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Eight cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point will soon pay a visit to Thomasville to learn more about one of their own. The cadets are visiting important sites in the southeast as part of a summer seminar studying history and law as it relates to civil rights. The visit to Thomasville is for the purpose of learning more about Lt. Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate from West Point and a Thomasville native.

“Thomasville is one of several stops as the cadets visit sites that are important and significant to the history of our country’s civil rights movement,” said Wayne W. Lambert, Jr., Assistant General Counsel for the Florida Department of Transportation, who is a West Point graduate and helping to coordinate the summer session. “Thomasville has two sites of importance that will be visited by the cadets and two professors.”

The West Point cadets and their professors will first visit the Jack Hadley Black History Museum, which is rich in local and national history and houses many unique collections that illustrate the civil rights movement. “One of the collections of particular interest relates to West Point and Lt. Henry O. Flipper, who was born a slave in Thomas County and emancipated in the 1860s,” said Lambert. “Lt. Flipper went on to enter West Point in 1873 and graduated as the first black graduate in 1877.”

The Jack Hadley Black History Museum houses numerous items from the Flipper family and from Lt. Henry O. Flipper’s service to the nation as an army officer. The group will later visit the gravesite for Lt. Flipper, The Old Magnolia Cemetery, located on Broad Street in downtown Thomasville.

“The cadets will pay their respects to this important member of the Long Grey Line, play Taps in his honor, and render appropriate military salute,” said Lambert. 

“We are very pleased to welcome the cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point to Thomasville and particularly happy to share with them the story of Lt. Henry O. Flipper,” said Kha McDonald, Senior Assistant City Manager. “Lt. Flipper’s story is very important to the civil rights movement, so I hope the cadets leave Thomasville with an appreciation of the perseverance and dedication that highlight his story.

Lambert stated that the cadets’ visit was heavily supported by the West Point Society of Tallahassee.

“The local events in support of this Cadet trip to Thomasville were organized by the members of the West Point Society of Tallahassee,” Lambert said.

“It is also worth noting that this group of dedicated West Point graduates, led by David Rich, West Point class of 1978, has voluntarily maintained Lieutenant Flipper’s family section in the Old Cemetery for the last 14 years,” he added.

Itinerary of West Point Cadets Visit to Thomasville
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 – 5:00 pm
Jack Hadley Black History Museum
214 Alexander Street, Thomasville, GA

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 – 9:30 am
Lt. Henry O. Flipper Military Salute Ceremony
Corner of Broad and Jerger Streets, Thomasville, GA