From its inception, Habitat for Humanity has been on the forefront of the social justice movement for racial equity. The very idea of Habitat was birthed out of an initiative called partnership housing started at Koinonia Farm. In 1942, years before the Civil Rights Act, Koinonia Farm was launched in deeply segregated rural Georgia as a racially integrated Christian community. At the time, it was a radical example of what equality and inclusivity could look like.
Early days on Koinonia Farm
Founder Clarence Jordan and the other leaders desired to create a place that was dedicated to non-racial fellowship where all people could live and work together as equals. The community thrived and supported themselves by farming and selling their produce. Habitat founders, Millard and Linda Fuller, arrived at Koinonia in 1965. Four years later, Millard and Clarence launched the idea of partnership housing, a model we still use today at Trinity Habitat through families investing sweat equity hours.
Clarence Jordan (left) and Millard Fuller (right)
Koinonia, while beloved by the residents of the farm, was detested by the surrounding community. The idea that white and black families lived alongside each other in shared community ignited fury against the farm. Millard speaks of this period of history in his book More Than Houses, “The surrounding white community did not appreciate this integrated group in their midst. So, in the late fifties, violence erupted against the farm. There were numerous shootings, bombings, burnings, and beatings of Koinonia people when they went to town. Many people at Koinonia could not take the intense pressure, so they left. Only a small remnant remained.” The remnant went on to create what we know today as Habitat for Humanity.
For more information on the origins of Koinonia Farm and Habitat, take time to watch the documentary Briars in the Cotton Patch.
The documentary is narrated by former Atlanta Mayor and US Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young. In the documentary, he states that, “America will always need briars like Koinonia to pierce our comfortable lifestyles and make us think carefully about where we are going. These briars in the cotton patch have successfully survived because, like it or not, we need them.”
Habitat continues Koinonia’s legacy of bringing people together. Despite our differences, we can all come together on a Habitat worksite to build together, get to know each other, and love thy neighbor.
“The Theology of the Hammer is about bringing a wide diversity of people, churches, schools, businesses, and other organizations together to build and renovate houses and establish viable, dynamic communities. It acknowledges that our political, philosophical, and theological differences exist, but we can all find common ground using the hammer as an instrument of God’s Love.” -Millard Fuller, Founder, Habitat for Humanity
During these challenging times, Habitat is Building Back from more than COVID 19! Racism and other beliefs that divide us are viruses, too. It is only with your support and by coming together that Trinity Habitat can continue to be a part of the solution.
There are many ways to get involved in our mission, and we invite you to pick just one from our List of Ways to Get Involved.