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It was once his family’s farm — the largest Black-owned farm in Albemarle County — but now we all own part of it

by PHILIP COBBS | Photos by Kori Price

Last year I passed a milestone, 65 years on Earth. As I reflected on my life, it occurred to me: I had spent most of my life within a football field’s length of my birthplace. I was so immersed in the place I took for granted how safe I felt there.

Ten miles southeast of Charlottesville, where Buck Island Creek joins the Rivanna River, our family farm did not have a formal name. It was often called the Garland Farm. When I was born, it was the largest Black-owned farm in Albemarle County, at more than 600 acres. I took for granted that I could walk all day and never have anyone ask me what I was doing there. I belonged there, it had belonged to my family for generations. I felt at one with the land.

Now, I simply call it Buck Island.

Today, there is little evidence of our family farm’s existence. Everyday, hundreds of commuters on Thomas Jefferson Parkway pass by it on their way to Charlottesville. A small white church is the little left of a once vibrant community.

A road sign on Thomas Jefferson Parkway identifies Buck Island Creek. There are no markers to signify where the Garland family farm once stood. Kori Price/Charlottesville Tomorrow

A few years ago, when I looked for Buck Island Creek on Google Maps, I was surprised that it was mislabeled. Buck Island Creek begins near Buck Island, but the fork to the west is mislabeled as the Rivanna River. The place I remember so well had disappeared from the map.

But there is hope in preserving the story of Buck Island’s past.

Continue Reading on the Charlottesville Tomorrow Website

This story was published as a part of Charlottesville Inclusive Media’s First Person Charlottesville project. Have a story to tell? Here’s how.

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