An event held Wednesday at a local church promoting black mayoral candidates in Savannah, Georgia, reportedly banned white reporters from entering and covering the event, going so far as to post a sign on the church doors declaring the affair was open to “black press only.”
According to the Savannah Morning News, white reporters were actively kept from entering the church, while black members of the press and other attendees, including numerous current and former black politicians, were welcomed in.
At a campaign event in Savannah, GA signs permitting "black press only" were posted at Bolten Street Baptist Church. The event featured 2 of the 3 black candidates for Mayor. Current Mayor Eddie DeLoach is the cities first white mayor in 20 years. #GaPol https://t.co/XLxIiNCp5f pic.twitter.com/TTEWl3RoKF— Robert Jimison (@RobertJimison) March 28, 2019
The Savannah Morning News reports:
With signs stating “Black press only” on the doors of the church where the meeting was held, white reporters were barred from entry, while black reporters for at least two television stations were permitted inside.
…While notes were allowed, photos, video and audio recordings were prohibited during the event, according to Stephen Moody, an African-American reporter with WJCL who was allowed entry. Another reporter from WSAV who attended the meeting was told she could stay because she was black, Moody said.
The Savannah Morning News adds that Rev. Clarence Teddy Williams, owner of consulting firm The Trigon Group and the organizer of the event, refused to discuss the blacks-only policy with the media.
Apparently, the racist policy wasn’t enough to deter many people, including even some politicians, from attending the meeting anyway. The Savannah Morning News reports that Shirley James, the African-American publisher of the black-owned Savannah Tribune, was seen at the meeting.
At least two other potential mayoral candidates spoke at the meeting, including Louis Wilson, who later said he wouldn’t comment on the discrimination policy. Savannah Alderman Van Johnson, who has also said he plans to run for mayor, reportedly admitted he was OK with the organizers’ decision to ban whites from the event, saying he believed people have the right to assemble and determine the rules of their assembly.
“It’s not my meeting,” he told the press. “I was asked to come and give a statement, so I came and I gave a statement.”
Another Savannah alderman, Estella Shabazz, also attended the meeting, but refused to comment on the no-whites policy.Former Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson and Chatham County Commissioner Chester Ellis also attended but declined to discuss the rule.