An Unplanned Life: A Memoir

New Pr. Nov. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781620977576. $27.99. MEMOIR
Thomas achieved an historic sociopolitical impact within the Black community, the United States, and on an international level. Born to immigrant Barbadian parents in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, NY, Thomas excelled academically and attended Columbia Law. When Senator Robert F. Kennedy spearheaded urban revitalization in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Thomas was appointed executive director. In his own community, he mastered techniques of combining public and private funding with community engagement to affect meaningful change. This model was applied toward his work supporting anti-apartheid initiatives in South Africa during the 1970s onwards, and as the president of the Ford Foundation in the 1980s. He sought to further racial equality and made significant inroads. This book captures how Thomas didn’t directly seek out these opportunities but rather was chosen for positions, which played to his strengths. His first-person narrative is engaging. Poignantly relevant as the nation continues to struggle with racial conflict, his story will resonate with most readers.

CORRECTION: The original review incorrectly used Thomas's first name in references. LJ regrets the error.

VERDICT Thomas’s extraordinary life, lived in service to community, equality, and basic human rights, will inspire readers to accept the mantle of bettering society.
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