Being black in America often comes with several presumptions and stigmas, especially being a black American male. During my senior year in high school, I crossed paths with Representative Rickey Thompson of the Mississippi House of Representatives, and that intersection left a lasting impression which is helping to shape me into who I am growing to be.
I met Mr. Thompson during my middle school years and I automatically respected his concern for the issues in our community. I would see him speaking up on behalf of others about injustices and always offering encouragement and hope during speaking engagements. During my senior year of high school, Mr. Thompson sponsored me as a junior page of the Mississippi House of Representatives. He showed that qualities of always being there, being respectful and respected, maintaining integrity even during times of question, showing compassion and generosity to others, being true in public and private allowed me to be inspired with such an up close and personal view. He proved that he was actually “walking the talk” and that a true lifestyle can be fact and not a myth.
As we discussed his pathway to his congressional seat of the 16th district, I learned that he came from very humble beginnings, was formerly in the medical field as a nurse, and held a judicial seat in which his character and integrity was questioned, yet he believed that he could make a difference for himself and others. He did not allow others’ opinions of him or adversity detour his journey to doing great things. His belief of faith and honesty kept him grounded and is allowing him to continue the journey in helping others.
Mr. Thompson is the reason I am at Alcorn State University. He asked about my career goals and not only gave me information about Alcorn, but helped me with contacts to advance my transition from high school to college. He kept on following up to make sure that I was headed down the right path. He showed that he was not just a starter, but a cultivator, who wanted to not just see success, but help people be successful as well.
Our conversations continue to grow, and Mr. Thompson has proven to be a true mentor. He regularly remains in contact and seeks updates about my educational and life journey. His hellos or brief text messages may not seem like much to him, but they inspire me to always be the person you say you are and give back every chance you can, even if in small ways. Those small acts can inspire in such a big way. I don’t know if life will lead me to a congressional seat, but I can live a true life, even when no one seems to be looking.