by Max Brantley
It's the 30th anniversary year for the Central High School Class of 1980. Has it really been 30 years since Roosevelt Thompson was Central valedictorian, a National Merit scholar bound for Yale? He would be named a Rhodes Scholar in 1984, but his great promise was never realized. He was killed in an auto accident in the spring of his senior year at Yale. He's memorialized today by a Little Rock library branch and an award at Yale, among others.
Classmates at the Central reunion this year saw an extended trailer from a rough cut of a documentary on his life by a Yale classmate. It'll make anybody who knew Rosey choke up all over again. Here's a biography. And here's a link to the website of the organization working on the documentary. Contributions welcome.
A member of the class of 1980 writes:
Thank you so much for the article on Roosevelt, or as we liked to call him, Rosey. Rosey and I grew up financially in the same way. I am white, he was black. I have eaten dinner at his house and that is just the kind of guy he was. Color did not matter to Rosey, nor to me. As successful as he was in school, he always would take time to speak to everyone. I wasn't in the best shape at Little Rock Central but he did not care. I am 48 years old and I have never met another Rosey. It was said at our reunion that we have the chance to meet a person like Roosevelt once in a hundred years. I believe that to be true with all my heart. The class of 1980 will never be completely over losing Rosey. Yes, I have no doubt that he would have been our first black governor and even president. Thank you again for paying tribute to our dear friend.
K. Jeron Gray