DETROIT, MI, USA April 19-The Council of Bishops of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the largest African American Christian demonination in the nation with 6.5million membership, and where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his last speech on the eve of his death in Memphis, will present the “Centennial Journalist Award” to Bankole Thompson, a leading journalist of the Obama era.
Thompson, will receive the “Centennial Journalist Award”, April 26, at Cobo Convention Center in Detroit during the 100 year celebrations of the Michigan/Canada jurisdictions of COGIC.
In an April 4 letter to Thompson, the COGIC Council of Bishops noted, “You were selected in recognition of the outstanding journalistic and editorial skills you have employed in addressing important and critical issues in our community.”
Thompson, editor of the Michigan Chronicle, where his editorial leadership has put the paper on front street, has written two didactic books on President Obama. He is one of the first journalists in the country to have a series of exclusive sit-down interviews with Obama.
COGIC’s recognition of Thompson as a “Centennial Journalist,” at the turn of the century for COGIC, the dominant African American Christian denomination, underscores the work he’s done in the wake of the historic presidency of Barack Obama, the most important political development in this century.
Thompson has been forcefully speaking to the critical issues framing the Obama era. For example, in the last six years he has been a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” Sunday evening program on New York radio WLIB-1190AM. The hour and a half program is simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut.
Former White House spokesman Robert Weiner, wrote the epilogue to Thompson’s second book titled “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” which deals with Obama’s faith posture on issues, black theology and politics, the role of the religious right, Rev Jeremiah Wright and the influence of faith in national politics.
Weiner described the book which came out at a time when some prominent figures in the religious right were questioning Obama’s faith, and a Pew Research showing others wrongly believed the president is a Muslim, as “an important reference on the intersection of religion and presidential politics.”
COGIC’s First Assistant Presiding Bishop and the Guest Chaplain of the 102nd Congress, P.A. Brooks, praised the book as a lasting contribution to understanding the faith and policy vision of America’s first black president.
“Bankole Thompson knows and proves that outlining a correct relationship between American Christians and the president requires a careful look at the actual policies of the man and the real voice of the Scripture-nothing less than an educated understanding of both politics and religion,” Bishop Brooks wrote about Thompson’s book “Obama and Christian Loyalty.”
Thompson’s first book “Obama and Black Loyalty,” published in 2010 about President Obama’s relationship with black America across a wide range of policy issues was launched at Wayne State Law School by Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a top aide to Dr. King, and National Coordinator of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, the watershed moment of the American civil rights movement.
In launching the book, Dr. Lafayette, a graduate of Harvard University and a major figure of the non-violent philosophy movement in his keynote address said Thompson’s book, the first to document significant issues about blacks and Obama just two years into the historic presidency, is the “conscience of the Obama era for probing issues important to African Americans.”
The centennial keynote speaker is the Presiding Bishop of COGIC Charles E. Blake, a former member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Faith-based Partnerships at the White House, and the man that Danzel Washington described as his “pastor and spiritual mentor.”
Bishop Blake is the senior pastor of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles where Stevie Wonder, Magic Johnson, actress Alfre Woodard and other prominent black figures call their church home.
The one time award, the decision of the COGIC Council of Bishops, created specifically to honor the contributions of Thompson, on the issues that matter shows how his work continues to influence society including the top levels of Christian leadership in the nation.
In his response to the rare recognition, Thompson, wrote back to the COGIC Council of Bishops.
“Your decision to honor my work on the 100 year anniversary of COGIC’s existence in the jurisdictions named clearly shows the intersection of faith, policy and media. I accept this award on behalf of many journalists who continue to speak truth to power and courageously articulating the issues that matter in the human experience as well as in the African American struggle for social and economic empowerment,” Thompson wrote. “To be called a ‘Centennial Journalist’ by COGIC, an organization that is at the center of black life and spirituality is an honor beyond any measure.”
Bankole Thompson, is a distinguished journalist, author and senior political analyst. For more information visit http://www.bankolethompson.com