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An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

A cemetery fence separating black and white dead comes down in south Georgia


We begin this MLK weekend with some lines from the Tallahassee, Fla., Democrat:

A fence that separated whites and blacks in their final resting place in Camilla, Georgia, was removed Thursday.

City officials removed the fence from the city-owned cemetery. Camilla Mayor Rufus Davis called on civil rights attorney Ben Crump in December amid an ongoing battle with city officials over “segregationist practices.”

"For at least 85 years, the African-Americans in Camilla have been trying to get this fence of segregation taken down," Crump said in a statement. "Finally, today, in the spirit of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the people have prevailed in making sure that this demarcation separating black people from white people in the city-owned cemetery is no more.”

Camilla is an hour drive from Tallahassee, with a population just over 5,000. Some 70 percent of residents are African-American. The town is closer to Valdosta and Albany, but we’ve seen no reports on this from newspapers there.

A statement sent to us from Mayor King indicates the decision to bring the fence down may have been a reluctant one:

“It’s a day of mixed emotions for me; I am happy to see this fence — which is a powerful symbol of segregation — come down. Earlier today, Attorney Ben Crump demanded immediate movement on this, and as a result a crew was sent out to dismantle the fence.

“It was my hope that we could have worked together, bringing the community together — both black and white — to partake in a cathartic exercise, removing this ugly symbol of segregation and unifying our community. Unfortunately, the city did not give us advance notice. However, at the end of the day, I am happy to see the fence coming down.

“Although this symbol is being removed, it has not desegregated our cemetery nor has it removed the discrimination that is still alive today in Camilla. We will continue to take steps forward to integrate our city government in terms of police officers, jobs at City Hall, our workforce and more.”

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In today’s Tweets, President Donald Trump denied comparing African countries and Haiti to primative latrines – and dismissed a bipartisan attempt at compromise over the children of illegal immigrants. Tweet One:


And Tweet Two:


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U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., was in the room with President Trump when the remarks were made. From The Hill newspaper:

“In the course of his comments, [Trump] said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist,” Durbin told reporters on Friday. “I cannot believe in this history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.”

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We noted that David Perdue was absent from the Senate on Thursday morning as the chamber voted to confirm Trump’s first Georgia-based federal judge. Turns out the state’s junior senator was at the White House, huddling with President Donald Trump and other key lawmakers on immigration.

When Perdue met with reporters afterwards, news about the language Trump used had not hit the internet yet, so we don’t have the senator’s thoughts on the topic.

Instead, Perdue said he was invited to “stand firm” with Trump as other senators pitched a new bipartisan agreement on Dreamers, border security and legal immigration programs.

The White House didn’t bite on that proposal, and neither did Perdue. The freshman Republican said it didn’t adequately address chain migration, or the process by which U.S. citizens can bring family members to the U.S. by sponsoring them. It was a key tenet of his own legal immigration bill introduced last year.

“Any solution to the DACA situation has got to include an end to chain migration,” Perdue said. But he also added, “I’m very encouraged by the continuing movement in the right direction to get this thing done.”

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Several Augusta media outlets report this morning that former congressman Doug Barnard Jr. has died at age 95 after a long illness. From the Chronicle:

A successful banker, Barnard became the first U.S. Congressman from Augusta in 72 years when he beat south Augusta politician Mike Padgett for the post in 1977. Barnard served eight terms before stepping down in 1993.

Barnard was a close associate of Gov. Carl Sanders, who died in 2014.

From U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Augusta, who now holds that seat:

He was a mentor, a friend and a statesman. He was always willing to work across the aisle to do what was best for the people of Augusta. Over the years I have sought his advice, and while he will always be remembered, he will be missed – not only by me, but by the entire Augusta community.”

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Fundraising disclosures for Georgia’s statewide candidates aren’t due for another month. But Attorney General Chris Carr wants to send a message with his latest figures.

Carr’s campaign jumped the gun Friday and announced that the Republican has raised more than $1 million, with more than half of it collected in the last six months. He will report about $700,000 cash on hand.

Carr has sought to build his campaign warchest to scare off potential opponents since he was appointed Georgia’s top lawyer in 2016 by Gov. Nathan Deal. And so far it has worked: No major rival, Democratic or Republican, has sought to challenge him.

In fact, two of his biggest would-be adversaries are squaring off against each other – for a different seat. Republican state Sen. Josh McKoon and Democratic ex-U.S. Rep. John Barrow, both attorneys who considered bids for attorney general, are instead running for an open secretary of state seat.

Carr’s tried to build his profile with campaigns targeting human trafficking, elder abuse and drug addiction. He’s also on the executive committee of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

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A controversial amendment to a bill renewing the government’s online surveillance program divided Georgia’s House delegation on Capitol Hill. The House rejected 183-233 a bipartisan proposal that would have required the feds to seek warrants before sifting through surveillance data on American citizens if it’s swept up while the U.S. is spying on foreigners. The conservative House Freedom Caucus came out in favor of the proposal, as did liberal and civil liberties groups.

 Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk, perhaps the delegation’s most conservative members, voted in favor of the amendment, as did Lawrenceville Republican Rob Woodall. After that provision failed, Hice and Woodall backed the underlying bill because they said it offered more protections than current law. Albany Democrat Sanford Bishop, meanwhile, was among 55 Democrats to vote against the proposal, but a spokesman did not provide details as to why.

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U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson has never been a fan of the Republican tax plan, and he plans to prove it this weekend. The Lithonia Democrat announced plans to hold a “tax teach-in” with academics and liberal groups in Lilburn this weekend to “communicate to constituents what the GOP tax plan means to families, and what it means for jobs and economic growth.” We have a feeling they won’t have the most positive things to say.

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A University of Georgia philosophy professor is launching a bid this weekend to challenge Monroe GOP Congressman Jody Hice. Richard Dien Winfield will run on a platform of “guaranteed jobs, fair wages, and employee empowerment,” he campaign said. Winfield will kickoff his campaign Saturday afternoon in Athens. Winfield joins a field that already includes two Democrats, an Independent and a Republican challenger. Hice didn’t face any opponents for reelection in 2016.

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Kennesaw State University announced Thursday that it has upgraded its Department of Political Science and International Affairs. It will now be known as the School of Government and International Affairs, “increasing emphasis on experiential learning, government service, public policy and research.”

It will also include the A. L. Burruss Institute for Public Service and Research, which has provided survey research, program evaluation and other services for state and local governments, nonprofits and public-sector organizations for more than 25 years.

Political scientist Kerwin Swint will serve as the new school’s director.


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