Rufus Davis, the mayor of Camilla, Georgia, recently spoke out about claims that pockets of segregation still exist in his city. The African-American leader has joined with a newly elected city councilman in threats to boycott city council meetings until “segregationalist practices” are dissolved, the mayor, who was reportedly denied keys to his own City Hall office, said in a news release. The alleged practices affect a little more than 5,000 residents, nearly 70 percent of whom are Black, the Miami Herald reported.
Several claims of segregation were pointed out by Davis. Charges include the separation of Blacks, who cannot be buried next to White people in city-operated cemeteries, and the absence of African-American officers on the city’s police force. Other indictments cover alleged discrimination within City Hall: all employees are White except three, and more than 97 percent of Blacks who apply for jobs are denied them. Davis also says that the majority of White students attend all-White private schools in the southern Georgia town, and most of the Black students have to attend public schools. The city is also “hyper-gerrymandered,” Davis added.
The dark picture painted by Davis shows a town that is split along racial lines and attitudes. Davis’ role has been dwindled down to that of mere figurehead, a leader in name only, he said in the release. Camilla’s White city manager holds more power in running operations.
“In my two years as mayor, every single recommendation that I have ever made, which is my role as mayor, has been rejected, except three,” Davis said to WAOK in a radio interview.
The most heinous claim by Davis addresses segregation at the town’s cemeteries. A man’s dead body was exhumed after it was discovered that he was biracial, Davis said, before his tenure as mayor started. The body was laid to rest on “the black side of the cemetery,” separated from the White side “by a fence,” he claimed. The practice has been quietly enforced for decades, he added.
Camilla’s City Manager Bennett Adams rebuffed several of Davis’ allegations. He said that the school statistics cited in Davis’ release leave out information, and he would love to increase the number of African-American police officers in Camilla.