In the southern Georgia town of Camilla, government-sanctioned segregation is not a thing of the past.
The city council of Camilla voted unanimously to deny the first ever African-American mayor—Rufus Davis—the keys to City Hall after he won election in 2015.
In response, Davis has decided to boycott his post, refusing to sit in council meetings until Camilla is desegregated.
The rejection of Davis, it turns out, is but one thread in a thick weave of discrimination and segregation at the heart of Camilla.
After taking issue with the lack of black city employees, Davis, with a team of 15 attorneys, went to City Hall and demanded records of employees, contracts and procurement practices.
The council had previously denied him these documents, but in the presence of attorneys and cameras, suddenly the council had no problem complying. The documents are now under review by civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump’s firm.
Davis says if the council does not jumpstart a plan for racial inclusion, his next step is filing a lawsuit against them.
According to reports, Camilla has kept the city cemetery divided by race for almost a hundred years. When Davis pointed this out, City Manager Bennett Adams, who is white, insisted it was just a coincidence that the graves of African-American residents and white residents were separated by a wire fence.
If it was such a harmless coincidence, why did he scramble to secretly take down the cemetery fence? By acting furtively, Adams also tried to rob the community of the chance to celebrate this small victory for integration.
Still, community members and civil rights activists managed to come together to commemorate the action.
“It was my hope that we could have worked together, bringing the community together — both black and white — to partake in a cathartic exercise, removing this ugly symbol of segregation and unifying our community. Unfortunately, the city did not give us advance notice,” the mayor said in a statement. “However, at the end of the day, I am happy to see the fence coming down.”
There’s more. In a town with a population that is 70 percent African-American, Davis pointed out that there are no African-American police officers.
Of course, Adams claimed this was a coincidence too. He supposedly had not been able to find any qualified African-American officers in the past, but once Davis exposed this inequality, Adams found and hired a qualified African-American officer within a few weeks.
While council members and Adams continue to try to make excuses for their glaring racism, Davis has pledged to fight the until his city is desegregated.