to be good friends with her as we’ve kind of talked about her path. She was actually…her mother was two years old when her family had to leave Forsyth County. So her mother was actually alive then. Which is really unusual, you know, because of just the length of time. It’s been 110 years since all that happened. Patrick connected us with a lady who’s a Gainesville city council woman, in the next county, Hall County, who has also been very helpful in connecting us with a lot of descendants in that county, which is where a lot of the Black people went when they left Forsyth County because it was the closest to Oscarville. They just simply needed to cross a bridge called Browns Bridge and then they were in the next county. They weren’t treated very well there either. But at least there was law enforcement to enforce the laws of the county so that kept the night riders from doing the same thing that they did in Forsyth County, you know, in Hall County. So then we have gotten some press, we’ve been in several newspaper articles that have helped us find descendants, as well, just as the story gets out. We’ve met with some African American churches that are in some of those areas, and they have been very helpful in helping to get the word out. And that’s still one of the things that we’re hoping will happen, we’re even hoping this podcast helps us with that to some extent. Because the two things we really need right now is to get the word out more widely to possible descendants. And the second thing we need is we still need to raise more funds. You know, God has been really gracious. We’ve raised about $125,000 so far. And at the same time, we’d like to raise about twice that just for this first round of scholarships that are going out.
For my path, it’s fascinating. You know, as I mentioned, reading the book, just caused us to weep as we began thinking about that, and feeling that we really needed to do something. But more importantly, as I began meeting too then with some of these descendants and hearing their stories, and hearing the way that some families had grown up just hating white people because the only experience they had had with white people was evil and bad. And we understood that so well. I mean, if that’s all I had grown up with, was simply a bad experience around certain people, then obviously, you’re going to feel that way. So as we begin thinking through it, our heart just started breaking over all these broken relationships that we were seeing that happened in the past through the evil of mob mentality, the evil of fear. And being a missions pastor, I’ve traveled around the world a lot. And I’ve spent time in a lot of places where there’s been genocide. And I’ve watched how two groups can go after each other, and get to the point where there’s so much fear. And then that gets escalated to a mob mentality. And then the next group gets dehumanized. And one of the things one of my Black friends here in the county told me, he said, “You know, the reason we were treated so badly was we had been dehumanized in the eyes of white people. They didn’t think of us as human beings.” And the more I learned about this, again, the more I felt like, well, we’ve got to do something for the next generation. We can’t change any of that. So the emotion, I was really feeling…and somebody asked me at a meeting one day, I was meeting with a rotary club. And one of the guys was pushing back a little bit, one of the white residents, he said, “You know, why do we need to bring up this old stuff? Isn’t this just bringing up old wounds? And why do we need to do that?” He said, “Do you feel guilt?” And I told him, I said, “You know, no one’s ever asked me that before. And as I think about it, no, I don’t feel guilty. But I feel ashamed of what happened in this county that I’ve lived in for 33 years. And I feel compassion for the people that were expelled and for their descendants who suffered as a result of that.” I mean, 58 of these people were landowners. And they lost that land. You know, got very little compensation, if any, for it, because they had to leave immediately. And they couldn’t come back and pay the taxes, because you had to pay the taxes in person, and they couldn’t come back into the county. So just thinking then, of the loss of future generations, especially of some of the wealth that could have been passed down through that land. You know, we began just kind of mourning that as well. So we said, “You know, we can’t change all of those things. But what can we do for the next generation that hopefully can help them get a better education, that could lead to a good job, that could lead to them becoming great citizens, and hopefully helping bless their family for the future?” And that’s where this whole idea of the scholarship came up. And again, we know this is not enough, this is not fixing anything. But at least again, it’s just this one step that we hope can be helpful.
