DeKalb presents inaugural award during King celebration

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addresses the crowd at the county’s annual MLK Day celebration. Seated are WSB-TV’s Sophia Choi, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond, judge Penny Brown Reynolds and county commissioner Jeff Rader. Photo by John Hewitt.DeKalb County residents and officials packed the Maloof Auditorium in downtown Decatur Jan. 12 for the county’s dedication to the life of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
Diversity and cooperation were the themes of DeKalb County’s 34th annual birthday celebration of King.

During the event, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond announced the county would present its first humanitarian award named for the late former DeKalb Commissioner Nathaniel Mosby.

Thurmond recognized Mosby, who was a founding member of the Oakhurst Community Health Center in Decatur and served on the county commission for 14 years, as well as his family.

“Every now and then, between the water bill problems and the potholes, we get a chance to do some good,” Thurmond said. “Mosby was a man who supported me when I was starting out in my political career. He was a great man and a great friend.”

DeKalb Farmers Market owner and founder Robert Blazer received the first Nathaniel Mosby Humanitarian Award.

“No matter what religion, race, creed or color…all of DeKalb, metro-Atlanta and Georgia has gone to the DeKalb Farmers Market,” Thurmond said. “It is truly a universal place.”
Blazer currently manages the operations of the farmers market along with his wife, Barbara and son, Daniel.

The farmers market started as a produce stand in 1977.

“When I’m in DeKalb, I feel really together. We’ve been able to create an environment there that is second to none,” Blazer said. “The market has another aspect that you can benefit from besides the food aspect. There’s the relationship aspect and how we can learn to get along with each other.”

The guest speaker was Judge Penny Brown who was the first Black person to hold the position of executive counsel in Georgia.  

The event also featured a panel discussion with Samia Abdulle, a community organizer and dialogue facilitator; Victoria Chacón, the publisher of La Visión Newspaper; Charlene Fang, a founding member of the Taiwanese American Women’s Club and the Chamblee Chamber of Commerce; and Ahmed Hassan, the first former refugee to take elective office in Clarkston.

The panel discussion included topics ranging from inclusion to overcoming language barriers.

“Dr. King emphasized the importance of human understanding and the participants in this year’s tribute share his vision of collaborating, communicating and listening to diverse communities,” Thurmond said. “Additionally, each panelist has contributed to creating a more brotherly society similar to King’s Beloved Community where all citizens can share in the progress of the county.”

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