Michael Thurmond, CEO of DeKalb County in Georgia, Gives Lecture on Black History in Athens at First A.M.E. Church

Michael Thurmond, the 66-year-old Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County, Georgia, speaks at First AME Church during a lecture series that bears his name on Saturday, March 2, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. Thurmond, an Athens native, talked about his upbringing and how things have changed in Georgia since he was a child. (Photo/Sidhartha C. Wakade, [email protected])

The sanctuary at First A.M.E Church was filled to capacity Saturday afternoon as members of the Athens community listened to DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Michael L. Thurmond deliver a lecture about his soon-to-be updated book that covers the black community and black history in Athens.

Thurmond is a former member of the Georgia General Assembly, former superintendent of the DeKalb County School District and former Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. He was also elected Georgia State Labor Commissioner in 1998, the first African-American to be elected to a statewide position in Georgia without prior appointment.

“We’re here to celebrate history,” said Thurmond. “But, we’re surrounded by history. Living, breathing, walking, talking, history.”

Thurmond’s 40-year-old original book, “A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History” will receive an update to many of its chapters and will be re-released in April.

During the lecture, which is named after Thurmond and is part of the annual Athens Area Black History Bowl lecture series, Thurmond discussed how desegregation lead to his interest in writing the original novel.

Thurmond, a native of Athens, attended Burney-Harris High School during his junior year. For his senior year, Burney-Harris would combine with Athens High to become Clarke Central High School — a move Thurmond did not support.

“We were afraid that in a consolidated environment we would lose our history and heritage of a school that we loved and appreciated so much,” Thurmond said.

Thurmond’s frustration with the combination of the two schools and the closings of other area schools led him to write what would eventually become “A Story Untold.”

“I decided to write a pamphlet — a 25 page pamphlet that would capture and save and document the history of the black community,” Thurmond said.

After attending law school at the University of South Carolina, Thurmond decided to continue work on the pamphlet that would later swell to a more-than-200-page book.

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Source: The Red & Black