Henry “Hank” Thomas
“They wouldn’t let him operate the register, so he bought the restaurant.” Henry Thomas
A college student at Howard University, Hank Thomas volunteered in 1961 to become a Freedom Rider, engaging in civil disobedience protests against segregated public facilities throughout the South and very nearly getting himself killed by vigilantes. Then he earned a Purple Heart as a medic in the Vietnam War.
Given a chance to prove himself at a McDonald’s restaurant in Washington, DC, he went on to build a family business that has included multiple McDonald’s franchises.
Today he is celebrated as a hero of the civil rights movement.