Fence separating white from black in Camilla cemetery is removed

A fence that segregated Camilla, Ga.’s cemetery, with blacks buried on one side and whites on the other, was taken down Thursday after 85 years.

Camilla Mayor Rufus Davis, the city’s first African-American mayor, said the symbolism of the removal was important, as far as it went.

» Follow the AJC's coverage of race in Georgia

“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,” Davis said, according to a news release. “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.”

Tallahassee attorney Ben Crump, retained by the mayor last year, sent the city a letter in December demanding that the city remove the fence in 30 days or face a lawsuit, the Tallahassee Democrat reported at the time.

"For at least 85 years the African-Americans in Camilla have been trying to get this fence of segregation taken down,” Crump said on Thursday, according to the news release. “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 a city of about 5,300 south of Albany and about 50 miles north of  the Georgia-Florida border.

Return for updates.