The Athens Area Human Relations Council was founded by Rev. David H. Nunnally, Sr. in 1979. ***His idea was to implement a series of programs designed to keep the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King alive in the Athens, Georgia. He asked the members of his local chapter (Eta Iota Lambda) of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. to accept the idea as a service project in honor of their late brother, Dr. Martin Luther King. The members encouraged him to move forward with the programs and to serve as the chairman of the committee. The purpose was to organize activities, recognize the contributions of individuals from the Athens area who had done outstanding service for humanity and to implement a youth program, a scholarship program, an Ecumenical, and a Leadership program. These programs would foster the philosophy and dreams held by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his lifetime‚ÄĒuniversal brotherhood, respect for all races of mankind, and the spread of love and non-violent social change as well as peaceful co-existence throughout the world.

Rev. Nunnally sought and found others who were dedicated to keeping these goals and dreams alive. During this time period, four annual events were sponsored: the Ecumenical Service to honor Dr. King, the Adult Leadership Conference, the Youth Rally, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Leadership Seminar. These activities were carefully designed to bridge the gap that existed between the races in the Classic City. The scholarships and the service awards were presented during the Ecumenical Service and were awarded to the most qualified candidate regardless of race, creed or color. Ebenezer Baptist Church West provided the meeting places for all events for the first three years. During the 1982-1983 years, two important additions were made which were destined to shape the future of the Human Relations Council - the establishment of a Human Relations Awards Banquet and the inclusion of members from ten different counties in Northeast Georgia. These two changes helped to create a broader range of candidates for the awards given by the Council. Later on, Rowena McCoy would go on to suggest that the Youth Rally be changed to the name Youth Pow-Wow. The Original Founders of the Athens Area Human Relations Council were Jessie Barnett, Ileane Nunnally, Rosa Rittenberry, Lady Long, Melissa Tate, Henry Morse, Dr. Winfred M. Hope, Mayor Lauren Coile, and Dr. Ronald Schoeffler. Active Members of Eta Iota Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha in 1979 were David H. Nunnally, Sr., Milton Hill, Walter V. Jackson, Hugh Goodrum, Wilber Jones, Lamar Kidd, James Holston, Sr., James Alford, Jr., James McCoy, John W. Townsend, Jr., Robert Harrison, Joseph Greene, Kenneth Dious, Willie E. Walker, Ambrose McDow, Marion Stroud, and Edward Shelton.


The first Human Relations Council Banquet was held in 1982 at fellowship hall of First A.M.E. Church where the Rev. Roosevelt Morris was pastor. Dr. John W. Townsend was the keynote speaker. The title of his speech, "What Color is a Dream?", was in line with the spirit and ideas of the Council. His speech was captivating and maintained that all people are brothers and sisters and only the weak are separated by color and race. The meal that evening was Fried Chicken, English Peas, Cream Potatoes, Rolls, Apple Pie, Punch and Coffee. The price per person was three dollars. Some people ate without paying. The cooks for the occasion were Ms. Sarah Jones and Mr. Willie Robinson who volunteered their services. The manager of Bell's Food Market helped to make it possible for Rev. Nunnally to purchase the food. He got the food supply on credit because the Council had no money to make the purchase. With the encouragement of Dr. Ronald Schoeffler, Rev. Nunnally moved forward in making the meal he had planned a reality. When asked about the first banquet Rev. Nunnally quickly points out, "There were doubters who feared that the banquet would be a failure, too big of a task to be successful. I knew with God's goodness and the many ambitious people behind the idea of unity and goodwill, this project would be a success. Dr. Ronald Schoeffler and I prayed about this many a night. We knew it could only be a success." The event was well attended and the crowd of over two hundred fifty inspired the leadership to dream even bigger.


Throughout the years, we have heard numerous speeches and read many writings of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, none are as timely today as his concept of the Beloved Community. This concept was and still is far-reaching in its scope. It is a vision so broad that it encompasses every single human being on the planet.

Let us ponder for a moment what our communities would be like if we would invest one quarter of our time cultivating them. Just imagine what we as a people could do if we would say of our neighbors, "He's not heavy, he's my brother." We are at the threshold of a change that will be taking place in our country. It is time for us to sew the seeds that will have a positive impact on our homes, our neighborhoods and our nation.
"Cultivating the Beloved Community"

A reporter once asked me why I continue to work so hard in my community. I simply told her this. "Each day I do what I do because someone did it for me. We used to call it Passing it On. Now I believe they call it Paying it Forward." Whatever it is, we need to get others involved. Let us work together to cultivate our Beloved Community.


Hattie S. Lawson

Athens Area Human Relations Council, Inc.