The movement of the Nuwaubians from Brooklyn, NY to Eatonton, GA in 1991 brought mixed reactions from the Putnam County community, in turn, drawing reaction from the Nuwaubian community itself in a decade long saga of strained coexistence. The initial cultural differentiation between the community and the Nuwaubians placed the groups at odds. Public response following the arrival of the Nuwaubians functioned as follows: suspicion-driven hostility fueled the community’s original complaint. Complaint seemed to be validated as the authorities deemed the Nuwaubian
development illegal. This legal battle caused any new Nuwaubian action to be met as a public nuisance. As Nuwaubians acted to point to bias, residents pointed to trouble-making. In this way, the dual ignition of original differences and ongoing conflicts launched Nuwaubian perception to innumerable corners. Accounts of the group are both wide-spread and evolving, struggling to find a space to settle.
In Eatonton, much of the recorded disagreement between the communities centered on zoning conflicts, and both sides came to highlight Sheriff Howard Sills and the Nuwaubian Nation as direct enemies. Some distrusted the movement, yet those who tried to discount it completely failed as the Nuwaubian presence proved persistent for about a decade.
Initially concerned over the emergent Nuwaubian compound, disturbed residents expressed that the group “defiled their serene environment” and Nuwaubian activities “brought noise and led to a filthy environment.” 1
With time, the Nuwaubians began to express their sense of racial discrimination experienced in Eatonton.
In this letter, Nuawaubian Susan Olszewski expresses her frustration with what she feels is a judicial system tainted by racism and favoritism, warning other groups that, “We Nuwaubian Moors have already been treated unfairly, so it is obvious that others that don’t fit into the Sheriff’s buddy groups will be next.”2
Olszewski’s sentiments are highly reflective of how the Nuwaubians as a whole perceived the Eatonton community. In a telling statement from one of their defense attorneys, Leroy Johnson claims: “that their only offense was to be African American in a Caucasian neighborhood,” 3 also claiming that the practices of Nuwaubian reverence for Egyptian gods “obviously made those white residents uncomfortable.” 4
Regardless of motives, the FBI began to partner with local authorities to spy on the group beginning between 1997-1998 continuing up to a raid on the compound and the later arrest of Dr. York.
1 Emeka C. Anaedozie, Post Civil Rights Black Nationalism: The Nuwaubian Nation of Moors’ Model, 1967-2002 (Morgan State University, 2013), 109.
2 “Letter to the editor,” Eatonton Messenger (GA), Nov. 26, 1998.
3 Anaedozie, 109.
Upstateherd “Eatonton Historic District.”https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1d/Putnam_County_Courthouse%2C_Eatonton%2C_GA.jpg (accessed December 1, 2018). https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
“Letters to the Editor,” Eatonton Messenger (GA), Nov. 26, 1998. http://uncleremus.advantage-preservation.com/