Biography of Michael L. Thurmond

Michael Thurmond's election to the position of Georgia labor commissioner follows a history of service to the state of Georgia that began in 1978 when he returned to his hometown‚ Athens‚ to practice law and took an active role in civic and political affairs.

Georgia (Dec 17, 2001) — Michael Thurmond's election to the position of Georgia labor commissioner follows a history of service to the state of Georgia that began in 1978 when he returned to his hometown‚ Athens‚ to practice law and took an active role in 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.



While serving in the General Assembly‚ Thurmond authored major legislation that has provided over $100 million in tax refunds to senior citizens and low−income working families.



In 1994‚ then Gov. Zell Miller selected Thurmond to direct Georgia's historic transition from welfare to work. He created the innovative Workfirst program‚ which has helped more than 90‚000 welfare−dependent Georgia families move into the workforce‚ saving Georgia taxpayers more than $200 million. These savings have been reinvested in childcare‚ training and other support services.



In 1997‚ Thurmond became the distinguished practitioner/lecturer at the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government. In 1998‚ he was elected labor commissioner. Thurmond presently chairs the Martin Luther King Jr. Georgia State Holiday Commission.



Thurmond is a published author. His second book "Freedom: An African−American History of Georgia‚" will be available January 2002. In addition‚ he serves on the Board of Curators of the Georgia Historical Society.



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 bachelor's degree 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.



Thurmond is a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church West of Athens. He and his wife Zola are the proud parents of a daughter‚ Mikaya.






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