Henry “Hank” James Thomas

I 1941

Henry “Hank” James Thomas, of Jacksonville, is an American civil rights activist and entrepreneur. Thomas was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders who traveled on Greyhound and Trailways buses through the South in 1961 to protest racial segregation, holding demonstrations at bus stops along the way. Thomas’ role in the Civil Rights Movement continued as he became one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and participated in multiple Freedom Rides. In 1965, he served in the Vietnam War as a medic and was injured in battle, earning six combat medals, including The Purple Heart. In 2006, Thomas received the distinguished “Buffalo Soldier” award from his alma mater, Howard University. Thomas is a lifetime member of the NAACP, an active fundraiser for the UNCF and a retired member of the 100 Black Men of DeKalb County.