Georgia Commissioner of Labor Michael Thurmond was a guest of the Americus Kiwanis Club Friday, and he brought hope and inspiration for the future.
Thurmond, who has held his post for 20 years, was introduced by program chair Lewis Webb.
Thurmond said the 9.7 percent (Georgia) unemployment rate is the highest “ever” and the 11.3 percent unemployment rate in Sumter County is “one of the highest.” He said more than 460,000 Georgians are jobless and some 7 million Americans have lost jobs since the recession started.
But ... using humor and stories of his own modest beginning, Thurmond shared some good news with the Kiwanis Club. He said America has faced much more difficult problems than it is facing now. “And because of this,” he said, “ I have no doubt that America will emerge from this economic downturn better and stronger.”
The key to recovery, Thurmond said, is to “rally ourselves and define ourselves by what we share in common.” He said people tend to associate with people like themselves, whether it be race, political affiliation, religion, age or income level.
He reminded the club that American forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan identify themselves as “Americans,” even though they are men and women, black and white. “If our brave men and women can fight as one, why can’t those of us here at home stand together as one?” Thurmond asked.
The commissioner said the recession is forcing Americans to remember what made America great: family and caring about neighbors. He cautioned that this country can come out of the recession as a stronger, more productive nation, but only “if we continue to invest in the education and training of our children.”
Thurmond used his own life as an example: the son of a sharecropper who in only one generation went from the farm to student to lawyer to legislator and then to a Constitutional officer in state government.
Thurmond also encourages people to expand their “comfort zone,” and again using himself as an example, said he ran for and lost election to a seat on the state Legislature twice before he realized he was only asking blacks for their vote in a 66 percent white district (Athens). On his third attempt, he campaigned in white neighborhoods, too, and won the seat.
“My new vision for Georgia is that in my lifetime we will live in a state called Georgia, not separated by North Georgia and South Georgia, not separated by black and white, rich and poor, that we will be smart enough not to separate ourselves between Democrats and Republicans ... We can and will build one great Georgia.”The best politician in the state right now. He has a mix of charisma, inspiration & substance that will make him a force in the state in the future. A possible Lt. Governor candidiate I would be surprised if h left the Dept. of Labor to run for Lt. Gov. My bet is that he stays at Labor. If he does decide to move up it will be the U.S. Senate in my opinion