By Daphne Higgins
Just as he did in 2000, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson had the members and guests of College Hill Missionary Baptist Church of Jackson clapping in agreement from the message he shared during the church’s annual Men’s Day program.
This year’s program, which was held Sunday, June 17, was the finale of a weekend filled with activities for the laymen of the church and guests. The celebration began with a Men’s Prayer Breakfast Saturday, June 9, followed by a Father/Son Banquet Friday, June 15. The banquet speaker was the Honorable Carlton W. Reeves, U. S. District Court Judge of the Southern District. Reeves set the stage for Thompson’s Sunday appearance.
Reeves reminded everyone present of their individual power; the power of one (vote). “Your vote is the equalizer,” he said. “No matter your age, race or income, you need to vote. You need to participate in our democracy, and fathers, you need to take your sons, your children, to the polls. You have the power.”
The celebration continued Saturday with fellowship during the annual Fathers and Family Picnic.
Before Thompson took the floor, the 2012 Man of the Year at College Hill, James Curry, was honored. Curry, a lifelong member of the church, is active in several ministries and assists anywhere he can. Curry is married to Jacqueline, and they are the parents of three children: Monica, Paul James and Hannah.
As Thompson began to set the stage for his speech, the 43-year public servant congratulated College Hill on being a mainstay in the West Jackson community.
“You didn’t’ abandon the community; you stayed here,” Thompson said.
“Men, we have to be more than breath and britches. We have to lead by example. I encourage you, College Hill, to continue doing that.”
Thompson shared with the congregation that there are more black men in jail than in college. He encouraged everyone in the sanctuary to be proactive in turning this statistic around; to have a vision, to invest in young people, to be active in outreach ministries, to be appreciative and to be supportive of others.
Thompson said, “I’ve gotten questions about why I recommend people who look like us. I was told I need to level this thing up. Well, that’s what I’m trying to do.”
As he ended his speech, he left all of the men present with a charge – “Lead by example but first, set the example.”
Thompson, himself an example, has blazed a trail for many to follow. Early in his political career, he served as an alderman and mayor of Bolton, Miss. He later served as a county supervisor for Hinds County and in 1993 was elected as the democratic congressman for the Second District of Mississippi.
He is presently serving his ninth term as Congressman and is the longest-serving African American elected official in the state of Mississippi.
He recently made history by serving as the first democratic chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
Thompson is married to London, and they are the parents of one daughter and two grandchildren.
(See photo highlights on page 5.)