Sedalia is a small town but it has been experiencing a great deal of drama in recent weeks – and that continued on Friday, April 29, when Calvin Atkins, the only remaining white person representing the town in an official capacity, resigned his seat on the Sedalia Planning Board.
Atkins said that he had been the victim of continued “hostility” from the black members of the board who “do not want any member of any other race to represent the town.”
The town of about 700 people is over 80 percent African American.
Atkins said he’s not aware of any other white men or women on any boards or commissions of the town. The mayor and Town Council members are black.
Calvin lives with former Town Councilmember Valerie Jones, who resigned from the Town Council in April citing constant antagonism she said she faced from the other members of the Sedalia Town Council. Jones is black, but said that, because she is living with a white man, the other council members did everything they could to drive her out of her seat.
Atkins said that, ever since he moved to Sedalia about eight years ago, he’d gone out of his way to be friendly and helpful to the town’s people and its leaders. He said he helped out at Founders Day celebrations and with projects at the Town Hall and did things like help council members change flat tires.
“I have always helped people in the Sedalia Town Hall,” he said, “I liked them, and, at first, they liked me.”
He said he wasn’t sure why things have changed so drastically in the past year or so, but he said he believes one factor is that more white people have been moving into town and there’s a fear among the town’s black leaders that a population shift may ultimately mean a loss of political power in the town.
The Sedalia Planning Board used to have another white member – Ed Piotrowski – but Piotrowski was voted out of that seat by the Town Council after he decided to run for a seat on the council last year.
“I think they wanted to get rid of me when they got rid of Ed,” Atkins said.
Atkins also said that, at meetings, the Planning Board chair would not recognize him when he had something to say, and, if he did try to speak up he would get shouted down. He said every time he opened his mouth, other members got extremely angry and frequently launched a barrage of insults. They also did not like it he said, when he tried to insist that the board follow its own by-laws.
When Jones resigned from her Sedalia Town Council seat, she told the Rhino Times that she was targeted by some town leaders because they didn’t like the fact that she was dating a white man – and also because she defended Piotrowski’s right to run for a Town Council seat even though he was white.