The Firm’s Sapelo Island case was featured during a 500-person plenary session at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Leadership Conference in Denver, Colorado on August 30, 2023. Sapelo Island resident Reginald Hall and Firm partner Reed Colfax joined HUD’s Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement Compliance Melody Taylor to discuss the background, outcome, and lessons learned from the case. The presentation featured a film about the case made by Georgia-based filmmaker Tabia Lisenbee-Parker, who captured the story of the Gullah Geechee community on Sapelo Island and its fight for equal treatment.

The litigation involved a federal court challenge to the failure of McIntosh County and the State of Georgia to provide equal services to the largest intact Gullah Geechee community in the country, which is on Sapelo Island. The Plaintiffs alleged that the County and State failed to provide adequate water, emergency medical, fire, road maintenance, trash, and accessible ferry services to members of the community. The affirmative litigation followed the firm’s successful state court challenges to exorbitant tax hikes of as much as 1000% in the space of a single year. At the conference, Mr. Hall emphasized how efforts by the community and firm to roll back the taxes and ensure that the state and county provide services has allowed the community to survive in the face of likely complete destruction.

The HUD attendees heard from Mr. Colfax about the resolution of the case, which included nearly $3 million to the Sapelo descendants; improvements to roads, ferry service, EMS equipment, fire safety measures, and trash service; and greater participation by Sapelo descendants in the governance of lands on the island.

Detailed information about the litigation is available here.


  • Sapelo Mini Documentary
    Sapelo Mini Documentary
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