First black deputy looks back

By Staff
Nathan Strickland
The month of February is designated each year as Black History Month with the intent of celebrating prominent African Americans who changed the perception of racial profiling and fought for equality in America.
Locally, Jack Abernathy took the first steps to change the face of law enforcement in Franklin County.
In January 1980, Abernathy was sworn in as the first black deputy of the Franklin County Sheriff’s office.
Abernathy said he didn’t have many problems in the beginning.
Abernathy helped to open the door for three other African Americans who wanted to be involved in law enforcement in Franklin County since 1980. He said it seemed easy being a deputy at first, then things started to take a turn for the worst.
Abernathy said things changed after he got the deputy job.
Abernathy stayed with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office for almost a year before transferring to Lawrence County because of personal problems.
Abernathy served as an officer in Lawrence County for three years and was able to take part in guarding U.S. President Jimmy Carter during his tenure there. Abernathy left Lawrence County and took a position at the Leighton Police Department, where he would be forced to end his career as an officer because of a motorcycle accident.
Through a number of extensive rehabs, Abernathy was able to fight through his injuries and become eligible to work again.
Abernathy set his sights on private investigations and continued that profession until he was able to retire on his own terms.
Abernathy moved back to Franklin County where his professional journey began to spend time watching his three children, Ron and Mike Abernathy, and Asia Suggs, grow into adulthood.
He said he also enjoys watching his grandchildren run around and sees a bright future for them because of the accomplishments African Americans have made through the years.
Abernathy said he is honored to be a part of that history and hopes the future holds great plans for his children and grandchildren.

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