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A Moment in History

The Amistad Murals consists of three panels: The Revolt, The Court Scene, and Back to Africa. They are housed in Savery Library and are known as one of artist Hale Aspacio Woodruffࢥst known works.

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Released On:
Monday, August 29, 2011
Nicola Lawler
Office of Public Relations


Talladega, Alabama-In contrast to 50 years ago, this time when Hank comes to Alabama, he will be welcomed and celebrated. TC Trustee, Dr. Hank Thomas will be the guest speaker at the 2011 Opening Fall Convocation at Talladega College on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

Thomas is an original and National Spokesperson for the Freedom Riders that defied the laws of segregated bus and train travel in the United States 50 years ago. He was honored by Oprah Winfrey as an American Hero on her talk-show recently along with other Freedom Riders as she commemorated the golden year celebration of the Freedom Rides.

The Vietnam War Purple Heart recipient was honored across the country this summer. This year, the city of Anniston embraced Thomas and other Freedom Riders at city-wide events honoring them. The Anniston Star featured historic photos from the 1961 bombing in their online newspaper and they published a commemorative piece entitled, “The Ride.” Thomas was included on the front page of the Washington Post in May. His account and involvement as a freedom fighter was also included in the PBS documentary, “The Freedom Riders, an American Experience” produced this year.

Thomas was honored at the 136th Commencement Exercises of Talladega College in May where he received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and a standing ovation. TC President, Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, lauded him before the audience as “a veteran civil rights foot soldier, who changed history and made it possible for all of us to be here today.” Thomas was arrested 22 times for civil disobedience and he was once sentenced to six months in the Mississippi State Penitentiary for treason against the state for using a “whites only” men’s room in Jackson, Mississippi.

He is currently the president of Victoria Hospitality Properties, Inc., a company that operates three (3) Marriott Branded Hotels; and he is the Vice President of the Hayon, Inc. Group which has owned and operated three (3) McDonald’s Restaurants since 1982. The Opening Convocation will be at 10 a.m. in DeForest Chapel on the campus of Talladega College next Thursday. The public is invited. For more information, contact the Talladega College Office of the President at 256-761-6212.

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The history of Talladega College began on November 20, 1865, when two former slaves William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, both of Talladega, met in convention with a group of new freedmen in Mobile, Alabama.

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