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King celebration today
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The citizens of Newton County will celebrate the 79th birthday and 23rd national observance honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in an ecumenical service to be held at 3 p.m. today in the Porter Auditorium, Newton County High School.

The keynote speaker will be Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond - attorney, author, lecturer, public servant and creator of the Workfirst Program. Under his direction, the State of Georgia Labor Department has changed to address and accommodate the needs and skills of Georgia's unemployed.

He is a graduate of Paine College and University and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He also completed the Political Executive Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Thurmond has authored several books and was awarded the Historical Society's Lilla Hawes Award for his latest book, "Freedom: Georgia's Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865."

The Georgia Center lists this book as one of the 25 books all Georgians should read.

He and his wife Zola are parents of a daughter Mikaya and are members of the Ebenezer Baptist Church West of Athens.

Each year, since the inception of the celebration, a citizen of Newton County is given the I Have a Dream award. The recipient is one who has displayed the philosophy and discipleship of Dr. King through acts of benevolence and generosity.

An academic scholarship is awarded to a Newton County graduate to attend Oxford College of Emory University. Seniors who are interested in applying for the King Scholarship should contact a counselor at their school.