Elon Butts Osby’s lawsuit to stop developer Brandon Marshall and Community Renewal LLC from removing a historic African American cemetery in the affluent Buckhead community of Atlanta, has managed to fly under the mainstream media’s radar. Mt. Olive Cemetery is the last trace of a black community founded by former slaves and in the 1920s, became a formal subdivision. During the mid-1900s the area was razed create a public park, originally named for William Bagley, Osby’s grandfather.
Marshall acquired the property after Fulton County assessed taxes against the cemetery. The property was sold at auction when the taxes went unpaid. The Buckhead Heritage Society has started a campaign to educate the public on this historic landmark. These African American slaves are an important part of the mostly white north Atlanta community and their contribution should not be erased because a developer wants to build on that land. Because the cemetery’s grounds aren’t manicured and well appointed, it doesn’t mean that isn’t sacred ground.
What’s shameful is that the property, which was owned by Mt. Olive Church, was sold by Fulton county in December 2006 because nearly $60,000 in back taxes were owed and a tax lien was placed on the property. Am I missing something here? I thought the church was exempt from taxes because it is a not-for-profit entity.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against Marshall to stop him from proceeding with his application for a Burial Ground Disturbance permit from the City of Atlanta. The developer’s request to remove the remains is in the hands of Atlanta’s Urban Design Commission. A hearing was to be held September 8, to ask a judge to step in.