Freedom of assembly doesn’t seem to be applied equally in the United States anymore.
And certainly not in Savannah, Georgia.
Signs at the door of a local church said “Black Press Only!”
The reason given for the racist prohibition was ‘unity,’ or so the organizers of the political meeting claimed.
Rev. Clarence Teddy Williams organized the Wednesday meeting at Bolton Street Baptist Church in Savannah, in order to unite the city’s black community behind a single candidate for mayor in the Nov. 5 election.
White reporters who tried to gain entry were prohibited. However, a number of black press personnel were admitted.
Recording devices including audio and video were also barred in the closed door gathering.
Mayor Eddie DeLoach is seeking re-election this fall after becoming Savannah’s first white mayor in 20 years in 2015.
Elections for Savannah’s top office are based on mob rule. All candidates who qualify are placed on the ballot and then it’s winner take all, something the founding fathers never envisioned for the republic.
Van Johnson, a Savannah city councilman and one of three black mayoral candidates to have announced campaigns attended the divisive gathering.
Johnson said afterward he relayed his “vision for an inclusive Savannah, a progressive Savannah.”
Not very inclusive to white people though, was it?
Asked by WTOC-TV about only black reporters being allowed inside, Johnson denied being involved “It’s not my meeting. Again, I was asked to come give a statement, and so I came and I gave a statement.”
So basically, he just sanctioned it with his presence.
Louis Wilson, another candidate, also attended the meeting.
However, Regina Thomas, a former Georgia state senator and one of the incumbent mayor’s black challengers, skipped it for two reasons. It conflicted with her usual Bible study meeting and it appeared divisive.
Former Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson declined to comment before going inside. So did Chatham County Commissioner Chester Ellis.
“This is not my idea,” Ellis said.
Again, so no one is to blame, but they all gave their approval by attending.
Savannah Alderman Estella Shabazz, who also attended, said she was a member of the black press, but wouldn’t comment on prohibiting white reporters.
Another reporter from WSAV was told she could stay because she was black, according to another reporter.
“Also distributed was an editorial in the black-owned Savannah Herald titled ‘United We Win, Divided We Lose’ that was written by former Mayor Otis Johnson.
“In the piece, Johnson called on the black population to organize itself to increase its influence over what happens in the community, starting with the mayor and council.”
“If we come together and decide what we want and who we believe will work best for us to get it, then we have a chance to advance,” he said.
Whatever happened to “Ask not what your country can do for you…?”
Apparently, it’s all for yourself now… at least, it is in Savannah.
Rev. Williams has declined to comment on his racist policy.
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