Although our nation has made much progress when it comes to race relations, the injustices facing Black people are still very much prevalent. Yet, after a White man in Hapeville City, Georgia, was directly impacted by community racism, he made a giant effort to change things.
Joshua McArthur Patton, the owner of a nightclub, has been desperately trying to acquire his liquor license. However, he believed that the process was held up because he catered mostly to African-Americans
Instead of letting his neighborhood officials enact blatant racism to keep Black people out, he decided to put them on blast.
Patton created a 4-by-8-foot sign that had the names of the mayor and city council with a message that read, “These people don’t want Black people in Hapeville.”
The nightclub has in the past had rappers such as Young Jeezy and TV personalities from Real Housewives of Atlanta.
“I’ve never caused the city of Hapeville no problems,” Patton told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Patton said he was only able to keep his club open for two months in 2015 until it was shut down. He also said that the city had approved over 200 licenses and he was the only one to ever get denied.
The sign garnered much public attention and scrutiny. When officials were made aware of the list, they insisted that race played no part in his license denial.
City Manager William Whitson said the “health, safety and community would not be well-served” if the city gave Patton a liquor license. He said there were concerns about safety.
“This gentleman was trying to embarrass the city into giving him an alcohol license,” Whitson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday. “It’s unfortunate Mr. Patton has chosen to exercise his First Amendment rights in this distasteful way. But we respect his right do so.”
Whitson also disputed Patton’s claims of racial prejudice saying the city has a diverse population.
Whitson, along with 17 other names, appears on the sign.
(Photo: Chris Crocker / EyeEm/Getty Images)