After attending an overnight party, Tamla Horsford was found dead in the backyard of the host’s home in November of 2018. Claiming she “fell from the balcony”, witnesses alleged that Tamla was intoxicated and it was just an accident. However, the racist history of Forsyth County has sparked interest in the case. After gaining national attention, millions of Americans are wondering if foul play was involved. Tamla’s close friend, Michelle Graves, insists the truth has yet to be revealed.
Forsyth County History
With a population of roughly 228,000, the town is ranked as the 16th-wealthiest county in the US. Behind it’s affluence, there is a bitter, painful history. The county attracted national attention once before as a sundown town, where Black people and gays lived in fear of hostile action.
In 1912, the county was embroiled in a racial conflict that stemmed from two assaults on White women. One victim alleged her attacker was a Black male. The mere suggestion that a consensual relationship existed between her and the alleged assailant saw a Black preacher beaten nearly to death. The other victim was found fatally beaten and raped. This led to a series of attacks on Black men where one of the defendants was lynched by a mob at the county jail. Two remaining defendants, aged 16 and 17, were hanged after being found guilty and sentenced to death by an all-White jury. This resulted in a large civil conflict throughout the town and led to all Black citizens being forced out of the area by racist Whites. Their property, if it had not been destroyed, went to White citizens without the legal transfer of title.
In 1987, just five months after beginning her show, Oprah visited Forsyth County. The area was embroiled in another racial conflict with several racial demonstrations from both activists and the KKK. Oprah released the full segment in 2015 and it paints a startling portrait of it’s denizens.
“She’s not moving”
Tamla Horsford, 40, was found dead at an overnight birthday party at the home of a Cumming, Georgia resident. The boyfriend of the host, Jose Barrera, said he believed she fell off the balcony during the night. He placed the call to 911 dispatchers after finding her and noted a small cut on her wrist, careful to say he didn’t know if it was self-inflicted. Now, it has been uncovered that Jose Barrera has been fired from his position as a Pre-Trial Services Officer after accessing documents related to the death of Tamla.
Along with the possibility of court documents being tampered with, Tamla’s close friend Michelle Graves says she has been threatened for asking questions. The coroner’s death certificate states that Tamla’s cause of death was “acute ethanol intoxication” and multiple blunt force injuries. However, Tamla’s family hired another medical examiner who found extensive injuries across her body. Michelle affirms “it’s impossible to get the injuries that she had from one fall.”
As of now, the attorney for the home owner released a statement to the WSB news insisting they are cooperating with law enforcement officers. The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office says they expect to have answers from Tamla’s toxicology report soon and “extend their deepest sympathy to Mrs. Horsford’s family and friends for this tragic loss.”
High School Students Stage Sit-In Protest Against Racism
In response to how school faculty have handled a racist video, students of Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx have staged an overnight-sit-in protest. Dissatisfied with faculty’s response to demands to address racism on the school’s campus, students have rallied and locked staff out of the administration building until they reached an agreement.
Outrage Lead to Action
More than 200 high school students of the K-12 academy occupied the building to demand action. They were outraged by the response to a video which featured White students counting down before blurting racist, homophobic, and misogynistic slurs. The video gained attention after circulating Twitter and eventually being reported on by The New York Times. However, school administrative officials did the bare minimum by only condemning the video without stating a plan for disciplinary action. Knowing only one of the students involved had withdrawn from the exclusive academy, students developed a plan to hold staff accountable. Thus, Students of Color Matter was born.
The standoff between students and staff lasted for 72 hours before an agreement was met. Each day the students, who developed a Twitter, Instagram, and petition, posted demands to their accounts. March 11th, the students began with a statement on Instagram:
“We are here today in light of recent events imploring those who desire to see out institution more forward to stand in solidarity with the students of color and white allies of the Ethical Culture Fieldston Community. Today a lockout will take place in the administration building (the 200s) as a means to force our administration to acknowledge the concerns we’ve been bringing to their attention over the past several years”
After outlining the reason for their cause, Students of Color Matter organizers detailed updates as well as their demands.
All or Nothing
The administration was sent an email by students which resulted in the head of the school, Jessica Bagby, alerting parents and students that “Fieldston campus will operate on a normal schedule.” The students also integrated a hashtag, which added pressure due to its discovery by major media sources. Despite the non-violent protest, there were two physical altercations which involved a history teacher and a parent attempting to enter the closed facility. Jessica Bagby’s inadequate response to the students’ demands and inability to commit to change is what ultimately caused the 72-hour standoff.
As of March13th, the students had roughly 3,000 signatures on their petition. Housed on their Students of Color Matter website, the organization calls for the following:
The use of racist and bigoted language are symptoms of systemic and institutional racism that plague educational institutions across the country. For this reason, we command the implementation of structural reform, such as long term curriculum changes, the admittance of more students and faculty of color, and racial sensitivity training for all community members.”
Jaden Smith Brings Mobile Water Filtration System to Flint
Flint, Michigan has been ravaged by a bad city-wide deal that resulted in tainted water for nearly five years. Now, Jaden Smith’s startup may provide a solution to the city’s needs water needs.
Called “The Water Box”, Jaden’s mobile water filtration device was unveiled in Flint at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church. Able to produce 10 gallons of clean drinking water per minute, the actor-rapper turned philanthropist hopes the invention will help the community. Housed within the church, which previously distributed over 5 million bottles of water to the community, residents will be able to fill any container of their choice with clean water. However, they are required to do so during distribution times.
After Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ended the free bottled water program initiated by the state, Jaden and crew stepped up through JUST Water. JUST Water is a company that Jaden Smith became a partner of at just 12 years old. The company, which “combines for-profit energy and non-profit motives,” began from a desire to develop a filtration system to benefit poorer areas and nations. Making clean water more accessible, the company first launched in August 2018 in the UK.
Speaking about his community effort, Jaded remarked, “This has been one of the most rewarding and educational experiences for me personally. He added,” Working together with people in the community experiencing the problems and designing something to help them has been a journey I will never forget.” Jaden Smith plans to continue deploying more filtration systems across the city to benefit those in need and looks forward to aiding more places experiencing similar issues.
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