The Troubled Juanita Wilson Speaks

editorials, May 2019

Juanita Wilson

Staff Reports


On Monday May 13, 2019, City Councilwoman Juanita Wilson spoke with Dr. John Marshall, the Americus Sumter Observer publisher. The Observer asked Dr. Marshall about the dialogue between him and Wilson and he said, “It was so sad and disappointing to see a woman so bitter and hateful to me, a civil rights leader that she
worked with for years. We worked together to help candidates get elected in Sumter County, and we were friends I thought.”

The disagreements between Wilson and Marshall began when the Americus City Council finally got a solid Black majority. When Councilman Kelvin Pless replaced Shirley Green Reese, our City Council had four Blacks who could make progress for Blacks and Whites. Instead, Wilson was upset because Dr Marshall asked the four Blacks publicly to remove City Attorney Jimmy Skipper. Marshall said he was literally begging the four to
remove Skipper for over nine months. In July 2018, Wilson, Pless, and Dowdell stopped communicating with him by phone. “Only Councilman Nelson Brown continued communicating with me,” says Marshall.

The Observer asked what Wilson said at Bethesda Baptist Church on Monday. According to Dr Marshall,

“Wilson said she has become more popular since we published complaints about her in the Observer. She said I [Marshall] have not had anyone stand up to me like her. I was stunned to see the stress on her face and
the rage in her eyes toward someone who has spent years trying to help Black elected officials like her.”

What was your reaction Dr Marshall, the interviewer asked, “I told her that she has decided to support Jimmy Skipper over me. Even NAACP President Matt Wright has been snubbed by Wilson.” Our newspaper reported what Skipper did while he was the attorney for the school board. He tried to deceive the majority Black Sumter County School Board but was caught by Board Chair, Ann Green. Skipper resigned. “My concern is that Skipper will do all he can to break up the four Blacks on the City Council. He cannot be trusted and that is why I urged them to remove him. Their reason for keeping him is that they need a “reason” to fire him. After consulting with several lawyers, I was told they do not need a reason. So, I ask the readers of this article to explain to me why they are holding on to someone who could hurt them.”

“There is so much work to be done by the City Council: appointments to boards, jobs recruitment, lawsuits settlements, and so much more,” says Marshall.

We at the Observer asked NAACP President Matt Wright if he has communicated with Wilson, Pless, and Dowdell and he said, “Only if he calls them. I tried to have a meeting with at least one of them but the meeting never materialized,” says Wright.

Our newspaper is totally baffled and very disappointed that Juanita Wilson would play this dangerous game with Skipper. She has made Dr Marshall the enemy, and we guess Skipper is her friend. Our publisher has been very supportive of our elected officials as long as they are not hurting the people who elected them. But when any elected official does not legislate in our Black citizens’ best interest, we will condemn that
behavior and report that official to our readers.