Josephine Wright
Josephine Wright speaks during a press conference held at Town Hall on Hilton Head Island on June 22, 2023. Wright was sued by Bailey Investment LLC, an act, her supporters said, of intimidation to force her to sell her home. File/Tony Kukulich/Staff Tony Kukulich

Josephine Wright, a 94-year-old Hilton Head Island native, passed away on Sunday, January 7, 2024, surrounded by her family and loved ones. Wright was known for her legal battle with a developer who wanted to build on her ancestral land, which had been in her family since the Civil War. Her story caught the attention of celebrities like Tyler Perry and Snoop Dogg, who donated money and support to help her keep her property.

Wright was born on Hilton Head Island in 1929, and lived in a modest home on Jonesville Road. She inherited the land from her father, who had bought it from his former slave master. Wright raised nine children on the land, and worked as a domestic worker and a cook. She was a devout Christian and a member of the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.

In 2023, Wright was sued by Bailey Point Investment Group LLC, a developer who claimed that some of her structures, such as a satellite dish, a screened-in porch, and a shed, were encroaching on their property behind her house. The developer planned to build nearly 150 units on the land, which was part of a larger project to transform the area into a luxury resort.

Wright refused to sell her land or remove her structures, and hired a lawyer to fight the lawsuit. She said that the land was her heritage and her legacy, and that she wanted to pass it on to her children and grandchildren. She also said that the developer had trespassed on her property and damaged her fence and trees.

Wright’s case drew national attention from the media and the public, who sympathized with her plight and admired her courage. Many people saw her as a symbol of the struggle of the Gullah Geechee people, the descendants of enslaved Africans who live in the coastal regions of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The Gullah Geechee have a unique culture, language, and history, but they also face the threat of losing their land and identity due to development, gentrification, and climate change.

Josephine Wright Was Supported by Tyler Perry and Snoop Dogg to Fight the Developer and Preserve Her Property Rights

Among Wright’s supporters were celebrities like Tyler Perry and Snoop Dogg, who donated $10,000 each to help her pay for her legal fees and living expenses. Perry also pledged to build a new home for Wright on her land, and to help her preserve her property rights. Snoop Dogg said that he was inspired by Wright’s story, and that he wanted to show his respect and appreciation for her.

Wright’s family and friends expressed their gratitude for the donations and the support, and said that they were overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of strangers. They also said that Wright was a pillar of strength, wisdom, and commitment to justice, and that her spirit would live on through the Josephine Wright Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to protect the land and the culture of the Gullah Geechee people.

Wright’s funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 13, 2024, at 11 a.m. at the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church on Hilton Head Island. A virtual service will also be provided for those who cannot attend. The Wright family requests that the public respect their privacy as they grieve their loss, and that they continue to support the Josephine Wright Foundation and its mission.



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