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Hannah H. Thomas

Civic activist and elementary school teacher Hannah H. Thomas was born in Florence, Alabama on December 25, 1916. The eighth of ten children, she is the daughter of Evernee Hubbard and Everett N. Hawkins. Thomas graduated from Burrell High School in Florence, Alabama in 1939 and earned her B.S. degree in education from Alabama A & M University in 1951. She later earned her M.S. degree in education from the University of Cincinnati in 1964.

Thomas taught school for more than ten years in Alabama, and was given a Teacher of the Year award in 1956 before she moved to Cincinnati in 1958. She taught in the public schools in Cincinnati for twenty-two years. Although officially retired from teaching, she continues working as an educator. She also founded Cincinnati’s African American Heritage Day and the Sojourner Truth Drama Group.

Thomas has received many awards and honors, including her selection as one of 200 Greater Cincinnatians during the bicentennial in 1988, a Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the Year Award in 1992, and the Zeta Phi Beta, the Beta Zeta Zeta Chapter, Woman of the Year Award in 1998. Thomas is also listed in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and Who’s Who in the World. She passed away on January 22, 2014.

Hannah H. Thomas was interviewed by The HistoryMakers March 15, 2005.

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Burrell-Slater High School

Alabama A&M University

University of Cincinnati

John F. Slater Elementary School

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You Can Be Anything You Want To Be.

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Civic activist and elementary school teacher Hannah H. Thomas (1916 - 2014 ) taught school in Cincinnati for twenty-two years and established the African American Heritage Day and the Sojourner Truth Drama group.


Laurderdale County Board of Education

Lincoln Heights Board of Education

Cincinnati Board of Education

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Timing Pairs

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Hannah H. Thomas' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Hannah H. Thomas lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Hannah H. Thomas describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Hannah H. Thomas describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Hannah H. Thomas recalls her family's sharecropping

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Hannah H. Thomas lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Hannah H. Thomas describes her schools around Florence, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Hannah H. Thomas describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Hannah H. Thomas remembers Florence, Alabama during the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Hannah H. Thomas describes political shifts in rural Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Hannah H. Thomas remembers attending Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College when her marriage ended

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Hannah H. Thomas describes Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College in Huntsville, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Hannah H. Thomas describes teaching and attending the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Hannah H. Thomas remembers teaching public school in Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Hannah H. Thomas describes her family

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Hannah H. Thomas describes creating the Harriet Beecher Stowe Historical Cultural Association

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Hannah H. Thomas describes the Soujourner Truth Troupe and African American Heritage Day

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Hannah H. Thomas describes history in Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Hannah H. Thomas describes relations between police and civilians in Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Hannah H. Thomas describes her goals for the future

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Hannah H. Thomas talks about her influence in Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Hannah H. Thomas talks about the NAACP

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Hannah H. Thomas talks about the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Hannah H. Thomas describes continuing school segregation in Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Hannah H. Thomas describes problems with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Hannah H. Thomas comments on proficiency tests for students and teachers

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Hannah H. Thomas reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Hannah H. Thomas describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Hannah H. Thomas narrates her photographs







