A rising senior at Central High School in Phenix City was elected president of Boys Nation in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
It’s the first time someone from the Phenix City has obtained the title.
“I started crying,” Darius Thomas told the Ledger-Enquirer Wednesday morning. “It just means a lot to me and the fact that I won is just so honorable. For me to win out of all 97 of them, its such a big deal for me.”
Boys Nation is a program of the American Legion that teaches boys about the American political process.
Never miss a local story.
The program counts Tom Brokaw, Bill Clinton, Chris Christie and Michael Jordan among its alumni.
Candidates first go through their Boys State program, where they hold mock elections and government proceedings.
Two delegates from each state are selected to go to the Boys Nation conference in Washington.
“With Alabama, the two that go to Boys Nation are the governor and the lieutenant governor,” Thomas said. “Every state has a different way they choose that. I was elected governor for Alabama in Boys State, so I was able to go.”
In Washington, “senators” from 49 states introduce bills, hold debates, and tour the Capitol to learn the process of government.
After a grueling round of speeches and primary elections for the executive position, Thomas was elected president, 55 to 43.
His inauguration in the bag, Thomas will now spend some time signing legislation and debating with his Senate.
Oh, and traveling to the White House to meet President Donald Trump and members of Congress.
“Where I come from, nobody knows where I’m from,” he said. “And not only that, I come from a small city, and they may have a depreciated respect from my state. I want to restore that. It’s kind of amazing. My legion post really helped me, and were extremely proud of me. I’m the first one ever to win the president from their post. They did a lot of work to get me here. I’m proud of the fact that I came from Phenix City, because it made me what I am.”
Clay Ballenger, senior section counselor from Tulsa, Okla., said he was impressed with Thomas from the moment he met him at Boys Nation.
“His maturity and demeanor definitely set him apart from many of his fellow Boys Nation delegates,” Ballenger said. “Darius’ success at Boys Nation can be attributed to his knowledge of political issues as well as his charismatic personality. He can both lead an intelligent discussion among his peers and connect with them as an approachable and magnetic individual. He is a fine example of why the future of our country is in very capable hands.”
Thomas has big plans for the future. He said he was offered a full scholarship to the University of Alabama, and a hefty sum from Auburn University as well. He plans to attend one of those schools, major in political science, and then hopefully run for governor of Alabama some day.
“I love politics, I love government,” he said. “It’s one way for me to serve my country. I just think I have a very unique aspect of ways of looking at things. I thing I would be a great patriot.”
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE