Mayor of Camilla GA to Speak Sunday at Renaissance Unity

Mayor of Camilla GA to Speak Sunday March 4 at Renaissance Unity

Warren, MI, Camilla, GA –  Rufus Davis is the Mayor of Camilla, Georgia.  He will be speaking as part of the Sunday March 4 program at Renaissance Unity in Warren, sharing his experience with institutional racism in his hometown.

In a city with 5,000 people, with a 70% black population, Davis said “inequality is so ingrained that people don’t even realize it exists.”

Davis grew up in Camilla, but left at the age of 18 to see the world.  He came to the University of Michigan before going to school in the Netherlands.  He married a woman from the Czech Republic and lived in Russia and Lithuania. He’s traveled to over 53 countries, many of which were part of his work with nonprofits and institutions strengthening democracy and human rights.  “I’ve been part of improving communities and living standards around the world,” Mayor Davis said.  “When I came back to my own community, over 25 years after I left, I was very much shocked.  I was bumping into the same things, but I was shocked they were happening here in America.”

Davis moved to Camilla to be near his aging mother, but instead he was inspired to run for office.

Among his concerns are that the city-owned cemetery has a side for blacks and whites (which is not in official policy, but is in practice), that black students go to public school while white students go to a charter school, that white employees outnumber black ones in the city government, and that when he asked for the keys to City Hall he was denied.  With a City Manager form of government, the City Manager runs the city with oversight by the council, and no Mayor had requested keys before Davis.  Davis asked for the matter to be put to a vote, and was denied.  The Council has four black officials and three white ones, but Davis said the black ones “are so used to the status quo they don’t see what is wrong… When a condition is so normalized they don’t know that it is an anomaly.”

He gave an example of how social norms change, and how they start with speaking against a currently accepted norm.  “There was a time when people would get on airplane and the plane was full of smoke from people smoking in their seats.  We think that’s disgusting now, but that was the norm.  And if anyone ever complained, they were the ones who would be criticized.”

Social changes happened in a similar way, with people standing up for injustice and facing the push-back.  Davis will be talking about that when he visits Renaissance Unity on Sunday.

Though Davis is “not particularly religious,” he sees the Renaissance Unity as “people of good moral conscience,” and hopes that “sharing my story will inspire people in their community to confront the issues they face.”

Davis was also surprised to learn that members of Renaissance Unity had started a campaign of sending old keys to Camilla City Hall with a message to “Give the Mayor His Keys.”  He laughed when asked about it. “I had no idea that was happening.  The City Manager sure didn’t tell me about it,” he said.  “When I found out, I was so inspired by this community for having done that.”

Mayor Davis will speak as part of the Sunday morning service at Renaissance Unity, which begins at 10 am.  Renaissance Unity is located at 11200 E. 11 Mile Road, Warren, MI 48089.  More info: https://www.renaissanceunity.org/

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