By: Mac Howard

This week, we’re shining the spotlight on a pillar in the community who’s sharing her life of service.

Growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, and born in 1950, just five years before the storied Bus Boycott, Margie Shannon Telfair became accustomed to struggle at a young age. She and her six siblings were daily firsthand witnesses to the oppression and violence of the time and listened in fear to the Ku Klux Klan as they roared through her neighborhood spouting jeers and threats from their trucks while her parents kept them safe and inside. Despite the horrors of that time, Margie found hope and joy in the place where it was strongest – the church.

The Shannons were lucky enough to be members of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church (then just Dexter Avenue Baptist Church) where the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served as Senior Pastor and personally baptized two of Margie’s brothers. At church, Margie saw what just a little bit of hope could do for a group of people, no matter how badly they were beaten. At Dexter Avenue, something inside Margie decided that she’d do her part to spread that hope as far as she could and help people who couldn’t help themselves.

“Those were definitely scary times, especially as a little girl,” Margie said,” but all that fear melted away whenever we walked through those church doors.”

After graduating with honors from Alabama State University in 1976, Margie used her experiences from childhood to fuel her foray into community outreach and charity program development and found herself as the executive director of the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter in Cartersville, Georgia. From 2008 to 2012 she helped those in her community in need by designing goals and roadmaps to help find shelter for struggling families. When those families were ready to move on from the shelter, Margie made sure they were healthy and self-sufficient. She even took it upon herself to create roadmaps that would help them in finding affordable and secure housing.

Word of Margie’s work serving the community eventually spread far enough that she was chosen as the Program Manager for the “Ten Point Plan to End Homelessness” headed by then-Mayor of Atlanta, the Honorable Shirley Franklin. Collaborating with the United Way Commission on Homelessness, Margie and her staff managed to place 300 families in safe and affordable housing. After the end of Mayor Franklin’s term, Margie became employed at Atlanta’s Department of Procurement as a Senior Officer, purchasing various goods and other commodities that would benefit residents throughout the City of Atlanta. She held that position until she retired in October 2019.

The desire to help people in need never left Margie. Since retiring from city work she’s been seen using her voice, platform and name to advocate for a multitude of causes. She’s volunteered at her church to organize forums on human sex trafficking, voter registration, violence among city youth, and most recently for the myriad of issues and questions that emerged during the COVID-19 crisis and its vaccinations.

“I just can’t sit still when I see people who need help,” claims Margie. “Something in me just always pushes me to take action where I can.”

Most recently, Margie has volunteered as the Faith Outreach Director for Felicia Moore during the 2020 mayoral race in Atlanta, securing appearances for her candidate in the churches of metro Atlanta. She’s currently serving in the same capacity for the current sole candidate in the race for Fulton County Chief Magistrate Court Judge, Cassandra Kirk. Margie manages to do all of this while still dedicating herself as the Vice-Chair of her neighborhood association and an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Margie Shannon Telfair has made herself a pillar of her community in Atlanta and helped countless numbers of people through her community service. Taking pride in all aspects of her work and personal life, she’s constantly engaging in positive work that exhibits and spreads the humility, joy and hope she found as a child on Dexter Avenue, all the way back in the 1950s.