Two-hour event at New Faith Temple Church of God in Christ in Grand Rapids will examine race and police reform in the wake of the April 4 death of 26-year-old Black man Patrick Lyoya
Bankole Thompson, the distinguished Black journalist, author and cultural critic, whose didactic work in Detroit and around the country, is known for probing issues of systemic racism and the persistence of White supremacy and the challenges of freedom and justice in the modern era, will host a live town hall in Grand Rapids next week on police reform at a church, one block away from the site of the April 4 killing of 26-year-old Black man Patrick Lyoya by White Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr.
The special two-hour broadcast will air on 910AM Super Station on Wednesday, May 11, 11am-1pm from the New Faith Temple Church of God in Christ, 1701 Kalamazoo Ave, SE Grand Rapids. The forum which is open to the public, will explore issues at the center of the demand for racial justice and constitutional and equitable policing in the wake of the gruesome death of George Floyd.
Thompson is the host of the popular daily two-hour hard-hitting political commentary and urban affairs program REDLINE with Bankole Thompson on 910AM, Monday-Friday, 11am-1pm, which is broadcast across Michigan and in parts of Canada, Ohio and Indiana.
“The issue of racism is beyond local in its implication, so the range of alternative courses of action must become expanded. That is why having Bankole Thompson, a preeminent Black journalist and author, who is a trusted voice and vanguard for racial justice in the nation, and the standard bearer for racial equity and inclusion in the mainstream media in Michigan, emerge not just upon the City of Grand Rapids, but share his time at New Faith Temple Church of God in Christ, blocks from where Patrick Lyoya’s life was robbed from him is significant,” said Deidric Tupper, the senior pastor of the church. “Pastoring a community church goes far beyond a thought provoking and life changing message delivered from the pulpit on Sundays. It means wrapping your arms around a broken and hurting community experiencing a justice drought. It means asking hard questions of community leaders. It means standing against injustice anywhere, as it becomes a threat everywhere.”
Tupper said the death of Lyoya has placed Grand Rapids front and center of the question of racial profiling.
“Some issues might be highly relevant to members of a community, or a segment thereof, and at the same time they are perceived as requiring impossible decisions or lacking unreachable resources to resolve. This is one of those moments in the life of the city of Grand Rapids,” Tupper said. “When the leaders of a local community are encumbered with an issue as disturbing as racial profiling, driving while Black or the overarching problem of racism within our law enforcement agencies who are given the task to ‘protect and serve,’ a brighter light must be shined on this challenge.”
He added, “That is why we are inviting everyone to join us on May 11 for this special town hall conversation on 910AM about not just the future of the Black community in Grand Rapids, but across Michigan and the rest of the nation. And no one has been a more trusted, courageous and passionate voice for us in speaking truth to power in the Black community than Bankole Thompson.”
Over the years, Thompson, has served as the lead convener and moderator of major town halls and forums across the state on crucial issues important to the Black community including the Benton Harbor water crisis, as well as the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial town hall on poverty at Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School in Detroit, which was attended by all Democratic candidates running for governor including current Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Thompson is the executive dean and editor-in-chief of The PuLSE Institute, a prestigious, innovative, authentic and independent national anti-poverty think tank headquartered in Detroit, the nation’s largest Black city. The founding of the Institute was inspired by his influential work on poverty, race and democracy, and it has a National Advisory Panel made up of luminaries and anti-poverty champions of the last half century. That includes civil rights leader Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a Freedom Rider and top aide to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who served as National Coordinator of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, the watershed moment of the Civil Rights Movement.
As the premier Black columnist in Detroit, and the most outspoken and influential voice on racial equality in the mainstream media in Michigan, Thompson, writes a twice-a-week opinion column in The Detroit News, where his independent, candid, searing, impactful analysis and commentary challenges the status quo. His column, which focuses on the presidency, public opinion, culture and socioeconomic issues appears on Mondays and Thursdays.
A national thought leader, Bankole Thompson, 43, was recently appointed to the Executive Board of the Center for Racial Justice at Dillard University in New Orleans, one of the oldest and most prominent Black colleges in the nation. Established during the period of reconstruction, Dillard University’s alumni list includes the Reverend Martin Luther King Sr., the father of Dr. King, Ambassador and civil rights leader Andrew Young, Ellis Marselis Jr., the globally renowned jazz composer and educator, Ruth Simmons, the first Black female president of an Ivy League university institution and other transcending Black figures.
His appointment to help guide the modern racial justice vision of one of the most revered institutions of higher learning in Black America, follows a resounding keynote lecture he delivered on April 7 at the University titled: Race and Poverty: A Question of Leadership and Ending the Nightmare of Black Exploitation, which specifically focused on income inequality and racism.
Dillard University, which gave Thompson an award, called the lecture a thought-provoking presentation for students and hailed his appointment as a significant advancement in its commitment to tackling racial equality issues in the modern era.
A sought after speaker, Thompson was also the keynote speaker for Brown University Forum on Race and Democracy in the Era of Black Lives Matter held Feb. 24, 2022 in honor of Black History Month, during which he challenged the Ivy League school and other major White institutions to step up on racial equity.