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Larry Thornton

Larry Thornton is an artist, entrepreneur, and servant leader. Growing up in segregated Montgomery, Alabama, he worked his way from sign painter to advertising manager at Coca-Cola Birmingham, and became the first African American to open a McDonald’s franchise in Birmingham, Alabama. He eventually opened multiple stores and created Thornton Enterprises, Inc. His book, Why Not Win? A Reflection on a 50-year Journey from the Segregated South to America’s Boardrooms — And What it Teaches Us All (NewSouth Books, April 1, 2019), serves as inspiration for people from all walks of life. Larry founded the Why Not Win Institute to make leadership development accessible. All book sales profit goes to support the institute’s mission. Learn more at