Melvin Everson is the Executive Director of the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity, charged with investigating charges of discrimination in the areas of employment and housing. A former state representative who was elected in 2005 as the first black conservative in over 150 years, Melvin has also served as an Associate Pastor at Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Lilburn.
On Tuesday, Everson was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Snellville Commerce Club, describing what the Commission does. He opened his talk by describing his early life in Wilcox County. “I know discrimination when I see it. I know racism when I see it,” Everson said. “I remember when Martin Luther King, 40 years ago yesterday, was assassinated. I didn’t have to read about it in the books. I lived that. I saw all of that.”
After describing some typical cases his office deals with, Everson referenced one of the biggest issues in this year’s General Assembly, House Bill 757, the religious liberty bill. Much as Governor Deal did, Everson pointed out that Georgia is one of five states that does not have a human rights or public accommodations law that could protect against discrimination, and could allow everyone to be treated equally.
Referring to claims that the bill would allow discrimination against certain groups, Everson said, “I don’t have to like your behavior, but I can’t discriminate against you. I can’t. Not the God I serve. He teaches me to love everybody. We’ve gotten way out of whack with this.” He went on: “I hate it when anyone is discriminated against because I saw it when I was growing up.”
Note: This post has been updated.