Virgil Watkins, Jr.2023-02-01T15:42:25-06:00
Virgil Watkins, Jr.

Virgil Watkins, Jr.

County Commissioner, Macon-Bibb County, Board of Commission, Macon-Bibb County, GA

Virgil Watkins serves as a District Representative on the Macon-Bibb County Commission. Since becoming a Commissioner, Mr. Watkins has served as Executive Board Member of the Workforce Investment Board, a Board Member for the Regional Youth Detention Center, and Member of the Convention & Visitors Bureau. Currently, Mr. Watkins is the Chairman of the Operations & Finance Committee on the Macon-Bibb County Commission. Prior to being elected, Mr. Watkins worked for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as a political organizer, served as Democratic representative on the Bibb County Board of Elections, and a Mayoral appointee to the Macon Transit Authority. Mr. Watkins holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Georgia Southern University and a masters in Business Management from Wesleyan College.

An Equity Resolution in Macon-Bibb County, Georgia

County Commissioner Virgil Watkins, Jr., of the Macon-Bibb County Board of Commissioners persuades his county to track and address inequity

Virgil Watkins, Jr. is a county commissioner in Macon-Bibb County, Georgia. He became an E Pluribus Unum Fellow to solve a problem his county shared with the country at large: they faced significant racial disparities, but struggled to discuss race at all. 

“We noticed 60% of the Black people in Macon were experiencing poverty, versus 8% of the white community due to redlining,” he explains. “But we were just talking about geographies. We’d avoid race.” 

 Watkins wanted his local government to not only talk about racial inequity in Macon, but to end it. Through the E Pluribus Unum fellowship, Watkins joined other elected leaders for training and education around racial equity. He became interested in “equity resolutions,” through which governments pledge to address inequities in their communities.

 E Pluribus Unum connected Watkins to leaders who had passed such resolutions themselves, and Watkins decided that an equity resolution would get to the heart of what Macon-Bibb needed. He proposed a resolution to the County Board of Commissioners that would require the county to assess, monitor, and address the impact of their policies on local racial and economic inequities. Watkins was persuasive and persistent in his advocacy, and in November of 2021, the resolution passed.  

The city got to work. E Pluribus Unum funded Watkins and his colleagues’ participation in a racial equity training and a year of Macon-Bibb’s membership in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity, and the county began examining its budgets and actions. Watkins says he saw “lightbulbs turning on” among local officials. In the year that followed, the board passed $500,000 for mental health services and much of the county’s funding from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan went to programs that helped alleviate inequities. 

Since the resolution passed, Watkins says, “we’ve spent a lot of time, and a lot of dollars, focused on underserved communities—from the homeless, to affordable housing, to violence interrupters. That, to me, is what the equity planning is about.” 

He’s proud of this work, but he won’t stop here.

“That was the first hurdle,” he says. “I immediately go to, ‘what’s next?’”

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