THOMASVILLE — December 31st, 2014 – The 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-and-Thomas Counties, Inc.’s first annual Black Tie Banquet and Gala was memorable and successful. This event took place recently at the Grand Ballroom (5th floor) of the Business Exchange Building located at 125 N. Broad Street in downtown Thomasville.
The gala’s theme was “Reclaiming Our Youth.” The Keynote Speaker was Michael Thurmond – the current Superintendent of DeKalb County (GA) Schools and past Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner. Mr. Thurmond was also once served as Georgia Department of Family and Children Services Commissioner.
Mr. Thurmond – a member of the 100 Black Men of DeKalb County, Inc. – was raised as a sharecropper’s son in Clarke County, Georgia. He graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Religion from Paine College. He later earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina’s School of Law. He completed the Political Executives program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Mr. Thurmond is the holder of two honorary doctorate degrees – from Clark Atlanta University and from Lagrange College. In 1986, he was elected to the Georgia General Assembly representing Clarke County. In doing so, he became the first African-American elected to that body since Reconstruction.
Mr. Thurmond’s message was a powerful, but concise one. He shared with the audience his own trials and tribulations of growing up in a family struggling to make ends meet. He recounted how he declared his candidacy to become Georgia’s Labor Commissioner from Thomasville in 1998. Mr. Thurmond spoke of how the same routes he and his father drove along to sell their produce in his youth became the same routes he traveled upon to solicit support for his campaign to become Labor Commissioner. He attributes the narrow margin by which he won to the people who respected his father – and those who remembered Mr. Thurmond working alongside his father.
During Mr. Thurmond’s three terms as Georgia’s Commissioner of Labor, the Department underwent a major transformation focusing on better efficiency and customer service. The program Mr. Thurmond oversaw, Georgia Works, is still in place today. Georgia Works has earned nationwide acclaim and bipartisan support. In fact, President Obama used Georgia Works as the model for part of the American Jobs Act he submitted to Congress during his first term in office.
Several members of the 100 BGT brought their mentees to the Gala and Banquet. Those mentees were on program at various points of the evening’s festivities.
The banquet portion of the evening’s festivities included instrumental music and vocal performances meal and musical performances by the C.H.A.R.M. School Singers under the direction of Carolyn A. Henry. Reverend Corey King, Sr. – Pastor of Restoration Tabernacle Ministries, Thomasville – gave a stirring rendition of “Born to Set Me Free.”
The individual officers and members of the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-&-Thomas Counties, Inc. were ceremoniously pinned by Attorney Nathaniel Haugabrook, II – a member of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc.’s National Chapter Development Committee.
Several local business and corporate partners were formally recognized by the members of the 100 BGT – including: United National Bank, The Kingdom Group, Susie Q’s, Thomasville City Schools, R.L. Cunningham & Sons, Inc., the 100 Black Men of Valdosta, Inc., Pickels Pharmacy, and Cloud & Son’s Funeral Home. Patrons and friends acknowledged by the 100 BGT include: Harry J. Altman, Pat Colson, Diane Parker, and Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.
This 501 c 3 non-profit, community service-based organization that is now the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-&-Thomas Counties, Inc. begin as an Interest Group for nearly 2 years before being formally chartered on December 14th, 2013 by the National/International office of the organization – which is headquartered in Atlanta. The local Chapter is dedicated to the four pillars of mentoring, education, economic empowerment, and health & wellness in Brooks, Grady, and Thomas Counties.
The 100 BGT has members who live and/or work in Valdosta.
Superintendent Thurmond commented: “Thomasville is like home to me. I have wonderful memories of the Southwest Georgia area. I’ve had the privilege of knowing outstanding residents who live and work here. When Brother Bryant contacted me, I jumped at the opportunity to come down. My 100 brothers here are real men dedicated to making a real difference in the lives of their mentees. I was truly honored to be a part of such an awesome event.”
Stan Savage – Southern District Representative of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. – opined: “The members of the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-&-Thomas Counties, Inc. are doing magnificent things. This Chapter has not only become a model for brand new Chapters with the 100 Black Men of America, it has become the standard by which all Chapters of the organization are to be compared to. These men are leaders who exemplify what this organization is all about nationally and globally.”
Dr. Randy Watts – Headmaster of the Brookwood School – stated: “I thoroughly enjoyed spending the evening with the 100 Black Men at their Gala and Banquet. It seems like an important and productive organization for Thomasville and the surrounding counties. It is my hope that Brookwood can partner with the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-&-Thomas Counties, Inc. and jointly work together for the betterment of this beautiful community.”
Michael Bryant – President of the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-&-Thomas Counties, Inc. said: “We appreciate so very much the support that we have received from all of our communities specifically with regards to our first banquet and gala. We are so thankful to those who participated in and attended this event. This fundraiser will go a long way in helping to finance our mentoring, educational, health and wellness, economic development, and leadership development efforts. Last but certainly not least, thanks to the brothers of our local chapter and the chapters abroad as we endeavor to do the work of the 100. This work is to collectively assist in raising up positively, productive young men that will make us proud as they place back into the community a portion of what they have received. And this work is without regard to race, creed, color nor national origin. We encourage others to join us in our efforts.”
Rev. Arthur L. Jones III: Thomasville-Times Enterprise