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The Honorable Michael Thurmond

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Information about The Honorable Michael Thurmond

Profile image of The Honorable Michael Thurmond

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
State Labor Commissioner

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue (Ribs)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Beaches
Favorite Quote:
There Is Dignity In Work.

Birthplace

Born:
1/5/1953
Birth Location:
Athens, Georgia

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
State Labor Commissioner

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue (Ribs)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Beaches
Favorite Quote:
There Is Dignity In Work.

Birthplace

Born:
1/5/1953
Birth Location:
Athens
See how The Honorable Michael Thurmond is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Georgia Labor Commissioner and noted historian Michael L. Thurmond was born in Athens, Georgia, on January 5, 1953, the youngest of the nine children of Sidney and Vanilla Thurmond. For eleven years Thurmond attended all-black schools, graduating from consolidated Clarke Senior High School in 1971as co-president of the student council and holder of the 100-yard dash record. At Paine College Thurmond started a student paper, was class president, and graduated cum laude with his B.A. degree in philosophy and religion in 1975; he later graduated from the University of South Carolina Law School.

In the summer of 1975, Thurmond helped start the black Athens Voice newspaper and upon graduation from law school in 1978, published A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History. Thurmond returned to Athens to practice law and took an active role in civic affairs; in 1986, he became the first African American to be elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since the time of Reconstruction. In 1994, Governor Zell Miller selected Thurmond to head Georgia’s transition from welfare to work. Thurmond became a distinguished practitioner and lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Thurmond became the first African American elected Georgia State Labor Commissioner in 1998; in this role he oversaw some four thousand employees while serving 90,000 families.

Thurmond chaired the Martin Luther King, Jr., Georgia State Holiday Commission, and served on the board of curators of the Georgia Historical Society. Thurmond published a second book entitled, Freedom: An African American History of Georgia. Thurmond and his wife Zola raised a daughter, Mikaya.

See how The Honorable Michael Thurmond is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Michael Thurmond's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his maternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond remembers his grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond talks about his father's upbringing and family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond explains how the Moore's Ford Bridge Lynching motivated his parents to move from Oconee County to Athens, Georgia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Athens, Georgia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his parents' meeting and educational and work experience
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond recalls studying black history at the library at the University of Georgia in Athens
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his early educational experiences in Athens, Georgia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond recalls two influential school teachers from his youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond reflects on his interest in Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond recalls the impact of the Civil Rights Movement during his youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his experience at Burney-Harris High School in Athens, Georgia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond recalls the closure of Burney-Harris High School to implement school integration in 1970
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond reflects on the downsides of integration in the educational system
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond explains his decision to attend Paine College in Augusta, Georgia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his last year of high school at the integrated Clarke Central High School in Athens, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his experience at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond remembers starting The Athens Voice, and attending University of South Carolina School of Law
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond remembers writing his first book, 'A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond talks about his early law career in Athens, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes winning a seat in the Georgia General Assembly by building a bi-racial coalition
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond recalls his career and eventual loss of his seat in the Georgia State Assembly
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond remembers writing 'Freedom: An African-American History of Georgia, 1733-1865'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his accomplishments as Director of Human Services, Division of Family and Children's Services, for the State of Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes implementing welfare reform
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond talks about being elected Labor Commissioner for the State of Georgia and modernizing the state's unemployment system
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond talks about his daughter and wife
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his book, 'Freedom: An African-American History of Georgia, 1733-1865'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond reflects upon the State of Georgia's centrality in African American history
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered