One of the boldest acts to start the churning of the civil rights movement were the students who singlehandedly desegregated the largest high school in Arkansas. In 1957, Jefferson Thomas and eight other students walked to their classes against the national guard that the governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, called in to prevent them from entering the school. So President Eisenhower countered his move and sent in the Army to help them to each class.
According to Huffington Post, Jefferson Thomas died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 67 in a extended care facility in Columbus, Oh. Thomas and the other eight students: Carlotta Walls LaNier, Melba Patillo Beals, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Terrence Roberts and Thelma Mothershed Wair, were immortalized in nine sculptures called “Testament.”
Read more about Jefferson Thomas, the hero, here.