Macon Magazine

August/September 2021

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organization led by an all-volunteer board charged with curating community through arts and music. As you look to the future, what are your professional and personal goals? I hope to continue to serve my community and grow my businesses. We're never fully sure what's going to be next, but we keep our eyes and ears open for new opportunities for investing in our community. What are you personally committed to accomplishing in Macon and why? Changing the narrative. I was born and raised in Macon and I'm very proud of it. Our rich history, culture and diversity makes us so unique, yet violent crime and negativity seem to constantly overshadow the good that's happening here. I'm committed to changing the narrative and showing others that Macon-Bibb is a beautiful place to live, work and play. Right now, what is the best thing going on in Macon? Our leadership is making a huge impact at the local level, which is being recognized across the state and nation. Their tenacity and teamwork are making waves in our community and are encouraging positivity and problem solving in ways that have never been done before. What have you learned about yourself or people during 2020? I believe in kindness and I choose to be kind. We all have our days, but what we know about the lives of the people we encounter is so very small, we should never have the audacity to be anything but kind. These current events have proven just how little we know about each other. In light of that, I hope people choose kindness. What is your vision for our community? My vision for our community is consistently becoming a reality. Small wins every day are making so many dreams come true for better green spaces, better housing, better schools and better businesses. When we put our visions together and find the best version of those combined visions, that's when great things happen. What needs to change to encourage continued progress in our city? Again, our narrative. We can't stay stuck in the past. We have to pay attention to what great things we have now and look forward to what the future can be with positivity and optimism. What would be a missed opportunity in Macon? To not show tourists in our city the very best Macon has to offer would be a missed opportunity. When travelers come from all over the world to visit our quirky little city, I consider it an honor. To not recognize their ability to choose anywhere else in the world to travel would be a missed opportunity to turn a one-time tourist into a lifelong believer in Macon and, hopefully, a future resident. When you talk about Macon to people who don't live here, what do you tell them? I tell them about its vibrant livability. With low cost of living, a booming business industry, a lively urban core, family-friendly festivals, a nationally recognized school system and so much more, the quality of life in Macon is one you don't come across often. What does it mean to be a good leader? A good leader doesn't always lead. They know when to let others lead, who to follow and when it's time for them to lead themselves. What do you consider your greatest achievement? In 2019, I won the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce Small Business Leader of the Year award. It was a huge professional accomplishment for me to be recognized alongside so many other great business leaders and one I will forever be proud of. Tell us about your job, and why you chose your career field. I'm an elected official currently serving as a Macon-Bibb County commissioner representing District Eight. I am also a licensed realtor during the day with my family company V.R. Watkins Realty. Tell us about your activities in the community, especially what you're most excited about. I've recently started my first fellowship program and it has been a tremendous learning and growth opportunity for me. The fellowship is with the E Pluribus Unum Foundation, a nonprofit started by former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu with the purpose of figuring out America's most complex issues of race and the growing inequities that are plaguing Southern cities. As you look to the future, what are your professional and personal goals? To become a leader who champions transformational change in our community. I'm unhappy with the conditions of much of our city. While there are many cultural beacons that make our hometown a place worth loving, there are also far too many Maconites living below the poverty line without access to healthy food, medicine or educational resources, with virtually no new capital being injected into those communities. What are you personally committed to accomplishing in Macon and why? To create a communitywide shared language around racial equity. I hope to help raise the understanding and comfort level communitywide so that we may have honest conversations about how we can improve our systems and structures so that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) people may experience better outcomes and have the same opportunities to thrive in our community. VIRGIL WATKINS JR., 37 Realtor at V.R. Watkins Realty; Macon-Bibb County Commissioner serving District Eight 34 | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2021

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