He was born November 30, 1953 in Glendora, MS at a time when the State of Mississippi was a segregated society. He got his early education on life as he traveled the dirt roads of Glendora, the plantations and cotton fields of Tallahatchie County and the juke joints.
In 1953 the United States was engaged in a discussion on ending segregation in schools. At the same time, Mississippi was making plans to prevent it, should it become a federal law. In 1954 the United States Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education outlawed desegregation in schools. There were glaring disparities between Black and White communities. The Mississippi Sovereignty Commission was established in 1956. Disenfranchisement laws like Poll taxes and literacy tests were widespread across the State to keep Blacks from voting.
The County is Tallahatchie, also known as ``The Free State of Tallahatchie.'' The place is Glendora and the year is 1955. Glendora is a small rural town that has always maintained a very small population. It is also one of the places tied to moments in history which helped fuel the civil rights movement. The events were the August 28, 1955 murder of Emmett Louis Till, and the December 1955 murder of Mr. Clinton Melton and his wife, Beulah Melton in March 1956. Although he was still a child the effects of this would follow him the rest of his life. No longer was Glendora unknown after this; in fact overnight it became an international sensation, forever having its own grey cloud.
His Parents: Mr. Thomas was the second child of twelve born to Mr. Henry Lee Loggins and Ms. Adeline Hill. His parents were Mississippi sharecroppers. His mother worked in a juke joint called King Place. King Place became well known as it was tied to the Emmett Till murder as the place where reporters went to get information and answers about rumors of Blacks having been involved in the murder. His mother was that witness. He often worked in King Place to earn money as a young boy. His father, Henry Lee, worked as an overseer for J.W. Milam on his farm. J.W. Milam along with his brother, Roy Bryant, were the two white men charged with and acquitted of the murder of Emmett Louis Till. His father had to make a life altering decision after being accused of participating in the Emmett Till murder. After death threats on his life and his family, he decided to leave Glendora and go into hiding to protect the family. Mr. Thomas made it his life-long quest to clear his father's name.
His Present: He said he has an etched memory of the hardships of Black folk in the segregated south, the Glendora murders and how they affected his family. It was through those experiences and others that he gained the wisdom and passion for helping his people and ultimately led to him becoming a civil rights activist in Tallahatchie County. He never shied away from a challenge or ran from danger.
Mr. Thomas has been an entrepreneur, giving it up only to answer his calling to public service. In 1975 he became the first Black constable in Tallahatchie County. In 1982, he became the second Black Mayor of Glendora.
In 1985 he became the first Black elected County Supervisor. A strong countywide effort was launched against him as the first Black supervisor even though the district in which he won was eighty percent Black. The case was taken all the way to the Mississippi State Supreme Court within thirty days of being elected. The results were not in his favor as the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned the election result and Mr. Thomas was removed from office. The NAACP selected him to serve on the original Redistricting Committee on Voting in the County. The challenges he experienced and knowledge he gained made him take the stand as a plaintiff in several lawsuits opposing countywide redistricting plans in the years 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010.
As the Mayor of Glendora, he has established the Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Center (ETHIC) which is a state of the art Museum. He is also credited with the creation and incorporation of the Glendora Economic and Community Development Corporation. To his credit is also the Emmett Till Memorial Park and Nature Trail. This trail is located on the infamous Black Bayou which is the initial drop-off site of Emmett Till's body, according to his father, Henry Lee Loggins.
The Black Bayou is also the same body of water in which the drive-off and murder of Mrs. Beulah Melton took place. Mr. Thomas's vision for Glendora has expanded to now include the Glendora Sonny Boy Williamson Bed and Breakfast. Every year to address healthcare for citizens, he and the town host an annual Breast Cancer awareness and screening to provide free breast cancer screening to all citizens. This effort is made possible through Calvary Baptist Church of New York, NY and Partners in Development of Boston, MA.