Bennie G. Thompson
Bennie G. Thompson has served in Congress for over 28 years representing the state of Mississippi. He has spent his career fighting for the voiceless. While attending Tougaloo College and Jackson State University, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and helped to organize voter registration drives for African-Americans in the Mississippi Delta during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
After graduating from college, Congressman Thompson followed in the footsteps of his mother and worked as a schoolteacher before entering a career in elected public service. After serving as alderman and mayor in his hometown of Bolton, MS for 12 years, he served as Hinds County Supervisor for 13 years before being elected to Congress in 1993. Throughout his tenure, he focused on social and structural determinants of health such as improving roads, water and sewer systems, as well as housing. He was an early supporter of nurses during his time in Hinds County, partnering with local leaders, championing matters such as equitable pay and staffing as well as working to close the gap in health care disparities through legislative policy making and promoting equitable care.
Having entered public service in 1968, he is now the longest-serving African-American elected official in the state of Mississippi, known to fight for the poor and underserved populations of Black, Brown and Indigenous People of Color in his state and across the United States. Congressman Thompson was a founding member of the Mississippi Association of Black Mayors where he instituted policies and provided services benefiting Bolton’s underserved. In 1975, he was a plaintiff in a lawsuit that resulted in a $503 million increase in funding for Mississippi’s historically black universities. A true champion and friend of nursing, Congressman Thompson has a strong track record of collaborating with nursing to advance the health of poor and underserved people in his state and throughout the United States.
Notably, Congressman Thompson authored the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-525, (S1880) that created the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities that later became a center and now is the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health. This Institute has spearheaded some of the most relevant research and translation of the science to decrease health disparities in this country. After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the State of Mississippi, Congressman Thompson aggressively advocated for disaster relief improvements within government agencies, in particular FEMA, and provided oversight to ensure that federal funds, including for health care, were properly allocated for the Gulf Coast recovery.
Congressman Thompson served on the Agriculture, Budget and Small Business Committees before assuming the top Democratic position on the Homeland Security Committee in 2005. Soon after, his colleagues promoted Congressman Thompson to serve as the first ever Democratic Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.