A Savannah alderman and mayoral candidate has issued an apology for attending a recent meeting that gained national attention for inviting “black media only.“
Alderman Van Johnson on Wednesday spoke at a community meeting held to discuss supporting just one African American candidate for Mayor of Savannah.
Members of the media who were not black were turned away from the meeting.
“While I had a responsibility to the people inside, I also had a responsibility to the people outside,“ Johnson said Friday. “I had this unique opportunity to be that bridge, to build communication and to encourage understanding, but on this singular occasion I did not perform as I always have.“
Over the past few days, the alderman has been criticized not attending. Many have questioned what action he would have taken “if the shoe was on the other foot.“
“I know certainly that if this was an that was held that excluded other folks then I’d know I’d be one of the first ones to be outraged,“ Johnson said.
He says he has learned from the experience and aims to address “the intolerance that still remains in our beloved community.“
Regina Thomas is the only other African American with an active campaign for the mayor’s race in Savannah. She was invited to the meeting but had a prior commitment at her church that evening.
Thomas told News 3 she thought a meeting about the race was premature and said her campaign will focus on “everybody’s vote.“