A new mayor in Georgia vowed during his election campaign to be for the people, and now he’s walking the walk. Using lowercase letters in his name per Yoruba tradition, khalid kamau was sworn in on Jan. 4 as mayor of South Fulton.
The city of South Fulton is part of the Atlanta metro area in Fulton County, Georgia. Kamau didn’t move into the mayor’s mansion but instead into a deteriorating apartment rental complex called Camelot.
Cities in Fulton County include Union City, College Park and Fairburn. With a 92 percent African-American population, South Fulton is officially the blackest city in America, according to the mayor’s website.
Built in the 1970s, Camelot Condominiums have deteriorated and have a reputation for crime, squatters, and fires, Fox 5 Atlanta reported.
The building is known to be dangerous. Often referred to as “The Trenches,” Camelot has been the site of several police raids and shootings, including a deadly shooting last summer that resulted in three deaths, CBS46 reported.
A former councilman and a Democratic Socialist, Kamau said moving into the crime-plagued complex is not a publicity stunt. Instead, he wants to live there every night for a year so he can have first-hand experience of what his constituents go through.
“I come from the movement of Black lives and the nonviolent student committee; we believe you must live amongst people to understand them, so it is not a stunt but a principle,” the mayor told Fox 5 Atlanta.
Kamau said he initially considered pushing to have the complex demolished and rebuilt but changed his mind while on the campaign trail in 2020.
“I have visited homes in Camelot and seen black mold on the wall. Some of these places need to be condemned,” he said during a South Fulton Coalition Town Hall last year.
“There was an outcry from the legacy homeowners. A couple of residents said ‘I love my house, I do not want to lose it.’ So I decided to move in before I make a final decision,” Kamau said.
The mayor signed a one-year lease and will pay $800 per month for his one-bedroom apartment.
“I hope it brings attention to Camelot, and it brings development dollars to our city,” he said.
Kamau said he plans to live in his apartment every night for a year.
Twitter was impressed with the mayor’s decision.
“New Mayor-elect of South Fulton keeps his promise to move into a troubled apartment complex. Residents believe the move is sincere, not a stunt. I love this story,” William Case (@williamcaseatl) tweeted.
“Mayor khalid just moved to the most dilapidated complex in S. Fulton— Yes, the mayor’s mansion is a one bedroom apt in the hood. Love to see it!” tweeted Racism is the System (@DannyDGlover)
The new mayor formerly worked as a Black Lives Matter organizer, dropping out of law school in 2015 to help form the organization’s Atlanta chapter, according to My Home Rule News.
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Photo of Khalid Kamau: www.khalidcares.com. Photo of Camelot Condominiums: Apartments.com
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