Brooklyn — New York State Supreme Court Justice William C. Thompson Sr., the first African American state senator from Brooklyn died December 24, 2018. He was 94.
Thompson served for 20 years on the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court until 2000 when he retired. Before that Thompson served as Assistant Administrative Judge in Charge of the Supreme Court for Brooklyn and Staten Island courts. He was first elected as a judge in 1974 as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Term, 2nd and 11th Districts (Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens) where he served from 1974 to 1978.
Before his tenure as a judge, Thompson, a Democrat, served as Brooklyn’s first African American state senator. He served in three different senatorial districts, including the 11th, 19th and 18th consecutively, between 1965 to 1968.
He also served on the New York City Council from 1969 to 1973.
Raised in Crown Heights, Thompson attended Franklin K. Lane in East New York. He graduated from Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Law School. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II as a member of the “Buffalo Soldiers” regiment—an all-black cavalry in the U.S. Army.
Several politicians expressed their condolences on social media, including long-time friend, Borough President Eric Adams.
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. pic.twitter.com/hLvbbk7BHY
— Eric Adams (@ericadamsfornyc) December 25, 2018
“I join all Brooklynites in mourning the passing of retired New York State Supreme Court Justice William C. Thompson Sr., a man who I have been honored to call a friend and confidant for so many years,” said Borough President Eric Adams in a statement. “Our One Brooklyn family will collectively carry Justice Thompson’s torch in the struggle for justice going forward.”
William Thompson Sr. showed us the best of public service.
He broke barriers, pushed boundaries, and leaves an important legacy for all New Yorkers.
Our warmest condolences to his son and former Comptroller, Bill Thompson, his daughter Gail, and the whole family. He is missed.
— Scott M. Stringer (@NYCComptroller) December 26, 2018
Thompson leaves behind two children, Gail and Bill Thompson. Bill Thompson, served as New York City Comptroller from 2002 to 2009 and opposed then-Mayor Bloomberg during a 2009 mayoral election.
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. We send our deepest condolences to his son Bill, his daughter Gail and all his family and loved ones.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 25, 2018
“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,” Mayor de Blasio tweeted on Christmas Eve.