Georgia has a history of corrupt politicians. Georgia also has a history of white voters being skeptical of black politicians that is only just changing. Couple those two and Georgia has a history of its white community voting for the corrupt white guy instead of taking a chance on a black politician.

It does the black community no great service when, whether true or not, the Feds indict the former mayor of Atlanta, Bill Campbell.

Former Mayor Bill Campbell was indicted on charges of racketeering, bribery and wire fraud following a five-year federal investigation into City Hall corruption during his administration, a federal court announced Monday.

Campbell, who was mayor from 1994 to 2002, is accused of taking cash payments in exchange for city contracts and accepting illegal campaign contributions.

The indictment, unsealed Monday, accuses Campbell of “a pattern and practice of misconduct and illegal acts.”

The indictment explains a cozy relationship between Campbell and an unnamed computer contractor. It accuses Campbell of taking $50,000 cash in three 1999 payments from the computer contractor, which was then awarded a contract worth more than $1 million for the Y2K conversion.

I’m a white guy. I realize that. But let me say this and take it for what you think it is worth. Black politicians have a duty to themselves, their community, and the voters at large to be above reproach. They start out at a credibility gap with white voters, particularly in the South.

Campbell may very well be innocent. But, if he is, he most likely opened himself up to the charge through less than open and ethical conduct. In the same vein, Mayor C. Jack Ellis in Macon, Georgia should straighten up. He is hated in a large part of the white community and a growing part of the black community. But, because he is the first black mayor of Macon, he is setting the tone for future black politicians.

Black politicians should not be pawns of the white community or bow before the white community. Race should have nothing to do with it. Sadly though, race does for now. Black politicians should recognize that there is an unfair perception that exists and should prove that perception wrong.

For black Republicans, use J.C. Watts as a model. For black Democrats, use Shirley Franklin as a model. In fact, Mayor Franklin of Atlanta should be everyone’s model for sound leadership that trancends that racial barriers that so often build up in Southern communities. While I do not support her policies — she is an ardent Democrat — she has conducted herself ethically and honestly. She has done a fantastic job of shedding the taint of the Bill Campbell administration, with which she had been connected.