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Will Dwayne Thomas

Will Dwayne Thomas


PhD Candidate


Will Dwayne Thomas

Contact Me

304 Thach Hall

Personal Website

Office Hours

By Appointment


MA, Columbus State University

BA, Albany State University

About Me

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Will Thomas is a PhD student in 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. He was also awarded the highly competitive Presidential Graduate Opportunity Fellowship. His research focuses on 19th-century America, African American intellectual history, the Black radical tradition, W.E.B. Du Bois, and the Post-Emancipation era. Thomas’s research has been generously funded by the Auburn University Graduate School, the Department of History, and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity. Thomas is a member of the American Historical Association, the Southern Historical Association, and the African American Intellectual History Society. He is the former president of the Kappa Pi Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society at Auburn University. He is also an alumni member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

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 plight of Blacks in the U.S. 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 PhD student at Auburn, Thomas spent over a decade as an award-winning Georgia high school educator, teaching 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 U.S. 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 can be followed on Twitter@THEWILLTHOMAS, and on his personal website.

Research Interests

19th-Century America, African American Intellectual History, the Black radical tradition, W.E.B. Du Bois, Post-Emancipation era


“W.E.B. Du Bois,” in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Race & Racism (Routledge). (forthcoming 2021)


Conference Presentations

“Fancy Girls, Concubines, Yaller Gals, and Quadroons: The Scholarly Treatment of Enslaved Mixed-Race Women and Black-White Intimacies in the Antebellum Period in the United States,” Student Symposium in African American History, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA, February 26, 2019.

“The Caroline Alfred Letters: Revelations of Freedmen School Educators at the Claflin School in Columbus, Georgia, 1873- 1876,” Dr. Gregory P. Domin Graduate Research Conference, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA, November 7-8, 2018.