Jefferson Allison Thomas (1942–2010), was the youngest of seven children and a track athlete at all-black Horace Mann High School in Little Rock prior to the integration of Central High School. He completed the 1957-58 school year but was prevented from attending school the next year after Governor Orval Faubus and the voters of Little Rock closed that city’s public high schools. He returned to Central High the following year and graduated in 1960.
Thomas attended Los Angeles State College, now California State University, Los Angeles, where he received a degree in business administration. He served as an Infantry Squad Leader for the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War. Thomas worked as a civil servant for more than 27 years. He retired from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Columbus, Ohio in 2004.
In 1964, Thomas narrated the documentary Nine from Little Rock, which won an Academy Award. Thomas died on September 5, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio. He was survived by his wife, Mary, and a son from his first marriage.
His Experience in 1957
“I had no reason to think that the quiet, peaceful place where I grew up could change so drastically.”
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Bates, Daisy. The Long Shadow of Little Rock. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2000.
Beals, Melba Pattillo. Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High. New York: Washington Square Books, 1994.
Counts, Will. A Life is More Than a Moment. Indiana University Press: Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1999.
Journey to Little Rock: The Untold Story of Minnijean Brown Trickey. Dir. Rob Thompson. North East Productions, 2002. DVD.
LaNier, Carlotta Walls, and Lisa Frazier Page. A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School. New York: One World/Ballantine, 2009.
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Visitor Center. Little Rock, Arkansas. http://www.nps.gov/chsc/ (accessed June 16, 2012).
National Park Service, Central High School National Historic Site. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved June 5, 2012, from http://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=723
Roberts, Terrence. July 7, 2008. “Dr. Terrence Roberts of the Little Rock Nine,” Facing History and Ourselves. Retrieved from http://www.facing.org/about/who/profiles/dr-terrence-roberts.
Roberts, Terrence. Lessons from Little Rock. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2009.
The Ernest Green Story. Disney Educational Productions, 2005. DVD.