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  Thurmond, Mike
NameMike Thurmond
Decatur, Georgia , United States
Born 00, 1953 (68 years)
ContributorReporting for Duty
Last ModifedRBH
Apr 09, 2017 02:13am
Infoformer state representative, State Labor Commissioner

Michael Thurmond was born in rural Clarke County, the youngest of the nine children of the late Sidney and Vanilla Thurmond. He graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Paine College in 1975 and later earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. In 1991, he completed the political executives program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

In 1978, Michael Thurmond returned to Athens to practice law and took an active role in that city's civic and political affairs. In 1986, he became the first African-American elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since reconstruction. During his legislative tenure, he was the only African-American legislator elected from a majority white district.

It was during Thurmond's tenure as a state representative that he first earned a reputation as a sharp, charasmatic public servant. In addition, as the author of successful bills that reduced property taxes, he also earned a reputation as a moderate who had Georgia's interests at heart. During his meteoric rise, he became one of Athens' most popular politicians.

In the mid-1990's, Gov. Zell Miller appointed Thurmond to head the Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS). Most notably, this placed him in charge of Georgia's Welfare to Work movement, which was one the most successful in the nation. 200,000 welfare mothers earned jobs during his time as DFACS head.

This experience was a formative one for Thurmond. As he helped so many women find jobs, he began to see-- as he often states-- that there "is dignity in work." "The crime rate for black men who are employed is the same as it is for white men who are employed," he noted. This philosophy led to his next stop-- Georgia Commissioner of Labor. Upon his election, he became the first black elected to statewide office without first being appointed. While serving, he's earned excellent reviews, earning re-election in 2002 during a year when several top Democrats did not.

A one-time professor who is an academic at heart, Thurmond is also the author of two highly acclaimed [Link] books, _A Story Untold_ and _ Freedom: An African-American History of Georgia 1733-1865_.


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