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Latasha Morrison 28:06
It’s basically the one step that you have the power to do. You know, it’s like the beginning. Because, you know, I can list a whole bunch of things that I think that, you know, kind of like when we start talking about repair. And so I think this is just really a really good beginning concept of how to make amends. And I think also being a voice for this in like the Rotary Club and in the county. What kind of like, other than this pushback, what are some of the other pushback that’s coming from, you know, that space? Because, like, when I look at this and I look at the scholarship fund, you know, I said this is a great idea. But I said, you know, I definitely think this is something that our white brothers and sisters should invest in. You know? I think, you know, that role of the scholarship fund, this is something that they can invest in. But I think like, as far as locking arms with people of color in the community and you know, talking with some of the descendants. I think that is the the role of Black people who have been impacted, you know, to kind of speak into this and tell you what’s needed. But I think, you know, the financial responsibility is going to come from the community. But I think it’s also another thing, you said that you had, I think you said 13 pastors on board with this.
Durwood Snead 29:55
Latasha Morrison 29:56
In the area. That’s incredible!
Durwood Snead 29:58
It’s actually grown since then. When we launched, it was about a dozen. But yeah, it’s actually grown since then. And we’ve even had churches that, there was one church in particular, that have a pastor and an executive pastor whose families have lived in this county for many, many generations. They’re well known names in the county. And that pastor wanted to make this public in his congregation. So he actually had us come to one of their worship services to publicly give us a check and to tell his congregation about what happened in the county and why they want to be involved in the scholarship and helping. And we just thought that was huge. Because you know, some of these families who have been here for multiple generations, it’s obviously shameful. You know? And so, you mentioned some other ideas around the pushback or some of the opposition we’ve received, we’ve been shocked, quite frankly, that we haven’t gotten more opposition. But in some ways, I feel like that many people that are kind of opposed to it privately are ashamed to speak up. And I think that’s actually a good shame.
Latasha Morrison 31:12
Yeah. Cause it’s like a lament.
Durwood Snead 31:14
Latasha Morrison 31:14
It’s like a lament that you have, it’s a deep sorrow, like it’s a groaning. Especially people of faith, sometimes we can mistake like the conviction, the discomfort of conviction that we feel as something that’s wrong. You know? And so I think with this, there’s this lament, deep lament. And lament, you know, because it is an act of God is a form of worship, should lead us toward just resolution, restorative resolution, redemption, repair all of those things. So I think, when we’re not overshadowing this with all of our partisanship, and we’re not overshadowing this with a lot of like cultural things that’s happening, and if we’re looking at this as a biblical concept, we understand that this is right. You know, when we’re viewing it from that way. So I was like, there’s no greater people to lead this than the church. And that, you know, you have all these things happening now, where you see this, just this cultural divide, you know, just everything is just so polarized.
Durwood Snead 32:36
Well, we’ve been trying to. Yeah, we’ve been trying to keep this out of the political arena completely.
Latasha Morrison 32:41
Durwood Snead 32:42
Hey, this is just some followers of Jesus, that want to do this act of love. And we’ve actually had some politicians that have wanted to get on the website. And we’ve told them, “No, we don’t want any politicians names on this website. We’d love you to support it. But we just don’t want anybody to think that this is Republican, Democratic, or anything else. These are just some followers of Jesus, and we want Jesus to get all the credit.” Now, at the same time, we’re inviting the entire community to get on board. And it’s really neat how so many people that are not followers of Jesus have jumped in completely and said, “Yeah, we love this. We’re not sure about that Jesus thing. But we really like this idea. We love what you guys are doing. And we want to get on board. We want to support you financially. We want to put our name on it.” And so that’s been really exciting. But one thing we have done, we’re really trying to invite the entire community into a conversation here. And so as a result of that, it’s a little bit of a tightrope walk in not wanting to push people away, and at the same time, we want to stretch people in their thinking. So we have told our Black brothers and sisters, that this is not a reckoning; we know this is not justice. So right up front, we know this is not enough. Okay? then we’ve told some of our conservative white friends, look, this is not part of any other effort that’s going on. We’re not making a commentary on whether it’s a 1619 project, whether you know, or anything else, we are simply doing this one act of love. Now, let’s all talk about it, and talk about what happened in this county. And I’ve told everybody, I said, look, especially when people say, “Why are you dragging up something that’s in the past?” The truth sets everybody free. We don’t need to hide anything. You know, we just need to lay it out there. Let’s talk about it. You didn’t do it. I didn’t do it. At the same time, as I mentioned before, I’m very ashamed about what happened here. And I feel great compassion for people that were hurt. So what can we do for this next generation that can be helpful? Because we’ve all got responsibility for the next generation coming up.
