First African-American West Point graduate honored in Thomasvill - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

First African-American West Point graduate honored in Thomasville

A banner lays across a new grave, a plaque showing historical significance stands beside it, and a gate bears the name "Flipper." (Source: WALB) A banner lays across a new grave, a plaque showing historical significance stands beside it, and a gate bears the name "Flipper." (Source: WALB)
Lt. Henry O. Flipper was born a slave in Thomasville. He went on to become the first African American to graduate from West Point. (Source: WALB) Lt. Henry O. Flipper was born a slave in Thomasville. He went on to become the first African American to graduate from West Point. (Source: WALB)
And it's a place fit for a trailblazer and historic West Point graduate. (Source: WALB) And it's a place fit for a trailblazer and historic West Point graduate. (Source: WALB)
A crowd filled a Thomasville cemetery all to honor a man who will never know the impact he made. (Source: WALB) A crowd filled a Thomasville cemetery all to honor a man who will never know the impact he made. (Source: WALB)
THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) -

A historic figure in South Georgia and American history was recognized Friday years after his death.

Folks in Thomasville gathered to remember the first African-American to graduate from West Point.

A crowd filled a Thomasville cemetery all to honor a man who will never know the impact he made.

"Preserve the history," said James Hadley, owner of the Black History Museum in Thomasville, "Preserve the history for the young people so they can understand and be able to read about our culture and history for the next generation."

A banner lays across a new grave, a plaque showing historical significance stands beside it, and a gate bears the name "Flipper."

"It's an important part of history," urged General Lloyd Austin James III, "It's a piece of history that is not just recognized in Southwest Georgia, Henry Flipper is known throughout the military and throughout the world."

Lt. Henry O. Flipper was born a slave in Thomasville. He went on to become the first African American to graduate from West Point.

David Rich , a West Point graduate himself and director of the West Point Society of Tallahassee, recalls the first time he visited Lt. Flipper's final resting place.

"The cemetery was in general disrepair, overgrown, strewn with the debris of dashed intentions and forgotten promises," Rich recalled.

Something he brought to the City's attention and they jumped in to help.

Now, the history, legacy, and final resting place of Lt. Flipper is restored.

"It's something that we have to do," urged General Lloyd James Austin III, "We can not forget our history."

And it's a place fit for a trailblazer and historic West Point graduate.

"A place that is finally and eternally, fitting, proper, just, and honorable," said Rich.

Lt. Flipper paved the way for many African Americans in the military, including one in his own hometown.

General Austin III was the second African American from Thomasville to graduate from West Point. He graduated nearly a century after Lt. Flipper.

Copyright 2017 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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