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Dr. Thomas Graham

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Dr. Thomas Graham ImageLecture Synopsis

Frank P. Thompson, headwaiter of the Hotel Ponce de Leon, occupied a role of leadership among the black employees of Henry Flagler’s hotel, but he also undertook a position of leadership in the black hotel waiters union on the national level. He was recognized as the preeminent “Commander of the Dining Room.” During a time when the tide of racism and segregation was rising in American society, Thompson attempted to maintain a place of dignity for people of color. He was a “race pride man,” who challenged the waiters under his command to stand tall and develop their full potential. A man of many talents, Thompson organized musical groups and originated the most successful black professional baseball team of the day, the Cuban Giants, a team that had its origins among the hotel workers in St. Augustine.

Recommended Reading

Thomas Graham The Awakening of St. Augustine & Jean Waterbury The Oldest City (read the Henry Flagler chapter(s) in either of these books)

About Dr. Graham

Dr. Graham was a member of the faculty at Flagler College from 1973 to 2008. He presently is Professor of History, Emeritus in the Liberal Studies Department and continues to teach an occasional course.

He received his PhD in history from the University of Florida in 1973. His MA and BA degrees came from Florida State University in 1967 and 1965.

Dr. Graham’s research interest is in Nineteenth Century United States History. He is the author of Flagler’s St. Augustine Hotels (Pineapple Press, 2004), The Awakening of St. Augustine (St. Augustine Historical Society, 1978) and Charles H. Jones, Journalist and Politician of the Gilded Age (University Presses of Florida, 1990).  Jones founded the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union in the 1880s.

He is a past president and honorary life member of the St. Augustine Historical Society and has served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Historical Society.

Born in Miami in 1943, his family tree reaches back through the Sanchez and Alvarez families to the early 1600s in St. Augustine.

He is currently researching and writing a book on Henry Flagler in St. Augustine.