HOSCHTON, Ga. — The small town of Hoschton, Georgia has become a hot spot of national outrage after the town’s mayor and city councilmember allegedly said the town “wasn’t ready” for a black city administrator – and the NAACP is investigating.
"(The mayor's) alleged language smacks of old Georgia where for centuries, people of African descent were refused access to opportunities of which they were qualified and sometimes overqualified, due to a legalized system of white supremacy,” said Phyllis Black, president of the NAACP Georgia State Conference. “This way of thinking and language has no place in the 21st Century.”
Many are demanding Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly and city councilman Jim Cleveland to resign after they made the alleged comments to fellow councilmembers. Kenerly “doesn’t recall saying that,” according to the Associated Press.
Cleveland is also under scrutiny for reportedly saying that he is against interracial marriage due to his Christian beliefs, the Associated Press reported, citing a local news outlet.
The NAACP said in a statement that it is investigating the alleged racist remarks and any possible civil rights violations associated with Hoschton’s hiring process.
“We’ve seen this type of methodology destroyed by President Barack Obama who served as leader in chief of a majority white nation, it's utter insanity to somehow assume a highly qualified African-American candidate would somehow not be able to serve as administrator of a small Georgia city,” Blake said. “Someone needs to remind the Mayor ‘it’s 2019, not 1919.’”
Kenerly and Cleveland have not responded to 11Alive’s repeated requests for comment. In a statement to the Associated Press, Cleveland said he is praying about the decision, though he said some townspeople have urged him to stay on.
On Wednesday night, community members held a prayer vigil and said those comments do not represent their town.
Shantwon Astin told 11Alive’s Ryan Kruger that he has lived in the community for two years and this behavior shocks him.
“There hasn’t been a single time where someone treated me differently because of the color of my skin,” Astin said.
“To be honest with you, if they don’t resign, the healing can’t start,” another resident said.
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