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“Black Press Only”: White Media Turned Away From Black Mayoral Event At Georgia Baptist Church

March 30, 2019

The signs were clear to everyone, posted as they were on the front door of the Bolton Street Baptist Church in Savannah, GA on Wednesday. Their message? “Black Press Only.”

Savannah, dubbed the “Hostess of the South” for its well-known hospitality and its integrated and racially diverse community, is now, in the words of its current white mayor, Eddie DeLoach, “a national embarrassment.”

The signs were posted to limit access to a mayoral candidates’ event where the city’s three black mayoral candidates could meet with black constituents. News media personnel from around the city and state arrived to cover the event; the “non-black” journalists gathered on the sidewalk, however, were not allowed entry. Several black members of the press slipped by their non-white colleagues and entered.

All in attendance, according to other signs posted on the church’s doors, were further restricted from recording the meeting with anything other than a pen and notepad.

USA Today reports about 50 people attended the meeting, while SavannahNow reports that only two of the city’s three African-American mayoral candidates, city alderman Van Johnson and Louis Wilson, addressed the small crowd at the church. A former state senator, Regina Thomas, missed the gathering.

The host of the “Black Press Only” event, The Trigon Group, a “consulting” firm operated by Bolton Street Baptist Church pastor Rev. Clarence Teddy Williams, has not responded to press requests for comment about the race-based press restrictions.

SavannahNow also reports that three Democratic Party state legislators Friday condemned the “Black Press Only” event from the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives. One of those men, an African-American, Rep. Al Williams, reportedly said the racially-divisive restrictions in the “Hostess City will not be tolerated.”

According to SavannahNow, Alderman Johnson, criticized by Mayor DeLoach for taking part in the meeting, issued an apology for attending it. 

“I know certainly that if this was an event that was held and excluded other folks, then I know I would be one of the first ones to be outraged about it. And this outrage would be understandable and it would be justified,” he said at a press conference held on a Savannah public square, SavannahNow reports.

In his public statement, recorded by WSAV, Mayor Eddie DeLoach stated that

“For all those that have called, emailed, and texted my office from all walks of life, I want to assure you this is not who we are in Savannah. We will continue to be open to everyone and I will not sacrifice my principles for political gain.”

 

 

 

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