Justice William Thompson, Brooklyn’s first Black State Senator, dies at 94

A view of New York State Supreme Court (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

William C. Thompson Sr., Brooklyn’s first African American State Senator, and a former state Supreme Court justice, passed away on Christmas Eve. He was 94.

As reported by The New York Daily News, the longtime public servant fought in World War II as part of the Army’s “Buffalo Soldiers” division. He made history when he was elected to state Senate in 1965. Thompson held that seat until 1969 then was elected to the City Council where he served for four years before being elected to the state Supreme Court’s second department Appellate Division. He served on the court for nearly three decades until his retirement in 2000.

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Thompson leaves behind his son, former city Comptroller Bill Thompson and daughter Gail. Mr. Thompson’s wife, Elaine, died in 2010.

City officials mourned his death on Christmas Day.

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“Across five decades, Justice Thompson was the embodiment of the principles we expect out of public service,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said in a statement. “Our One Brooklyn family will collectively carry Justice Thompson’s torch in the struggle for justice going forward.”

Adams added: I spent time with Judge William Thompson and his family during his last birthday this year. I am going to miss his wit and humor, but old photos like this one remind me of the many laughs and good times we shared together.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio praised Thompson’s lifetime commitment to combating “racism and injustice in our city.”

“As a judge and the first African American state senator from Brooklyn, William C. Thompson Sr. stood up against racism and injustice in our city for decades,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We send our deepest condolences to his son Bill, his daughter Gail and all his family and loved ones.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo stated: “William Thompson, Sr. spent a lifetime of service to New York. ‘He was a trailblazer and our thoughts are with his family.”