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Freedom Rider Hank Thomas on MLK Day

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Hank Thomas overcame an impoverished childhood in southern Georgia and Florida to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he was active in the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee affiliated Non-violent Action Group. After participating in the May 4th CORE Freedom Ride, Thomas returned to the deep south to participate in the May 24th Mississippi Freedom Ride from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi, and was jailed at Parchman State Prison Farm. After being released on bail, he went on to participate in the July 14th New Jersey to Arkansas CORE Freedom Ride. On August 22nd, 1961, Thomas became the first Freedom Rider to appeal his conviction for breach of peace. He was released on appeal, pending payment of a two thousand dollar bond. Following the Freedom Rides, Thomas served in the Vietnam War, returning home after being wounded in 1966. In recent years, Thomas has owned and operated several hotel and fast food restaurant franchises in the Atlanta metro region. Thomas joined us live in the studio on Monday, before his keynote address at the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration, to talk on our weekly program Bring it On. Now, highlights from that conversation for a WFHB feature report.

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