Bankole Thompson, a significant voice on the cultural landscape and a distinguished and nationally renowned Black journalist, author and social critic, has accepted the invitation to deliver the keynote address at New St. Paul Tabernacle Church of God in Christ in Detroit for its 2023 Black History Month Celebration on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 10am.
Thompson, who is the author of the forthcoming book, “Fiery Conscience,” set to be released later this year will speak at the historic church, which was the seat of the late legendary and influential Bishop P.A. Brooks, who was the senior pastor, and also served as the second in command of COGIC, the nation’s largest Black Christian denomination, in the capacity of First Assistant Presiding Bishop.
Bishop Brooks, was the longtime dean of the faith community in Detroit, the nation’s largest African American city. New St. Paul Tabernacle Church of God in Christ under his leadership over the years played host to some of the most important cultural and political icons in the African American community including the late Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, former Detroit’s first Black legendary Mayor Coleman A. Young, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and several others. Major presidential candidates sought his counsel including Bill Clinton, who visited the church during his bid for the White House in the 1990s.
In 2009, Bishop Brooks, was among a select group of leading Black clergy in the nation invited to pray with then President Barack Obama at the Washington National Cathedral on the eve of the historic inauguration.
Bishop Brooks, who died in 2020 at 88, had a profound admiration and respect for Thompson’s courageous journalistic leadership whom he considered a crucial voice in the African American community. The two would periodically meet for lunch or breakfast to discuss issues of great significance affecting Black people in Detroit and around the country.
In 2014, during a ceremony marking the centennial of the Church of God in Christ in Michigan and Canada at Cobo Convention Hall in downtown Detroit, which was officiated by then COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., Thompson was presented with the “Centennial Journalist Award,” for speaking truth to power and highlighting issues important to the Black church.
The week following the 2015 massacre of nine parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a notorious White supremacist, Bishop Brooks invited Thompson to give the Sunday keynote address at his church that centered on how the killings in a Black church in the modern age forces the nation to confront racism.
Thompson is the executive dean of The PuLSE Institute, a prestigious national anti-poverty think tank, headquartered in Detroit. He is an opinion columnist at The Detroit News, where he writes a twice-a-week column on presidential politics, culture, leadership and socioeconomic issues. His column appears on Mondays and Thursdays. He is host of REDLINE, a daily two-hour radio show on 910AM Super Station-Detroit, which is broadcast 11am-1pm weekdays. He also hosts Sunday Nation, a weekly television program on MyTV38 WADL-Detroit, airing Sundays from 1pm-2pm.
He has appeared before leading organizations as speaker including the 2011 Providence Branch NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner, 2012 American Jewish Committee Distinguished Leadership Dinner, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 50th Anniversary and 2011 Federal Bench and Bar Conference for the Eastern District of Michigan.
He delivered the keynote lecture at the 2020 Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey Lecture Series at Michigan State University, whose previous speakers included Harry Belafonte and the late Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis.
He was the keynote speaker for Brown University Feb. 24, 2022 Black History Month Program titled, “Race and Democracy in the Era of Black Lives Matter: Why Major Institutions Must Address the Fierce Urgency of Racial Justice.”
He delivered the April 7, 2022 keynote lecture on race and income inequality at Dillard University in New Orleans, one of the nation’s most prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
He is the author of a pair of books on President Barack Obama based on his exclusive sit-down interviews with Obama.
In recognition of his work as a thought leader, the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library in 2015 established the “Bankole Thompson Papers,” a comprehensive physical and digital collection to preserve his work for posterity. The Bentley houses the papers of every Michigan governor.