According to census data, the city of Hoschton, Georgia is 84.6 percent white and only 3.5 percent black.
Now the city is making unsavory headlines after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the search for a city administrator turned sour after Mayor Theresa Kenerly removed a candidate for consideration because:
“…he is black, and the city isn’t ready for this.”
The mayor of Hoschton, a nearly all-white community 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, allegedly withheld a job candidate from consideration for city administrator because he was black, an AJC investigation has found. https://t.co/VKeyC2Wsaz
— Gwinnett County News (@GwinnettNewsNow) May 6, 2019
Kenerly reportedly told a member of the city council that she removed Keith Henry, who is black, for consideration because of his skin color.
Kenerly proved evasive when questioned by reporters, saying that she:
“…can’t say I said it or not said it.”
She added that she could not comment on things that happened during executive sessions.
Kenerly did, however later release an official statement addressing the controversy:
“I do not recall making the statement attributed to me regarding any applicant for the City Administrator position. I deny that I made any statement that suggest (sic) prejudice.”
Councilwoman Hope Weeks has disputed Kenerly’s account, saying that she made the remarks during an executive session as well as in the parking lot:
“She proceeded to tell me that the candidate was real good but he was black and we don’t have a big black population. And she just didn’t think Hoschton was ready for that.”
But if you think Kenerly’s comments are bad, then you don’t want to know what Councilman Jim Cleveland said.
When asked about the report, Cleveland said he understood the basis for Kenerly’s remarks because Hoschton “is not Atlanta.”
“I understand Theresa saying that, simply because we’re not Atlanta. Things are different here than they are 50 miles down the road.”
Cleveland revealed he’d also ranked Keith Henry last in the hiring pool, though he says he did so because Henry did not arrive for an in-person interview.
He then made a rather absurd comment about racial-mixing, which he claims goes against his Christian faith.
“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…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.”
Cleveland later tried to clarify his comments at a town hall where many demanded his and Kenerly’s resignations.
Hoschton, GA Councilman Jim Cleveland defending his unprompted comments on interracial marriage after a town hall (via Sharon Diane on Facebook): @CNN @andersoncooper @ajc @stacyabrams pic.twitter.com/5bddw4n6gb
— savannah (@shortvanburen) May 7, 2019
As you can imagine, none of this is going over particularly well on social media.
Shoutout to the two ladies on the Hoschton city council who heard racist comments and did not let them pass without taking action to prevent further harm. We need more people willing to risk criticism and comfort in order to confront the harsh realities of racism.
— Kathryn Freeman (@KathrynAnnette) May 6, 2019
This is disgusting and made 10000x worse by the fact that a city councilor in the story DOESN’T BELIEVE IN INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE. 1/10 of Hoschton is nonwhite, and that’s likely to grow. That’s at least 1/10 of a city that can’t trust its leaders to look out for them. https://t.co/UkKq72ytVe
— Caitlin Highland (@caitlinbh14) May 6, 2019
This is Mayor Theresa Kenerly of Hoschton, GA. 50 miles outside of Atlanta. Doesn’t think her town is “ready” for a black city manager. (And is denying it, even though, not to be a bitch, I can tell she’s racist immediately from the hair) pic.twitter.com/u0SsYJybGr
— Hannah Riley (@hannahcrileyy) May 6, 2019
"Hoschton Mayor pulled the resume of Keith Henry “because he is black, and the city isn’t ready for this”
She must resign!!!
— X͟͟L͟͟V͟͟2P͟͟R͟͟I͟͟S͟͟O͟͟N͟͟ (@XLV2PRISON) May 6, 2019
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made racial discrimination in hiring a violation of federal law.
Hoschton City Hall did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.