Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jefferson Thomas, one of Little Rock Nine, dead at 68

Jefferson Thomas, one of the Little Rock Nine, died Sunday at age 68 from pancreatic cancer.

From the AP obituary:

Mr. Thomas played a number of sports and was on the track team at Dunbar Junior High School, but others had little to do with him once he entered Central, the state's largest high school.

"I had played with some of the white kids from the neighborhood," Mr. Thomas said. "I went up to Central High School after school, and we played basketball and touch football together. I knew some of the kids.

"Eventually, I ran into them . . . and they were not at all happy to see me," Mr. Thomas added. "One of them said: 'Well, I don't mind playing basketball or football with you or anything. You guys are good at sports. Everybody knows that, but you're just not smart enough to sit next to me in the classroom.'"

Ms. Beals said Monday that Mr. Thomas was nicknamed "'Roadrunner' because he was so fast. You could sometimes avoid danger by running fast."

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