Latasha Morrison 34:49
Yeah. And you know, that’s what I say. I said, you know, it’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. But as followers of Christ, it is a part of our responsibility. When we are Kingdom minded, not empire minded, not world minded, but Kingdom minded there is a responsibility that we all share and the restoration of that. And so I think this is something that’s really good that’s happening. You know, especially with all the things that we hear to say that there are 13 pastors that are on, and more, 13 pastors and more, than are on board with this in that community you’re starting. And I think, you know, one of the things is when I talk about this, you know, this is a part…confession and repentance can be collective acts. You know, true repentance always takes into account the histories of the past. And so, and then repentance requires a turning away from, you know, from our sins, from our past. But it also requires us to walk towards something too. So there’s a turning away and there’s a walking toward. And so something that’s restorative, that’s reparative. And so as followers of Christ, there is a responsibility, a weight that we own. And I mean, if we look at the Jewish system. And we look at some of the things the the laws of justice that was woven into the Jewish system, we can learn a lot from Jesus, we can learn a lot from even the mosaic laws. There’s stuff for us to learn. Like the Bible really shows us the way and how to do this. And I think, what you guys doing, and starting just in someplace, it’s going to be a benefit to that community. And also, it serves as a healing balm to those who were impacted. So if you think about maybe some of the shame that some people may feel or, you know, people say, “Why are we pulling up the past?” Just imagine what that feels like to a family that has had to carry that weight in silence. And as the older generation dies out, those stories are lost.
You know, right now, I’m trying to trace back my history where, you know, my great grandfather had 20 acres of land in Robeson County. And that land had two false deeds that were put up that he had to get lawyers to keep his land. My grandfather fought hard for, my great grandfather fought hard for that land. He was illiterate. When I look at paperwork, he signed with an X. And my aunts would say, “He was illiterate, he couldn’t read. But he could count his money.” (laughter) And he traveled across this country in the south, you know, working on railroads, doing all kinds of jobs, you know, earning a wage. And we thought that he, I thought that he had bought the land. He inherited the land from his mom, and 20 acres. And he inherited that land because the person who enslaved them happened to die during Reconstruction. And so they were able to keep that land because of the death of the slave owner, who died in 1878 during the period of reconstruction. And, so most of that land, you know, after Reconstruction if somebody was on land or owned land, or if it wasn’t well, you know, the land was confiscated, or you know, taken and given back. So we understand, you know, we do understand repair, because the only people after the Civil War that received compensation were those those enslavers who were…the greater need that our country saw was to unite the union, you know, to unite the nation. And so, so compensation of $300 were paid to slave owners. Same thing in Europe. You know? The same thing happened in Europe. And you know, when we look at the poverty of Jamaica, there’s a reason for that. You know? And so I think until we go back and pull back the covers on some of this history, we don’t understand the context. And so everyone is bound up, because, you know, it’s truth that makes us free, it gives us understanding, it makes it right. And if we see any, you know, any work…when we look at even Germany, Germany as imperfect as it is, they have learned from their past. Their new systems that they set up, so they do not repeat the old mistakes. They talk about their history, they don’t try to hide it, or try to say that Nazism didn’t exist. You know? They’ve set up new systems to hopefully protect them from that ideology in the future. And so they had to set up a whole new system, a government, all these things so that they can work differently. There’s different laws they have for justice, and how they run their prisons, and all of that, because of those things. And so, you know, a country that claims that it was founded on Christian principles, you know, that can be challenged (laughter), you know, a lot. But, you know, we’re the only ones that really say that we’re a Christian nation. Nobody else claims that title. Canada doesn’t claim that title. Australia doesn’t. But they’ve all done some form of owning their past. And so I think there’s something to learn. But you give me great hope, and what you guys are doing. Like you said, it’s not the end, it’s not the answer, but you’re just doing your little part. You know, you’re doing something to redeem a little bit. You know? And so I think, you know, with this, you know, and not only, but it does really help the communities and descendants. What I want to know, have you had people to come forward for the scholarship? And what has that process been like?