Hannah H. Thomas talks about her influence in Cincinnati, Ohio
Hannah H. Thomas reflects upon her legacy
Well, Mrs. Thomas [HistoryMaker Hannah H. Thomas], when you, you look back over your, your life, especially here in Cincinnati [Ohio], what are some of the things that you're most proud of? The accomplishments that you're most proud of?$$There are so many things, I'm just trying to think of which might be the most important one. Well one, I, when I was teaching at Lincoln Heights [Ohio], as I said that was a very poor, you know, area, and I always told the, the children that the world is bigger than Lincoln Heights. So I was teaching just fifth grade then we had, I was teaching a division and I was teaching language arts for fifth graders, and I decide now we need to take these kids, you know, out of Lincoln Heights, take them somewhere. So I arranged a trip to take them to Columbus, Ohio, and we went to the governor's and they, each child they let through the line, I think we took about a 105, we had a 125 but all didn't go, and each child had a chance to go through and sit in, they let them sit in the governor's seat so they were governor, they were governor of Ohio for one second (laughter). And then we toured the city and we had made arrangements to have lunch at The Ohio State [University, Columbus, Ohio] and that's where we went. Little country kids from Lincoln Heights and I don't guess they'd ever been to a university, we took. And that was one of the things that I was very proud of because I at least exposed those children to more than just the little part that they had there in Lincoln Heights. But it, it's been a lot of good memories that I have here in Lincoln Heights. And I think the Day on the Square [African American Heritage Day] would come in too as one of the important days that I, I feel like it was really an accomplishment and some of the others were just things I felt like I was doing but I feel like those was two pretty, pretty major things.$$'Cause when I look over some of the articles based on your record of service, you were named Woman of the Year for more than one year. Now, now what led to, to those honors and, and who's bestowing the honor on you?$$Well it's the Cincinnati Enquirer Women of the Year, the Enquirer Women of the Year is done by the Cincinnati Enquirer. And, of course, they have a staff and names are submitted and the write-up of their bios, what they have done et cetera, et cetera. At the year when I was nominated there I think they said there was eighty-four names that was submitted and they reduced them down to thirty and then out of the thirty they pulled out ten. And I didn't have any idea that I would be that, I was hoping I would, but I was one of the ten. And after that year they were, I guess, they were impressed with me or whatever they said about me, so the next year when they was ready to advertise so to speak for the next Women of the Year, the next ten, they asked me if they could use my, my name and they said we are looking for more Hannah Thomas and that's what they trailblazer, you know, and they said that I was trailblazer, you know, that kind of stuff. And I figured that that was more important than being woman of the year that they felt that they wanted other women, you know, like me, it was, it was really, it was really, touching (laughter).$$And what year was that, please?$$Well I was a Woman of the Year in 1992 and it was in 1993 that they wanted to use my picture to advertise for the next ten women of the year.$I'm wondering as we come to the end of this formal part of our discussion, and your, the story of your history, if there's anything else that you'd like to add about your life and your work and your, your legacy, especially here in Ohio?$$Well I don't consider that I have so much of a legacy (laughter) I just feel like that I'm doing good work. So many people say when I get a, you know, an honor, well you deserve it because, and I say well don't everybody else observe it, you know, don't other people deserve what they get. But everybody wants to say well you deserve it, I say well what am I doing differently from other people. So I don't, I don't look at myself as any different from any, anybody else, you know, that's, that's doing good work, it's just that I'm hardworking and I've been hardworking, you know, all my life. My mother [Evernee Hubbard Hawkins] was one that were, were very, you know, I mean she was very efficient in whatever she did and you had to toe the mark she didn't have you just, just doing anything, even if you were sweeping the floor, she made sure that you did it right. And she instilled in us to do your best. And I have brought that, you know, through life. And perhaps a lot of people in Cincinnati [Ohio] have not had that and when they see, you know, what I'm doing they think I'm doing something extraordinary. And I tell 'em that, you know, I didn't just start working when I came to Cincinnati, I was doing some of this same work, you know, all my life that was part of our growing up in, in our school and in, in our churches and everything. So I don't see anything that I have done so outstanding (laughter) really, really. And as far as a legacy, the only thing I'd like to leave as a legacy, even to my family, and I leave this to my family, support each other, support each other. You might have a little difference of opinion, you might have different little arguments and little spats at time, I know we had growing up as a big family but my mother always taught us that you overcome that because you're a family. And that's what I teach to us as a race that I don't think that we are together enough to support, you know, each other. And if I could, get leave that as a legacy of my work is, all my work has been for somebody else, even raising my family. And I tell 'em, I say I'm not my age, I say I'm at forty that's when I started, you know, you know, taking on the responsibility, the family responsibility. And I tell people that if you want, they say well how you live long and how you be so happy, forget about yourself and concentrate on how you could help other people. And when you do that you, you, you magnify your, your problems because you're so busy trying to help other people with theirs. So if I could leave a legacy, mine would be a legacy of helping, supporting, togetherness. And in all our little group we talk about unity. All the editorials I write, the main thing is unity, putting all the puzzle pieces together. We got to come together as a race of people, work together, supporting, my legacy is together.