Coffee Co. Commission Accused of Racism

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Charges of racism were heard at Monday’s Coffee County Commission meeting. The publishers of a new minority owned newspaper feel they're being intentionally ignored by elected officials.

Six-months-ago, Hillard and Ann Hamm began publishing the Southeast Alabama Gazette.

The couple previously operated weekly papers in Michigan and California.

The couple has requested $1000 dollars from the Coffee County Commission for Black History Month advertising for the second straight time, however, the board did not take any action on the request.

Hillard Hamm said Monday, "Encouraging minority participation, we feel that is lacking. We may go that way. We are looking for the same respect given to the white media."

County Commissioner Bernest Brooks lashed out at fellow board members after his request for the ad died for lack of a second. "If we have problems giving a contract to a minority business, we need to put it on the table and discuss it. That’s all I’m asking."

County Commission Chairman, Jim Thompson, says racism has nothing to do with it. The commission doesn't advertise with any of the local newspapers. “In my opinion, we don't advertise with any newspaper. He took it as a racial thing. Folks may say I’m a lot of things, but racist is not one of them."

The Hamms' say the county has never awarded a contract to a minority-owned business.

The Hamms' say the Southeast Alabama Gazette already has a circulation of 4000 readers.

The couple plans to continue to voice their views at future Coffee County Commission meetings.