Durwood Snead 42:28
Yeah, so the application period actually ends April 30. It opened February 15. We have four applications so far. But you know, there’s still about a month left for people to apply. And we have…
Latasha Morrison 42:45
How do they prove that they’re a descendent?
Durwood Snead 42:47
Yeah, great question. So yeah, so in a lot of these families, the story has come down from usually their great grandparents, that you know they were expelled from the county. And then we’ve actually got a number of people that have volunteered that are genealogists that have volunteered to help them prove that they are from here. And so several of them were actually with the LDS Church, or the Mormon church, because they kind of do this for a living. Right? And so, and I can’t believe how much time they’re spending. They have just given so much time. I mean, in one situation, I know they’ve spent over 60 hours, you know, on this one person just trying to help them prove their descendancy. And there was a little bit of an issue of whether they actually lived in Forsyth County or just over the line and stuff like that. So, you know, fortunately, we’ve got these resources that have come forward to do that. In fact, we have been so pleasantly surprised that so many people have jumped on board and said that they can help in different ways, you know, either giving financially, helping to get the word out, this genealogical research, even to say, “Hey, if anyone needs mentoring, we’d be willing to help in the mentoring process or even filling out the application.” You know, help them as they kind of go through all of that. The other thing that’s really neat, quite frankly, is, and I hadn’t really thought about those, but all the discussions that we’re having, as we have meetings, because we’ve met with a number of Rotary Clubs, we’ve met with the Optimist Club in the county, we met with a number of prominent judges, politicians, business people, just to kind of tell the story and to make sure that people get the true story of what this is because we know that people can tend to throw a lot of things in one bucket together, and then suddenly, you know, what you’re trying to do gets hijacked. And so as a result of that, with all these meetings, the cool thing about it is all the racial discussions that have taken place. And we’ve been in meetings where there may be pushback by one person and someone else, in a very respectful way comes and says, “I’ve got a completely different perspective on this. Yeah, we’ve come a long way as a county, but we have a long way to go.” I was in one meeting where we have a actually very prominent person in the county, in county government, who’s Black. And he was in a meeting where everyone else in the meeting was white. And a couple of people in the meeting was saying, “Well, we think we’ve made a lot of progress in this county. Why do we need to now drag all this stuff back up?” Again, of course, he spoke up, raised his hand, he says, “Well, as you can expect, I’ve got a little bit of different perspective. And one difference is that, how many Black people do you see in this room?” He says, “Okay, it’s me. You know, if we had made as much progress, as you guys think we’ve made, there would be a number of Black people in this room.” And then, and so after that, the cool thing is just watching all of them congregate over there in a small group and discuss this and start talking, and then purpose to get together over a meal. Let’s have a further discussion about it. So those discussions may be the greatest benefit of all of this, Latasha. You know, is we just get people talking on all sides. Because what I’m learning is that in a lot of these community meetings, people only like to talk about the stuff that’s pleasant, like giving to, you know, some charity, or really helping something out, or just talking about all the wonderful things going on in the county. But this is actually forcing people to talk about an uncomfortable issue. And to do it, though, in a respectful way, because they’re all joined together in a club. Right? And so through that, they’re able to have some great discussions with commonality of approach, which I’m just so encouraged by,
Latasha Morrison 46:42
Right. And I think, you know, I know, my goddaughter, they went to school up in that area and their mom, they actually got pulled out of school and homeschooled into their middle school years. Because it was like, one thing it was, in an elementary school it wasn’t an issue as much, but when they hit middle school she started seeing stuff and hearing stuff and comments and all of those things. Because we have to realize, like, this doesn’t die out without work. And so all it does, it just goes more covert, underneath, and you see the the fruit of it. You know? But it’s done, you know, sometimes ways and communicates in other ways. And so, you know, our lived experiences are very different. So your experience in Forsyth County is not, you know, their experience in Forsyth County. It’s not universal. And so I think, you know, and especially when you start dealing with different layers of socio economic status, like, you know, when you’re the only Brown person in the room or you’re the only Brown person in the classroom, all of those things make a difference. So it’s like, you know, we are definitely Be the Bridge, we like to start with conversations. You know that’s a part of our model relationship – proximity. You know, but a lot of that also is educating ourselves on the issue. But in order to educate yourself on the issue, you have to first recognize that there is an issue. That there is brokenness. And so you have to believe in systemic racism, you know, in order to really begin to come into this conversation that we have at Be the Bridge. And so we’re grateful for you guys. Grateful for all the work that you’re doing. And it’s called the Forsyth Scholarship Fund.
