"They wouldn’t let him operate the register, so he bought the restaurant."
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.
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