BLACK HISTORY MONTH PARADE & CELEBRATION
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, our parade and celebration will not take place in February. We are developing plans for a June 19 event, so stay tuned for additional details
We celebrate these Thomasville natives during Black History Month:
Lieutenant Henry Ossian Flipper
Henry Ossian Flipper was born into slavery in Thomasville, Georgia on March 21, 1856. He was the eldest of five children, born to Festus and Isabella Flipper. In 1874, he became the fifth black man accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He was often ostracized by the other cadets and had little interaction or support from the other white cadets, yet he preserved and became the first black man to graduate from West Point in 1877. He accepted a commission as second lieutenant to Company A of the Tenth United States Cavalry in 1878. He first reached Fort Still, Oklahoma, where he designed and supervised the creation of drainage to the “malarial ponds,” which saved hundreds of enlisted lives. To this day, Flipper’s Ditch still operates and has been a historic landmark since 1977. Also in 1977, the Henry O. Flipper Award was created at West Point and is presented to the graduating cadet who exhibits “leadership, self-discipline, and perseverance in the face of unusual circumstances.” Lt. Henry Flipper’s remains are interred at the Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper Historic Cemetery, located at 804 North Madison Street.
Charlie Ward, Jr.
1993 Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, Jr. is a native of Thomasville and graduate of Thomas County Central High School.
After he graduated from Florida State University, Ward by-passed the NFL and played professional basketball for the New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets before retiring in 2005. His Heisman Trophy, earned playing quarterback for the Seminoles, is on display at the Thomas County Public Library.
General Lloyd James Austin, III (Ret.)
Four-Star Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, a Thomasville native, became commander of the US Central Command in March 2013. He was responsible for U.S. military operations in 20 nations from Egypt, east to Pakistan and north to Kazakhstan. Gen. Austin was the 33rd Army Vice Chief of Staff from 2012- 2013. His remarkable career has spanned 40 years including service as Dir. of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, Commander of Fort Bragg, and head of the Multinational Corps in Iraq second in command to Gen. David Petraeus. He received a Silver Star for the Iraq invasion in 2003, and is the first African-American to command combat troops. A 1971 graduate of Thomasville High School, he was commissioned an Infantry Second Lt. after graduation from the US Military Academy at West Point. General Austin retired in 2016.