Little Rock 9 Member Jefferson Thomas Dies

The man who helped integrate Central High School as a teenager in 1957 passes away.

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Jefferson Thomas (1957)

One of the members of the Little Rock 9 has died. Jefferson Thomas died of pancreatic cancer in Ohio. He was one of nine students who became known as the Little Rock 9 when integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957. This was the nation's first public battle over desegregation after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case outlawed racial segregation in the nation's schools. Gov. Orval Faubus sent national troops to block Thomas and eight other students from entering the high school. President Dwight D. Eisenhower then sent the Army's 101st Airborne Division to escort the students into the school and from classroom to classroom. In 1999 President Bill Clinton presented each of the Little Rock 9 with Congressional Gold Medals shortly after the 40th anniversary of their enrollment in Central High School. In 2008, then President-Elect Barack Obama invited members to his inauguration. Thomas was 68.

Read more at the Associated Press.