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Freedom Rider Hank Thomas To Share Story In Wichita


One of the original Freedom Riders who was attacked in the 1961 bus bombing will speak in Wichita Tuesday as part of Wichita State University's Black History Month Celebration at Southeast High School.

Civil rights icon and businessman Henry “Hank" Thomas will reflect on the fateful day in 1961 when an angry mob bombed a Greyhound bus in Anniston, Alabama.

Credit Courtesy
The Greyhound bus after it was bombed by a mob in Anniston, Alabama.

In an interview with Time last month, Thomas talked about how he and other black and white riders had come to the Deep South to protest racial injustices.

"The rest of the mob and the KKK started again breaking out the windows," he said. "The bus driver again got off the bus and it was at that time that an incendiary device was thrown aboard the back of the bus. In a few seconds the bus was on fire."

Thomas will discuss history and hope -- rising from segregation to integration, to his becoming a successful owner of many businesses including McDonald's franchises and Marriott hotels.

The event is free and open to the public. The program begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Southeast High School.


Carla Eckels is assistant news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.