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History-making school board member Everton Blair reflects on race, age, goals for next school year

In December 2018, Everton Blair was sworn in as the first person of color on the school board. We’re checking in to see how he's faring eight months in.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — He was the youngest person ever elected to the Gwinnett County School Board, but he also made history in another way.

In December 2018, Everton Blair was sworn in as the first person of color on the school board. Eight months into the job, 11Alive sat down with the former Gwinnett graduate.

Blair was 26 years old when he was sworn in as Gwinnett County’s District 4 school board member. It was only nine years after graduating high school in the same county.

“I’m 27 now,” he laughed.

The familiar saying suggests ‘a year older, a year wiser,’ but Blair said, “it feels like it was 10 years long.”

As a millennial on the board, his perspective has shaken things up.

“Simply because of my age, I think I am able to connect very directly with the students. They are super transparent with me,” he said. “When there are certain issues that our students are facing, I think I just approach it from a different lens of personal lived understanding.”

It wasn’t long ago Blair was walking the halls of Shiloh High himself. He campaigned on his hometown roots and passion for the educational system that invested enough in him to get him to this point.

“Board governance is really interesting. It’s been a little shocking to understand how complex large systems are, but mostly that learning curve is over,” he said.

The other four board members -- Carole C. Boyce, Steven Knudsen, Dr. Mary Kay Murphy, and Louise Radloff-- have decades of experience between them. Blair said being the only person of color on a board of older white colleagues “has been really pleasant.”

“I am who I am. I’m unapologetic about the need for diverse space and diverse voice,” he said.

He said his fellow board members have been essential in teaching him the history.

“It’s been the perfect combination especially with some of the board members who have been there literally for even four plus decades. We are really gelling in terms of what we know and what we don’t,” Blair said.

After making history and headlines, expectations are high. It’s a lot of pressure, but Blair said he's taking it in stride.

“It’s fine,” he said. “To whom much is given much is required.”

The 2019-2020 school year will be his first full school year serving on the board. He said his priority is making sure each student gets the same investment he did no matter the zip code.

He plans to visit every school this year.

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