She’s got angels all around her!
94-year-old Josephine Wright moved from New York to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her late husband Samuel Wright Sr. almost 30 years ago, CNN reports. The couple sought respite from city life, settling on the 1.8-acre property that had been in her husband’s family since the Civil War. Her husband passed away in 1998, and Wright eventually acquired the deed to the land in 2012. Now the property is at the center of an age-old legal battle with developers, Georgia-based Bailey Point Investment, LLC suing the elder after Wright claimed she declined to sell her home for a paltry $30,000.
Wright’s granddaughter Tracey Love Graves said developers offered her $30,000 for her land. Bailey Point is developing 27 acres near Wright’s home to construct 147 homes, The National Desk reports. When Wright declined, Bailey Point returned with a lawsuit in February of this year, claiming her satellite dish, shed, and screened-in-porch were on their property, thus delaying construction of the new homes. The lawsuit then requested Wright’s home be removed while seeking compensation for its loss and expenses related to delays. Initially, Wright removed the shed and satellite dish and attempted to downsize her porch in an effort to comply. Then, she decided to fight back.
“My porch is not on their property…I want to be left alone. I want to live on my property like I have always, in peace and quiet,” Wright told reporters.
Cover photo: Tyler Perry Set to Build New Home for 94-Year-Old SC Woman Fighting to Save Her House/Josephine Wright’s Hilton Head Island, South Carolina home/Photo Courtesy WJCL/CNN
The elder then filed a counterclaim in April, citing a variety of intimidation tactics and harassment, including littering, cutting her bushes, and trashing her property, all in an effort to force her to sell her property. Wright has 40 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and 16 great-great-grandchildren. To experience all she has and still have to deal with issues like this struck a chord in the community.
After family members launched a GoFundMe to help with Wright’s legal fees, her story went national, and many celebrities rushed to her defense. Civil rights attorney Bakari Sellers was one of the first to get behind Wright’s claim, noting that this issue is an old one for Black Hilton Head natives. Like Wright’s late husband, many of them are part of the Gullah Geechee people, descendants of formerly enslaved Africans forced to work on rice, indigo, and Sea Island cotton plantations. Even after the end of the Civil War, they have maintained their land, customs, and community. But every now and again, developers come around trying to take what has been rightfully theirs.
“Their land is so valuable. They [developers] have been doing this for years. This is not new,” explained Sellers.
“They have never been able to fight back. But once they see somebody doing it, they will know that they have the right to do what I did,” added Wright.
Filmmaker Tyler Perry also got behind Wright early on, sharing her story on social media with a call to action. “Ms. Wright, please tell where to show up and what you need to help you fight,” wrote Perry.
“Josephine Wright, we stand with u!!,” wrote Snoop.
To date, donations for Wright have hit more than $360,000, Wright in deep gratitude for everything people have done for her. Recently, she got another call from Tyler Perr, who has now agreed to build Wright a new home, WBTV reports.
“He asked if there was anything we needed, and I said, ‘You know, I would love a five-bedroom house.’ And he said, ‘Done,’ Wright told reporters.
The new Perry-donated home is already in the works, with the layout set to be finished next month. While Bailey Point has responded to Wright’s counterclaim, denying all allegations, Wright is willing to take the case all the way, her granddaughter Charise Graves saying if nothing else, she is “resilient.”
“My grandmother is heartbroken but resilient and not ready to give up without a fight,” Charise said in a statement on the funding page.
To donate to Wright’s ongoing legal fight, click here. We’ve got your back Grandma Josephine!
Cover photo: Tyler Perry Set to Build New Home for 94-Year-Old SC Woman Fighting to Save Her House/Photo Courtesy of Tony Kukulich/The Post and Courier