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County mentioned on TV show
Episode revisits events of 1987
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Forsyth County News

 

Forsyth County was featured in the opening segment of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Oprah took a look back on previous shows about race in America over the past 25 years, including a 1987 show taped in Forsyth County.

The five-minute segment primarily reviewed footage of the original broadcast, which was aimed at discussing the racial atmosphere in the county.

Monday's show revisited some of that episode before a monologue from Oprah, during which she updated viewers on the county's current makeup.

The show's Web site recapped her statements: "It is now one of the richest counties in the United States and more than 7,000 African American citizens live there. The residents there -- both black and white -- say it’s a great place to live and raise a family."

For the update, the show's producers visited the county in September, though the talk show host herself did not make the return trip.

Monday's episode drew mixed reactions from county residents.

Roger Crow, who was the incoming Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce president in 1987, said the show only "rehashed old information."

Crow said the original episode, as well as the recent one, "lacked credibility" because many in the audience were not from Forsyth, though viewers were led to believe they were.

Her update following the review was also disappointing, he said.

"Forsyth County has not changed," Crow said. "It has grown tremendously, but it is exactly the same atmosphere, high quality lifestyle today that it was in 1987."

He felt Oprah was trying to take credit for the population's increased diversity.

"Anybody who is a law-abiding citizen is welcome, whether they're pink or green or black or white," he said.

Crow was contacted in 1987 and in September about the telecast, and declined to participate both times.

He added that Oprah missed the true issue of what happened in the 1987 marches in Forsyth County -- then and now.

"They never did focus on why the march actually took place," he said. "I don't think they were interested in showing that or revealing that. It had nothing to do with whether or not Forsyth County was racist.

"It all had to do with the internal politics among the black civil rights leaders."

The 1987 show followed a march, led by the late Rev. Hosea Williams, which was halted by an all-white crowd.

The civil rights marches and counter protests propelled then largely white Forsyth into the national spotlight.

While the Monday show sparked memories from the past for some, others hadn't heard the buzz.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, who also held that same post 24 years ago, said he didn't know the Oprah show had revisited the issue.

Forsyth County Commissioner Pete Amos had heard about Monday's episode, but didn't see it. A county native, Amos said only that he hoped it painted a positive image of the county.