Former Georgia city official drops N-word while pushing for Confederate History Month

Griffin, Georgia, a small city about 38 miles south of Atlanta, is proud of its Southern heritage.Every year s...

Posted: Apr 6, 2018 12:39 PM
Updated: Apr 6, 2018 12:39 PM

Griffin, Georgia, a small city about 38 miles south of Atlanta, is proud of its Southern heritage.

Every year since at least 2010, the city has passed a proclamation designating April as Confederate History Month, city commissioner Douglas Hollberg told CNN. It's not an unusual occurrence in the South, where Confederate Memorial Day is still officially and unofficially observed in a handful of places.

But when the issue came up again at a recent Griffin city meeting, things did not go well.

A former city commissioner, speaking out as a resident in favor of the proclamation, used a racial slur three times -- offending an African-American member of the commission who opposed the measure.

And now a video of the meeting, including the exchange between the two men, has blown up online -- a reminder of the way racism continues to be on display in the South at a time when many places are removing Confederate memorials from public view.

Griffin's 23,000 residents are split roughly equally between whites and blacks, according to census data.

The March 27 meeting went quickly downhill after former city commissioner Larry Johnson, who is white, got up to speak during the public comments section. Addressing his comments mostly to current city commissioner Rodney McCord, who is black, Johnson began talking about the city's history.

"There were white folks. There were black folks when I was growing up," Johnson said. "There was white trash - my family. There was n-----town. I lived next to n-----town."

"You lived next to what town?" asked McCord.

"N-----town, son!" Johnson replied. "I'm telling you that I've changed. I'm no longer white trash. And they're no longer called that."

After a brief interruption by McCord and another commissioner, Johnson continued.

"Now, if that's offensive, I apologize for being offensive," he said. "I don't use that word anymore."

"You just used it," responded McCord, one of three African Americans on the city's seven-member commission.

Visibly upset, McCord responded a few moments later.

"Maybe y'all are comfortable with that, I don't know," he told the gathering. "I'm not going to sit here and let this man use that type of language. If no one else is offended, then I am."

Earlier in the evening, and prior to the heated exchange, the city commission voted to approved the Confederate History month proclamation.

Contacted this week by CNN, McCord said he's never experienced anything like that meeting in his 24 years in the city. He's voted repeatedly against the Confederate History Month proclamation since he's been a city commissioner, he added.

"I don't understand why, in 2018, we're still talking about the Confederates," McCord said. "How should I, as a black person, celebrate that?"

As for Johnson, he told CNN he felt remorse about the outrage over his comments and that he was just trying to make a point about a previous time in his life.

"In doing so, I used words familiar back then," he said. "But I was interrupted and did not get to say, 'But we no longer use those words today and the world is a better place.'"

Johnson also said he would not personally apologize to McCord until McCord apologized for interrupting him.

Since the incident, Hollberg told CNN he's spoken to the NAACP about Johnson's comments.

It reads, in part: "...the month of April of each year is hereby designated as Confederate History and Heritage Month and shall be set aside to honor, observe, and celebrate the Confederate States of America, its history, those who served in its armed forces and government, and all those millions of its citizens of various races and ethnic groups and religions who contributed in sundry and myriad ways to the cause which they held so dear from its founding ..."

Click to Submit Photo

 

 

Huntsville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Florence
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 67°
Fayetteville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 66°
Scottsboro
Overcast
61° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 61°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 154942

Reported Deaths: 2660
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22720374
Mobile14405314
Tuscaloosa10066137
Montgomery9820196
Madison907894
Shelby715361
Lee646165
Baldwin644369
Marshall431048
Calhoun416059
Etowah412249
Morgan400033
Houston365532
DeKalb325428
Elmore312852
St. Clair283842
Limestone273630
Walker269993
Talladega259135
Cullman231024
Lauderdale212540
Jackson205515
Autauga202130
Franklin201731
Colbert193330
Russell19053
Blount187325
Dallas186027
Chilton182632
Escambia171428
Coffee16829
Covington166629
Dale163851
Chambers133043
Pike131313
Tallapoosa129587
Clarke127317
Marion105029
Butler99840
Barbour9969
Marengo98222
Winston90613
Geneva8447
Lawrence81131
Pickens81117
Randolph80514
Bibb80114
Hale74830
Cherokee72314
Clay72212
Lowndes70228
Henry6386
Bullock63717
Monroe63610
Washington62312
Crenshaw59830
Perry5816
Wilcox55912
Fayette55713
Conecuh55613
Cleburne5327
Macon53020
Sumter46821
Lamar4595
Choctaw38712
Greene34016
Coosa1993
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 235861

Reported Deaths: 2970
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby34739553
Davidson30155328
Knox1208187
Hamilton11289104
Rutherford11165107
Williamson670751
Sumner5715107
Wilson445553
Putnam423054
Montgomery393351
Out of TN376135
Unassigned37554
Madison366579
Bradley344722
Sullivan332146
Sevier322421
Washington318244
Blount317032
Maury311236
Robertson251040
Hamblen236543
Tipton223522
Gibson207838
Dyer207126
Hardeman180432
Coffee178320
Trousdale17447
Obion166420
Bedford160620
Anderson159613
Fayette159622
Dickson159119
Greene157551
Wayne15697
Loudon156610
McMinn154232
Cumberland153624
Lawrence150518
Jefferson148320
Weakley145325
Carter143932
Monroe138227
Henderson137325
Warren136810
Lauderdale134517
Hardin133619
Macon126924
Franklin123416
Roane12247
Haywood120026
Overton115211
White112214
Hawkins111724
Johnson11157
Carroll110724
McNairy109626
Marshall10638
Rhea105916
Bledsoe9944
Cheatham98211
Lake9763
Smith95412
Cocke95212
Giles91134
Campbell8997
Fentress8698
Lincoln8302
Crockett80221
Henry75310
Hickman74513
Chester71514
Marion7159
DeKalb68616
Decatur64511
Grainger5464
Grundy52510
Union5142
Claiborne5066
Polk47613
Jackson4225
Humphreys4194
Morgan4167
Benton3969
Houston39215
Cannon3902
Clay37913
Unicoi3732
Lewis3582
Scott3444
Sequatchie3304
Stewart3128
Meigs2975
Perry2531
Pickett2505
Moore2492
Van Buren1951
Hancock1123

Community Events