CTI Celebrates Local Black Leaders of Excellence ~ The Honorable Stacey Thompson
The Honorable Stacey Thompson
Nominated/Interviewed by Carl Howell, Chief Program Officer, Community Teamwork
CTI feels privileged to recognize the Honorable Stacey Thompson, Lowell School Committee Member and the Director of Workforce Learning & Development at Lowell Community Health Center.
Ms. Thompson is the first African-American elected to the School Committee and the first Black woman elected to any municipal office in the City of Lowell. She is humbled by what she feels is a tribute to Birdie Bell Malbory’s dream of an African-American sitting in an elected role after some 40 years since Birdie’s initial campaigns to become a City Councilor. While Ms. Thompson has broken though race and gender barriers, she identifies seeing the changes in engagement in our young people and finally having City leadership declare racism a public health crisis (albeit through contentious spaces and years of folks sharing very painful and traumatic experiences) as two of the most rewarding aspects of her roles as a member of the School Committee and DEI Consortium-Lowell.
Ms. Thompson’s perspective on Black history is that it is American History. It is often limited to stories of a few people and narratives of pain, suffering and poverty. Nevertheless, Black History is so rich. It does, and should, tell stories of overcoming the cruelties and inhumanity associated with slavery. However, to be a full history, it needs to shine a light on the ingenuity, the impacts, the very sweat equity that has allowed this nation to flourish in the ways that it has. Should it be relegated to one month? Absolutely not – although Ms. Thompson is glad that it does allow for all people to have a central focus and that unified work is done to amplify Black voices, work and people. Stacey expressed that, “Through ongoing conversations, we cannot change the hearts and minds of people without being willing to listen and learn. If you don’t know about Black history, educate yourself, bring it into your homes, your book clubs, your places of business, and in spaces like affinity clubs. Black history for too long has been seen as a non-priority but, to me, equipping young people and the community with the truth is never secondary. We need accountability to ensure it is being celebrated in every educational space and taught/incorporated throughout the year.”
It has been an honor for Ms. Thompson to experience seeing so many young people engage in her School Committee motions and reach out to her personally to thank her. She was humbled when she learned that her work in the community was being featured by students as a part of the Public School’s Civics Day Project.
Politics was not something Ms. Thompson ever was interested in pursuing. She didn’t have name recognition like some other folks who have either run for office before or who were a part of the political machine. However, she knew she needed to step up for our young people, especially with the civil unrest and the lack of representation in any number of spaces by people who looked like them. Stacey knew it was important for people to see a Black woman holding space and fighting for change – change that would not just be discussed, but implemented.
Her advice for the youth and future leaders – “Your voice matters. NEVER let anyone take your voice from you. Always walk in integrity. Remember, this is a MOVEMENT not a MOMENT. Lastly, your presence, your successes, the use of your voice, and your votes all make a difference. Protect your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health”, and also know that Stacey is there.
The City of Lowell is indebted to Ms. Thompson for her leadership, vulnerability and vision.
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