The following is a list of the issues of equity relating to Harris Neck, beginning with the original “taking” of Harris Neck in the summer of 1942. Each item listed has been fully documented. Following this list, is another list of what our Preservation & Community Development Plan will preserve, protect, enhance and accomplish on Harris Neck.
1. Virtually every aspect of Eminent Domain was violated in the taking of Harris Neck in 1942, thereby making this original taking illegal and rendering each subsequent transfer of title void and invalid.
2. The rights to Due Process of the people of Harris Neck were denied in the original taking.
3. The “just compensation” required under Eminent Domain was not made to the people of Harris Neck since:
• the White landowners, only one of whom ever lived on Harris Neck, were paid 40
percent more than the Black landowners – the 75 families that had called Harris Neck home from 1865 when they were given legal title to Harris Neck via the Last Will & Testament of Margret Ann Harris, and since
• many Black families, most likely, were never paid for their land, because the money paid by the Federal government went through E.M. Thorpe – the largest White landowner on Harris Neck, a McIntosh County Commissioner in the 1940s, and one of the conspirators referenced in number 5 below, and since
• some Black families are still in possession of their deeds, providing further evidence that everyone was not paid for their land.
4. The Federal government broke its promise to return the land to the people of Harris Neck at the end of World War II.
5. Members of the McIntosh County Commission, including E.M. Thorpe, and other prominent
officials in McIntosh County, conspired to influence the taking of Harris Neck by the Federal government and to gain control of the 2,687 acres of Harris Neck after World War II (which they did).
6. McIntosh County violated its contract with the Federal government during the time the county held title to Harris Neck (1948 to 1961) by allowing many illegal activities, including prostitution, gambling, drag racing, cattle grazing (for Whites only), and drug smuggling.
7. Again, in 1961, when McIntosh County could have assisted with the return of Harris Neck to its rightful owners, the Federal government reacquired Harris Neck and transferred title to the Department of Interior in 1962. This all transpired without the knowledge of anyone from Harris Neck – any of the Black families, that is.
8. E. M. Thorpe was given preferential treatment by US Fish & Wildlife (USFWS), which allowed him to keep some of his Harris Neck property after the 1942 taking – property that gave him valuable access to deep water on the east side of Harris Neck.
The White families that owned land on Harris Neck have been invited to be part of the Harris Neck Justice Movement. The Harris Neck Land Trust, which is the legal entity at the center of this movement, is comprised of and represents all the surviving families (Black and White) from Harris Neck. Each family has its own representative to the Trust; E. M. Thorpe’s granddaughter is one of these representatives.