Did you know one of the Little Rock Nine members was a veteran? Let's talk about Jefferson Thomas.
Jefferson Thomas was one of nine students selected to integrate the Little Rock Central High School in 1957. At 15 years old, he volunteered himself to be one of the students to integrate at Little Rock Central High School because he heard the education there was really great and that every student got their own frog to dissect in biology class. He wanted his own frog! However, it was a tumultuous time as he was subjected to a lot of hatred and anger from people who opposed integration of schools. After the 1957-58 school year, all schools were closed in Little Rock the next year to avoid integration, but when Central High School reopened in 1960, he returned and graduated.
Following college, he was inducted into the US Army in 1966 with the 9th Infantry Division and served in Vietnam. He was an infantry squad leader and led many field campaigns as they confronted enemy troops.
Returning to civilian life, he then served for 27 years as a civil servant. In 1999, he was awarded the prestigious Springarn Medal from the NAACP as well as the Congressional Gold Medal from President Clinton. In 2010, he sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer. He was remembered by his fellow classmates for his wry sense of humor, but to others he is remembered for his commitment to social justice and equality for all.
Learn more about Jefferson Thomas and the Little Rock Nine with the Historicons group puzzle and activity pack.