While racial discrimination has been largely outlawed throughout the country, a recent incident in Georgia has caught the attention of news outlets throughout the country. As reported by WNBC, several reporters were banned from attending a mayoral race meeting — based solely on the color of their skin.
Yesterday, in Savannah, Georgia, organizers of a meeting to discuss an upcoming mayoral election barred non-black reporters from attending. The meeting, which was held at the Bolton Street Baptist Church, was put together in an effort to unite the city’s black citizens and have the community focus on a single mayoral candidate for the upcoming November election. While reporters tried to attend the meeting, they were greeted by a sign at the church door, which said, “Black Press Only!” As Bakersfield, California, ABC affiliate ABC23 reports, other posted signs also prohibited audio and video recordings of the meeting.
According to WNBC, multiple Caucasian reporters were denied entry to the meeting. On the other hand, at least two black reporters and a publisher of a local African-American newspaper were permitted entrance. There have been no reports to indicate whether or not other racial minorities were allowed to attend. Rev. Clarence Teddy Williams, the man who organized the mayoral candidate meeting, declined the opportunity to explain or discuss the policy which prohibited non-black journalists from attending.
Unsurprisingly, news of the meeting spread quickly on social media, and a handful of Twitter users weighed in on the matter.
“Didn’t we end SEGREGATION a LONG time ago??” Chuck Callesto, a former Florida congressional candidate, wrote on Twitter.
Montgomery Granger, author of Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior, also took to social media to voice his opinion.
“Only black reporters allowed in Georgia mayoral race event – Look how far we’ve come! MLK turning in his GRAVE. #Merica,” Granger wrote on Twitter.
On the other hand, some didn’t take issue with the policy. Vince Coakley, a talk show radio host and former Republican nominee for Congress, seemed fine with the decision to ban certain reporters.
“No racism here. Move along. Nothing to see here,” Coakley wrote on Twitter.
For nearly 20 years, the majority black city of Savannah, Georgia, has elected an African-American mayor, though this trend was bucked in 2016 when Mayor Eddie DeLoach took office. The mayoral candidate meeting was attended by two of the three black mayoral candidates — Savannah Alderman Van Johnson and Louis Wilson. The third candidate, Regina Thomas, did not attend, as she found the circumstances to bee “too polarizing.”