A Discussion of ‘Heirs Property’ and Black Land Loss

March 29, 2023
3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
WherePurcell Reading Room
Sponsor(s)Program on Law, Communities and the Environment; Black Law Students Association

A panel of experts will address the intersection of “heirs property” and Black land loss, and describe how legal reformers are seeking to address the problem. “Heirs property” refers to land that has been passed down informally from generation to generation, often without written wills, which is now owned by cousins or more remote relatives, possibly of multiple generations. Divided ownership makes such property difficult to manage and often leads to land loss through forced sales. Black rural property ownership has been steadily shrinking since the turn of the 20th century.

The panelists are:

  • Lillian “Ebonie” Alexander, Executive Director, Black Family Land Trust
  • Karla D. Carter, Senior Counsel, Dominion Energy; Land Retention Advocate/Specialist on Heirs Property Issues
  • Karen Cohen, Partner, Gentry Locke Attorneys; Chair, Virginia State Bar Real Property Section
  • Andrew Kahrl, Professor of History and African American Studies, University of Virginia; Author, “The Land Was Ours: How Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South”
  • Mikayla Mangle, 2022-24 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Center for Heirs Property Preservation