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Jefferson Thomas

Jefferson Thomas was a track athlete at all-black Dunbar Junior High School in Little Rock when he volunteered to integrate all-white Central High School as a sophomore in 1957.

Mr. Thomas was a quiet, soft spoken, unique, and special person.  He had a subtle, infectious sense of humor that served him well throughout his life.  He would find that sense of humor and his LOVE for humanity severely tested by the hate and violence directed toward him by some of the white students at Central High School.  Mr. Thomas graduated from Central High School in May 1960, and entered Wayne State University in Detroit, as his family relocated to Southern California. 

In mid-1961, Mr. Thomas joined his family in Los Angeles, California.  There he quickly became active in the NAACP Youth Council as Treasurer, and served as State President of the Progressive Baptist Youth Convention.  He attended Los Angeles State College, joined the Student Government, and was elected President of the Associated Engineers.

Mr. Thomas married in 1965 and has one child (Jefferson, Jr.), still living in Los Angeles.  Mr. Thomas, Sr. was inducted into the United States Army in 1966.  He received training at Fort Riley, Kansas, and was promoted to staff sergeant, before being assigned to duty in South Vietnam, with the 9th Infantry Division.  There he served as an infantry squad leader (NCO), and directed numerous field campaigns as they confronted enemy troops.  He returned to civilian life in the summer of 1968. 

With his father, Mr. Thomas operated the family-owned Retail Sales Business, and attended Los Angeles State College to obtain a Bachelor Degree of Business Administration.  Mr. Thomas went to work as an Accounting Clerk and later, Supervisor for Mobil Oil Corporation - Los Angeles Credit Card Center, while still managing the family business.

When Mobil Oil moved its Credit Card Operations to Kansas City, MO, in 1978, Mr. Thomas remained in Los Angeles, and entered Federal Service as an Accounting Clerk with the Department of Defense.  The DOD relocated parts of its LA operations to Columbus, Ohio, in 1989.  He sold his business and moved to Columbus. 

After moving to Columbus, Mr. Thomas served as a member on the Board of Directors for the City of Refuge Learning Academy and the First Church of God Day Care Center.  As a part of his continued commitment to serve the local community, Mr. Thomas took time to serve as a volunteer mentor in the Village to Child Program, co-sponsored by Ohio Dominican University.  Mr. Thomas is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Ohio Dominican University in recognition of his life-long efforts in human rights and equality

Dr. Thomas is a frequent speaker at numerous high schools, colleges and universities throughout the country, and he is an eager mentor to young people.  He is the recipient of numerous awards from local and federal governmental agencies.  These awards include the NAACP Spingarn Medal, and Congressional Gold Medal, this Nation’s longest-running tradition of honor, for helping make democracy work.  He is especially proud of the life-size sculpture of the Little Rock Nine at the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock, the first in the state honoring living citizens.

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