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FDR’s visit to Barnesville to be remembered at Gordon

By Walter Geiger Gordon State College will debut a new exhibit ‘˜Power to the People’ next month to commemorate the 80th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s visit to Barnesville on Aug. 11, 1938. FDR visited Summers Field where he spoke before a crowd estimated at up to 30,000 people. He was here to flip the switch for a Rural Electrification Administration project that bestowed the miracle of electricity to rural residents of Lamar County. Electric power was moved to the back burner and political power took center stage as FDR endorsed Lawrence Camp for U.S. senator from Georgia. Camp was on the stage with the president as was incumbent senator Walter F. George who was seeking reelection. FDR also derided a third candidate in the race, popular former governor Eugene Talmadge. The uproar was so intense, so the story goes, that the president never got around to throwing the REA switch. A dedication ceremony will be held Aug. 11 at 10 a.m. at the Fine Arts auditorium, featuring a welcome from Haven Luke, Roosevelt’s great-grandson. FDR’s speech at the football field will be reenacted. The keynote address will be given by Dr. Wayne Clough, former secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and president-emeritus of Georgia Tech. The exhibit will be housed at historic Guillebeau Hall, just up the hill from where FDR spoke. It will be open from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on the day of the celebration. This event is open to the public. For more information, call 678-359-5739.

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