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On an episode of The Amber Ruffin Show, she exposed the truth behind American history, informing the audience about the things that the federal government conceals in secret, not wanting the public to find out. Amber Ruffin detailed a dozen Black towns that have been hidden underwater, replaced by lakes or public parks.
Ruffin began her show with, “Dozens of Black towns have been erased off the American map, not by burning them down, but by hiding them underwater.” This segment that has gone viral has everyone wondering what else has the federal government attempted to obscure from the public eye? As Griffin has her viewers digging deeper into Black history, many people lost complete trust in the people that are supposed to “protect us.”
Ruffin explained the destruction of these towns, similar to events like the Tulsa Race Massacre, hindering opportunities for generational prosperity for Black people. Apart from the numerous Black communities that were wiped out by white supremacists, they also destroyed thriving Black towns, such as Oscarville and Seneca Village, and covered them up by hiding them underwater or replacing them with public parks.
Amber Ruffin details how Oscarville was submerged by “Night Riders” and replaced with Lake Lanier
Oscarville was a predominantly thriving Black town located in Forsyth County, Georgia. However, Oscarville was no longer prosperous for Blacks, as they were killed and forced out by whites in 1912 after three Black men (Rob Edwards, Earnest Knox, and Oscar Daniel) were accused of rape.
Because of these allegations, all three teenage boys were lynched. Following the lynchings, the terrorism would be worse than ever before, as a white terrorist group called the “Night Riders” had one mission, annihilate every Black person in Oscarville. In addition to forcing them out, whites would coerce blacks into giving them their property under the threat of arson, lynching, and mob beatings.
The townspeople reduced more than a thousand Black people in 1912 to none in 1920. Over the years, the property would be sold to the government, putting the plan to construct Lake Lanier into effect in 1950. Underneath Lake Lanier lies towns, schools, and churches of Oscarville, where they remain till this day.
The story of Oscarville is one of several enormities and horrific atrocities rarely noted in America, conveying the power of white terrorism, while also illustrating racial expulsion for people to understand the fears of Breathing While Black.
Sunken Towns occurred in the North: Seneca Village replaced by Central Park
The atrocities of replacing beloved Black towns with public amenities did not only happen in the South, as these events occurred in the North as well. In 1825, John and Elizabeth Whitehead partitioned their land, selling it as 200 lots and establishing Seneca Village. For African Americans, Seneca Village presented them with the opportunity to live in a sovereign community distant from compacted, populated downtown.
Although slavery was abolished in 1827 in New York, racial discrimination was still frequent in New York, making it difficult for Blacks to travel without being judged.
Therefore, Seneca Village was the perfect place for Blacks because it welcomed a departure from the city, escaping from the unsanitary and crowded places, along with the racism.
In the early 1850s, the City decided to build a park over Seneca Village, enacting a law that put aside 775 acres of land in Manhattan to establish Central Park, the first paramount landscape public park. The City gave Black residents until the end of 1857 to relocate out of the area before construction began, resulting in them fleeing the area and finding another place to reside.
Oscarville and Seneca Village are two of the numerous Black towns that have been demolished by the federal government due to Development Induced Displacement. African Americans were forced to relocate out of towns, for the government to establish parks, dams, and lakes.
In terms of compensation, Blacks would either receive very little or nothing at all from the government. For a very long time, this part of American history has been concealed, but that ends now, as it is time to enlighten others about the truth behind the federal government.