March 6, 2015
New Communities for an Old Plantation
A former Georgia plantation is reclaimed by New Communities Inc.
From an article by Carlton Fletcher published in the Albany Herald.
For the better part of an hour, the generally soft-spoken Shirley Sherrod talks animatedly about the circumstances that led to the collective she and her husband, the civil rights activist Charles Sherrod, helped found that now owns the former Cypress Pond Plantation in southwest Dougherty County.
As she looks out from the beautifully restored plantation home that is the centerpiece of the soon-to-be-renamed Resora community, over the 1,638 acres of land that was formerly tended by African slaves, Sherrod becomes pensive, a touch of reverence in her voice.
“There are times, when I’m on certain parts of this land, that I get the feeling of the slaves who worked here,” she says. “It’s an incredible feeling.”
The stately Resora plantation home that was built in 1851 was restored by former owner Gerald Lawhorn and has been given a touch-up by new owners New Communities Inc.
That the Sherrods and other founding members of New Communities Inc., established in 1968 to amass land holdings and create a community — based on the concept of the Israeli kibbutz — where individuals would live truly free, would one day have collective ownership of such a place is as truly amazing a story as it is ironic.
“It is pretty cool when you think about the beginnings of this place, a plantation that was worked by African slaves, and where it is now,” Sherrod said as she and Resora staff prepared for Saturday’s grand re-opening of the former plantation. “Knowing a little of the history, though, I often wonder if the slaves who worked here ever dreamed that there would be a day when things would be different.”