Durwood Snead 48:46
Yep. And the website is ForsythScholarship.org. Which has got the entire background of the entire scholarship, as well as the application process, and ways to donate. You know, straight through that.
Latasha Morrison 49:00
And the book that you refered to, what was the book called again? And we’ll put this in the notes.
Durwood Snead 49:05
Sure. Blood at the Root.
Latasha Morrison 49:07
Yeah, Blood at the Root.
Durwood Snead 49:07
By Patrick Phillips.
Latasha Morrison 49:08
And I know that, my friend, Stuart Hall…
Durwood Snead 49:12
Oh yeah, I know Stuart.
Latasha Morrison 49:12
…had actually, yeah Stuart had told me about it. He and his wife had told me about that back in 2017. I think he may have given me a copy of it. But he’s done a lot of study around it too. Just seeing what you’re dealing with. And I think that’s important for anyone if you’re living in a community to do that work. To find out, like, who were the marginalized and who is the marginalized now and your community and be a part of the restoration process. So we’re grateful for you, Durwood, and all the work that you guys are doing. And we look forward to to hearing more about the scholarship fund. Maybe when you get some more recipients, I would love to get an update on what’s happening with that. You know, and as you get more people of faith to add on to the the goal that you guys have of raising these funds. And I would love to see where this takes Forsyth County into this next decade. Like the beginning of healing possibly in that community. So, yeah.
Durwood Snead 50:26
Great. Well, thank you so much, Latasha. Thank you so much for what you’re doing, and it’s just a great work. And we’re honored just to be able to have this time with you.
Latasha Morrison 50:35
Okay, so thank you so much.
Durwood Snead 50:37
Latasha Morrison 50:37
And that is it. Okay, but you know what, before we go, I was about to wrap up. But can you tell me something that you’re lamenting right now and then something you’re hopeful for? So we’ll start first, what is something that you’re lamenting right now?
Durwood Snead 50:41
I think the biggest thing is just the pain that these 1,100 Black people felt by losing everything that they owned and having to go somewhere where nobody wanted them. And I’m lamenting what our county, what people in our county did to actually cause all that pain that would go on for a long time. And I think the thing I’m hopeful for is just the conversations. It’s just how many conversations we are hear, we’re seeing now between Black and white people in this county. But the other thing that brings me so much hope is as I met with descendants, just hearing the way that God has worked in their lives, because almost every one of them have been people of faith, which is so cool. So we’ve had these amazing faith discussions together. And many of them have actually shared stories of how God took pain in their life and converted it to hope. And one of the things that we are hoping that we can capture through the essays of some of these recipients is some of those stories that have happened in these families.
Latasha Morrison 52:07
So good. So good. Thank you so much Durwood. It’s a pleasure to meet you and have this conversation. And we’re definitely praying for you in the efforts that you guys have with the scholarship fund. So wishing you the best.
Durwood Snead 52:24
Well thank you so much. We are still on this huge learning curve in all of this. But it’s fun, it’s exciting, and at the same time, we’re just kind of keeping our hands open for whatever God wants to do.
Tandria Potts 52:39
Go to the donors table if you’d like to hear the unedited version of this podcast.
Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community, go to BeTheBridge.com. Again, that’s BeTheBridge.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the Senior Producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai