According to an investigation by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the mayor of a city in Georgia barred a candidate for a spot on the City Council simply because he was black.
AJC found that Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly told a City Council member that she barred Keith Henry from being among the four finalists for the job of city administrator “because he is black, and the city isn’t ready for this.”
Hoschton, which is about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, is a nearly all-white community.
The mayor reportedly made her comments to a member of the council in an overheard whisper during a closed-door session of the council March 4. Councilwoman Hope Weeks said she repeated them to her in the parking lot after the meeting, according to a document released by the city in response to an open records request from the AJC.
Making this story even more disturbing were the words of Councilman Jim Cleveland, who defended the mayor while confirming “many aspects” of the story at the same time. According to Cleveland, Kenerly’s decision to block Henry from consideration wasn’t wrong.
“I understood where she was coming from,” he said. “I understand Theresa saying that, simply because we’re not Atlanta. Things are different here than they are 50 miles down the road.”
Cleveland went on to say that he was unsure how the predominantly white community would handle a black administrator, adding that Kenerly’s decision “might have been right.”
Cleveland told AJC that he had ranked Henry last among the four finalists, but his decision had nothing to do with Henry’s race. But when it comes to things like marriage, he said his Christian faith comes into play.
“I’m a Christian and my Christian beliefs are you don’t do interracial marriage. That’s the way I was brought up and that’s the way I believe,” he said. “I have black friends, I hired black people. But when it comes to all this stuff you see on TV, when you see blacks and whites together, it makes my blood boil because that’s just not the way a Christian is supposed to live.”
According to the Friendly Atheist‘s Hemant Mehta, Cleveland’s views are just “your old-fashioned Christian racism rearing its ugly head again.”
“What does interracial marriage even have to do with this situation?” Mehta writes. “Also, there’s no way this guy has black friends. There’s no way this guy has a black friend, singular. I want a name. Just one name. (Local reporters, please get on that.)”
Featured image: cityofhoschton.net