If you think racial segregation is a relic of the past, a drive through any number of small towns in The Bible Belt will prove you wrong. In cities like Camilla, Georgia, where Rufus Davis serves as mayor, locally sanctioned segregation is very much alive and well. In protest of what he deems to be "widespread discriminatory and segregationist practices" within the city, Davis is voluntarily sitting out Camilla city council meetings.
On Thursday, Davis laid out the cause for his dissent in an interview with Atlanta radio host Rashad Richey. Camilla has a population just upward of 5,000 people and 70 percent of those citizens are African American. Despite its overwhelmingly black population, Davis says the town doesn't have a single black police officer and very few black employees at city hall. Even the schools are segregated, according to Davis.
So, how does the city get around the federal law prohibiting segregation in public schools? All the white children go to private academies while the black children attend public schools. According to Davis, this blatant racism is present even in death as blacks are buried in a poorly maintained area of the local cemetery, separate from whites. While the cemetery segregation is not written into city policy, it has been consistently practiced for decades.
Camilla Mayor Rufus Davis and community members protest what they call a segregated cemetery. Mayor Davis says the fence behind them separates where blacks and whites are buried. pic.twitter.com/oKPXX1PsLH— Alexandria Ikomoni (@AlexandriaWfxl) December 15, 2017
Calling attention to these blatant inequities has not made Davis popular with the city council members. In fact, the council voted not to give Davis the keys to his own office. While such ridiculous antics are alarming, they are not surprising to Davis who says the council has far too much power. "If the white council members had the authority to reinstitute slavery, one of them would probably make the motion and the other would second it," Davis told Richey in his radio interview.
In an interview with WTXL-27, city manager Bennet Adams disputed Davis' claims saying that anyone who pays the required fee can be buried in the cemetery regardless of race. Adams did not deny the lack of black police officers in the city but pointed out that there are non-black minorities who serve on the force.