Wayne County Community College District, Michigan’s largest urban community college with an estimated 70,000 students across five campuses, will host a Special Leadership Luncheon and Book Conversation featuring Bankole Thompson, the nationally renowned Black journalist and standard-bearer for racial and economic justice issues.
Thompson, who is known for holding the powerful accountable, and serving as a towering voice for racial and economic justice issues, will appear at WCCCD’s Northwest Campus at the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 11am to discuss and sign copies of his latest book, Fiery Conscience, which was released in August.
The book, a compendium of insightful and analytical essays documents Thompson’s more than two decades of speaking truth to power, and his liberating impact on marginalized and underserved communities.
At the Leadership Luncheon organized by the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Thompson, will discuss issues crucial in the modern Black freedom struggle, the state of our democracy, and how institutions and individuals can be powerful agents of social change.
Thompson, who just returned from Dillard University in New Orleans, one of the nation’s prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities, where he gave an Oct. 5 talk about the book, is the executive dean of The PuLSE Institute, an independent anti-poverty think tank in Detroit, which was founded five years ago based on his influential work on issues of race, democracy and poverty.
He is a twice-a-week opinion columnist at The Detroit News, where he writes about the presidency, public leadership, culture and economic justice issues. His column appears on Mondays and Thursdays in the newspaper.
A journalistic thought leader who is noted for pushing the envelope, Thompson, continues to challenge institutions and organizations to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice.
For example, in a compelling keynote lecture he delivered in 2022 for Brown University Black History Month Forum on Race and Democracy hosted by President Christina Paxson, Thompson raised the issue of reparatory justice, and called on the Ivy League institution to become an unquestioned ally in the struggle for racial equality.
In giving the 20th keynote lecture for Michigan State University’s Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey Lecture Series on Feb. 27, 2020, Thompson spoke extensively about Black lamentations and the redemptive need for healing in American democracy.
Most recently, he urged in an Oct. 11 keynote address before lawyers, prosecutors and judges who were in attendance for the Washtenaw County Bar Association 2023 Annual Bias Reception under the theme of Affirmative Action, to respond to the issues of inequality with a fierce sense of urgency and courage.
Because of his significant impact as a leading voice on the political and cultural landscape, Thompson was named this year to the National Board of Directors of the historic Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the signature civil rights organization founded by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who served as its first president, and which led the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s.
He was nominated for a seat on the governing board of the organization that Dr. King personally infused his legacy into by SCLC Board Chairman Dr. Bernard LaFayette Jr., a veteran civil rights leader, and one of the last remaining and most trusted lieutenants of Dr. King.
LaFayette, has long been an admirer of Thompson’s courageous work and his profound commitment to the issues affecting the Black community.
His book, Fiery Conscience, has received wide acclaim from influential quarters across the country including from 2022 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient, Sister Simone Campbell, the leading social justice voice in the American Catholic Church.
“In the midst of these turbulent times in our nation, we need Fiery Conscience more than ever. We are all called to speak out for the sake of truth and struggle together across divides to realize a justice that includes all. Bankole Thompson does just that and his witness can nourish our spirits,” Campbell wrote in endorsing the book.
Dr. Ashraf Esmail, endowed professor of criminal justice and the executive director of the Center for Racial Justice at Dillard University said, “Through journalism, Bankole has challenged us to create a more equal and just society for everyone. Fiery Conscience is a must read for those interested in understanding the importance of journalism as an avenue in changing society.”
Reverend Leonard L. Hamlin Sr., the Canon Missioner and Minister of Equity and Inclusion at the Washington National Cathedral, is also among those praising the book.
“The problems of our past are not resolved by turning a blind-eye, or by commitment to silence. Bankole Thompson’s needed witness displayed a courage and faith that inspires us to move beyond complacency and into prophetic action. His ‘Impactful Journalism’ has raised the uncomfortable questions and exposed circumstances that were in need of transformation,” Hamlin wrote. “It is a must read for those who have a concern for where we have been but more importantly for where we are headed as a community.”