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Watching the Oprah Show today (4 May 2011) and seeing all the original Freedom Riders had me thinking about our Cousin Horatio Thompson born 1914 to James Thompson and Eleanor Etelka Cabrere Thompson. Horatio’s father James is the son of Great Aunt Alice Thompson the sister of Grandma Phine (Josephine Thompson DeLavallade).
The reason Oprah’s show had me thinking of Horatio he was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where the first Civil Rights Bus Boycott in the country took place June 20, 1953.
Before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, there was the Baton Rouge, Louisiana Bus Boycott of 1953. The first successful bus boycott of the 1950’s. In 1953, Horatio Thompson a Louisiana businessman did what he could to help the BATON ROUGE BUS BOYCOTT. Owner of two filling stations he donated and sold gas at cost to African Americans who owned the cars or taxis used in the boycott. Interviewed in 2003, Thompson said, “I couldn’t attend all the rallies and marches. But I wanted to support them.” “ It was a … of a sacrifice for me at the time.”
Not only was it a sacrifice, it took courage! Cousin Horatio Thompson could have lost everything including his life.
Horatio Thompson “began his career in business selling drug store items out of his dorm room to fellow Southern University students. He branched out to offer a car transportation service to Southern University’s President and school dignitaries. This lead to the opening of a taxi business and eventually lead him to approach Esso-Standard Oil about leasing a gas station franchise in Baton Rouge. By 1954 Mr. Thompson was beginning development of the first large scale African American neighborhood community, Southern Heights, in Baton Rouge. He later went on to amass a real-estate empire and operate a number of businesses along Scenic Highway in Scotlandville.”
Southern University honored Horatio by bestowing an endowed professorship in his name, the ‘Horatio C. Thompson Endowed Professor of Law’.
Horatio, will celebrate his 97 birthday this year. He is the Great Grandson of Eliza Randolph and Great-Great Grandson of Emmelie and George (No known surnames). His grandparents listed here were enslaved by the fifth governor of Louisiana, Henry Johnson who held that position from 1818 to 1824. At various times during his life Henry Johnson would be a U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, Planter, and owner of Chatham Plantation.
The First Civil Rights Bus Boycott: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1304163