Auburn Family

Thom Gossom, an honorable Auburn alumnus, has accomplished a lot of things in his lifetime. Gossom from Birmingham Alabama decided to come to Auburn University during the 1970’s. However Thom was not exactly invited to come to auburn. Gossom decided to walk on to the Auburn University football team. Gossom went through many trials while at auburn, being one of the few African American students at Auburn.

Gossom says, “My time at Auburn really made me the man I am today and I am truly thankful.”

Thom Gossom, Jr. did not set out to be a groundbreaker. He did not apply to Auburn University with the goal of being the first black athlete to graduate from the almost all-white college. He just knew that he wanted to play football and he wanted to play at Auburn. Gossom Jr. wrote a book named Walk-On to tell his story.

However Walk-On not only tells the story of how Gossom earned a spot on Auburn's football team, but it also offers a unique perspective on the major social change sweeping college athletics during the 1970's.

A gifted athlete and good student, Gossom was accepted to Auburn University and forever left the comfort of his segregated hometown boyhood to enter into a world of privilege that was just starting to grapple with desegregation. Loneliness, anger, jealousy and overt racism awaited him on and off the football field.

As Gossom fought for his place on the team and on campus he became part of the movement to make the world a better place for those who were to come after him, and in doing so, became a part of history.  From talking to Gossoms’ college roommate, James Owens "Thom was another kind of hero, a true and courageous leader of men, intelligent and big enough to love a place that didn't always love him back."

When asking about what motivated him to tell his story Gossom said, “Walk-On is for all those people who've ever walked on to anything, who decided they wanted to do something and set their minds to do it. Maybe they were uninvited. Maybe the odds were against them. Maybe they got knocked down. But they got up and they achieved." Thom Gossom, Jr.

Gossom received his Bachelor of Arts in communication from Auburn University where he was the second Black Auburn football player and perhaps the first Black athlete to walk on and earn a scholarship in the Southeastern Conference. He later went on to earn a Master of Arts in communication from The University of Montevallo. After a couple of years in the NFL Gossom, began his career at Bellsouth in the office of Public Relations. In 1987, Gossom struck out on his own, starting his own PR Firm to supplement his writing and acting adventures. Gossom is an active member of the Academy of Television, the Auburn Magazine Advisory Board, and the NAACP.

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