Reconstructed: In Search of the Promised Land


Manage episode 320029064 series 2624483
By MSNBC and Trymaine Lee. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

In 1865, General William Tecumseh Sherman asked a group of African Americans in Georgia what they needed most to start their new lives as free people. The answer: land.

This led to Sherman’s order that every Black family in the region receive 40 acres, and an Army mule if they liked. It was a promise the government decided not to keep, but where the government failed, the newly freed made their own way.

In the second episode of Reconstructed, Into America continues its deep dive into Reconstruction, collaborating with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. We explore how across the South, Black Americans began acquiring land to secure autonomy, protection, generational wealth, and community. Often, they were operating on property that had been owned by their former enslavers.

Promised Land, South Carolina was one of those communities. Founded just after the Civil War in the Upcountry region, Promised Land was self-sufficient, with a church, school, and farms to nourish its people’s mind and body. In a visit to the town, Trymaine Lee talks to Reverend Willie Neal Norman Jr. and Elestine Smith Norman, a couple who can trace their Promised Lands roots back over a century.

And Into America travels to rural Georgia to learn about a group of 19 families who bought several hundred acres in 2020 with the dream of creating a new town: Freedom.

“Freedom is the answer to our ancestors’ prayers,” co-founder Ashley Scott tells Trymaine. “Going forward and building Freedom is in honor of the blood, the sweat, the tears that they laid down for us in the past.”

For a transcript, please visit

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at

Further Listening:

193 episodes