Festival Saturday, February 17, 2024

Time: 10:20 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

225 W. President St, Savannah, GA 31401

Michael L. Thurmond


Founded byJames Oglethorpe on February 12, 1733, the Georgia colony was envisioned as a unique social welfare experiment. Administered by twenty-one original trustees, the Georgia Plan offered England’s “worthy poor” and persecuted Christians an opportunity to achieve financial security in the New World by exporting goods produced on small farms. Most significantly, Oglethorpe and his fellow Trustees were convinced that economic vitality could not be achieved through the exploitation of enslaved Black laborers.

Due primarily to Oglethorpe’s strident advocacy, Georgia was the only British American colony to prohibit chattel slavery prior to the American Revolutionary War. His outspoken opposition to the transatlantic slave trade distinguished Oglethorpe from all of America’s more celebrated founding fathers.

James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia uncovers how Oglethorpe’s philosophical and moral evolution from slave trader to abolitionist was propelled by his intellectual relationships with two formerly enslaved Black men. Oglethorpe’s unique “friendships” with Ayuba Suleiman Diallo and Olaudah Equiano, two of eighteenth-century England’s most influential Black men, are little-known examples of interracial antislavery activism that breathed life into the formal abolitionist movement.

*James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia will hit shelves on February 15, 2024!


Michael L. Thurmond is the Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County, Georgia. He is the author of Freedom: Georgia’s Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865 and A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History.

Freedom was awarded the prestigious Georgia Historical Society’s Lilla Hawes Award. In 2004, the Georgia Center for the Book listed Freedom as “One of the Twenty Five Books All Georgians Should Read.” In 2020, The Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council awarded Thurmond a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the research and preservation of African American Georgia history.

Thurmond has previously served in the Georgia legislature, as director of Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services, as Georgia labor commissioner and as superintendent of DeKalb schools. He lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia.


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