Will Dwayne Thomas

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Will Thomas, is a Ph.D. Candidate in Auburn’s Department of History. Thomas was selected as a Presidential Graduate Research Fellow, receiving the most prestigious fellowship award given to outstanding doctoral students at Auburn University. Thomas was also awarded the highly competitive Presidential Graduate Opportunity Fellowship. His research focuses on Black Intellectual histories of resistance in the 19th century, the Black Radical Tradition, W.E.B. Du Bois, and freedmen schools in the so-called Post-Emancipation Era. His research has been generously funded by the Auburn University Graduate School, the Auburn University History Department, the Office of Inclusion and Diversity, and the Southern Regional Education Board.

Thomas earned a Master of Arts Degree in History with a concentration in Race and Society from Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. His Master’s thesis, ‘“They Know Too Much Already’: Black Education in Post-Emancipation Era Columbus, Georgia, 1866-1876,’” explores the genesis of freedmen schools in Columbus, Georgia, the racial ideologies of Blacks in the US on the eve of emancipation, the emigration to Liberia by Blacks in Columbus, and the harsh realities of freedom for Blacks in Georgia after the Civil War. While at Columbus State University, Thomas founded the “Student Symposium on African American History” as a vehicle for students to present their research in African American History. Thomas was also inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines.

Prior to becoming a Ph.D. student at Auburn, Thomas spent over a decade as an award-winning Georgia high school educator, teaching the subjects of AP World History, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP Human Geography, U.S. History, Economics, and World Geography, as well as writing Social Studies curriculum. Thomas remains to be a highly sought-after speaker. He has spoken extensively in the US on the importance of African American History, the W.E.B Du Bois’s Talented Tenth, and the critical role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Thomas received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Albany State University in Albany, Georgia, where he was inducted into Phi Alpha Theta History Society. His senior thesis, ‘“I Too, was in the Upper Room: The Life of Reverend Harriet Gainer, the First Black Woman Baptist Preacher in Albany, Georgia,”’ won the first place Hornsby Memorial Essay Award at the Southern Conference on African American Studies, Inc. Thomas is a member of several prominent professional historical organizations such as the American Historical Association, the Southern Historical Association, the African American Intellectual History Society, the Association of Black Women Historians, and the Southern Association of Women Historians. Thomas is an alumni member of Phi Beta Sigma, Fraternity, Inc. can be followed on Twitter@THEWILLTHOMAS and on Instagram @willthomaswriteshistory.