Congressman Bennie G. Thompson is a firm believer of giving back to those whom afforded him an opportunity to serve. His 45 years of public service is a testament to his unwavering dedication to fulfill their expectations and to be the resounding voice for the constituents of the Second District of Mississippi.
As a young man growing up in rural Bolton, Mississippi, Thompson was well aware of the realities that plagued the South. The experiences that his family endured made him determined to be an advocate for those of who were oftentimes underserved.
While earning his Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science degrees from Tougaloo College and Jackson State University, respectively, Thompson began to develop his grassroots political activism. He joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and helped to organize voter registration drives for African-Americans in the Mississippi Delta. As a product of the Civil Rights Movement, Thompson has remained committed to ensuring that all people are allowed to exercise their fundamental rights.
After graduating from college, Thompson followed in the footsteps of his mother and worked as a schoolteacher. It was during this time that he began to aggressively pursue a career in politics.
Local Public Service
From 1968 to 1972, Thompson served as alderman, and he went on to serve as mayor from 1973 to 1980 in Bolton, Mississippi. As mayor of Bolton, Mississippi and founding member and President of the Mississippi Association of Black Mayors, he initiated policies and provided services that benefited the underserved citizens of his hometown.
While in the capacity of mayor, Thompson made sure that resources were invested to improve the city’s infrastructure, paved streets in rural areas, renovated dilapidated houses in developing neighborhoods, spearheaded the construction of city hall, and reevaluated the town’s real estate to reflect accurate values. For years prior to that time, white officials had been deliberately undervaluing the property.
In 1975, having firsthand knowledge of the disparity between funding, equipment, and supplies provided to historically black universities and those provided to white colleges, Thompson filed a lawsuit to increase funding at Mississippi’s historically black universities. With Thompson as lead plaintiff, the case was subsequently settled for an unprecedented $503 million.
From 1980 to 1993, Thompson served as County Supervisor for Hinds County and was the founding member and President of the state’s Association of Black Supervisors. His reputation of being a pragmatic local public servant afforded him an opportunity to be the vocal champion for his constituents.
National Public Service
In 1993, the people of the Second District believed they would be best served if Thompson was in a national position of reform. They bestowed their trust in Thompson, as he was elected the Democratic Congressman for Mississippi’s Second District. Congressman Thompson’s Second District is comprised of 26 counties – Attala, Bolivar, Carroll, Claiborne, Coahoma, Copiah, Grenada, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Leake, Leflore, Madison, Montgomery, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tunica, Warren, Washington, Yalobusha and Yazoo.
Presently serving his ninth term as Congressman and being the longest-serving African-American elected official in the state of Mississippi, Thompson’s stellar voting record is indicative of his determination to be an activist for reform. Congressman Thompson has served on the Agriculture, Budget and Small Business Committees.
In 2000, Thompson authored legislation creating the National Center for Minority Health and Health Care Disparities, which subsequently became law. He received a Presidential appointment to serve on the National Council on Health Planning and Development.
In August 2005, the state of Mississippi was not unscathed by the natural disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, respectively. Congressman Thompson aggressively advocated for disaster relief improvements within government agencies, and provided oversight to ensure that federal funds were properly allocated for Gulf Coast recovery.
In 2006, during the 109th Congress, Thompson’s Washington colleagues expressed their overwhelming confidence in his abilities, as they promoted him to serve as the first Democratic Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. As Chairman, Congressman Thompson introduced and engineered House passage of the most comprehensive homeland security package since September 11, 2001- H.R. 1, the “9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007”. Congressman Thompson’s reputation as a no-nonsense visionary has provided him an opportunity to serve his third term as Chairman.
Thompson’s 26 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter motivates him to aggressively advocate on behalf of our law enforcement and first responders. He believes that they should receive the necessary resources and tools to effectively respond to any and all emergencies.
Everyday, Congressman Thompson witnesses the inequities that continue to exist in this great country of ours. His progressive, yet realistic, approach is to overcome the disparities and be the unabashed champion for civil rights, equal education, and healthcare reform not only for his constituents but also for all Americans.
The recent election of President Barack Obama has added new energy to America. Thus, Congressman Thompson remains invigorated in his efforts to serve as the eyes and ears for the people of the Second District of Mississippi.
Congressman Thompson is a lifelong member of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Bolton, Mississippi. He has been married to his college sweetheart, London Johnson of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, for 44 years. The couple has one daughter BendaLonne, one granddaughter, Jeanna and one grandson, Thomas Gordon.
Congressman Thompson is an avid outdoorsman. He also enjoys gardening, reading, and listening to blues music.