Bankole Thompson is a distinguished and nationally renowned Black journalist, author and cultural critic, whose work is known for probing uncomfortable issues of race, freedom and justice. He is the executive dean and editor-in-chief of The PuLSE Institute, a prestigious national anti-poverty think tank, headquartered in Detroit, the nation’s largest African American city.
Considered Detroit’s columnist of conscience, Thompson, is an opinion columnist at The Detroit News, where he writes a twice-a-week column on presidential politics, culture, diversity, leadership, equity and socioeconomic issues. His column appears on Mondays and Thursdays in the newspaper. He is Michigan’s leading Black opinion columnist, whose work pricks the conscience of the powerful. He is the host of REDLINE with Bankole Thompson, a daily two-hour radio program on 910AM Super Station-Detroit, which is broadcast 11am-1pm weekdays, and is the most influential and only daily Black talk radio in the state with a focus on the issues affecting Black Michigan. Thompson has hosted live broadcast of his show from Benton Harbor to Grand Rapids touching on the issues of race, leadership and economic justice affecting Black people in Michigan.
A sought-after speaker, Thompson has appeared before many and diverse leading organizations as speaker including the 2011 Providence Branch NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner, the 2012 American Jewish Committee Distinguished Leadership Dinner, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 50th Anniversary and the 2011 Federal Bench and Bar Conference for the Eastern District of Michigan. He delivered the keynote address at the 2020 Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey Lecture Series at Michigan State University, whose previous speakers include Harry Belafonte and John Lewis. He was the keynote speaker for Brown University Feb. 24, 2022 Black History Month Program titled, “Race and Democracy in the Era of Black Lives Matter: Why Major Institutions Must Address the Fierce Urgency of Racial Justice.” Thompson most recently delivered the April 7, 2022 keynote lecture on race and income inequality at Dillard University in New Orleans, one of the nation’s most prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities founded during the period of Reconstruction. Because of his widely received lecture in New Orleans, Thompson, was appointed to the Executive Board of the Center for Racial Justice at Dillard University, where he will help guide the university’s racial justice vision in molding the next generation of transformational leaders.
In 2018, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Rev Jesse Jackson Sr. awarded him the Let Freedom Ring Journalism Award on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death for speaking truth to power.
Among those who have praised Thompson’s work include civil rights leader Dr. Bernard Lafayette, National Coordinator of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, and the chairman of the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference co-founded by Dr. King.
He is the author of a pair of books on President Barack Obama based on his exclusive sit-down interviews with Obama. Thompson has made numerous media appearances, including CNN’s Inside Politics, especially during the 2020 presidential election about how Black America will influence the election as well as making the case for a racially diverse Democratic presidential ticket.
In recognition of his work as a trailblazing journalist and thought leader, the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library in 2015 established the “Bankole Thompson Papers,” a comprehensive physical and digital collection to preserve his work for posterity. The Bentley houses the papers of every Michigan governor and significant leaders.