The Rev. Mark A. Thompson has spent most of his life as a political, civil rights & human rights activist and organizer. He not only has been a part of every major social justice movement & event over the past 40 years, he has also been a radio broadcaster for three decades, and he has spent over 10 years as a television commentator, as well. Rev. Mark hosts Make It Plain (MIP), a political, human rights and breaking news podcast. Rev. Mark’s lifelong social justice activism intersects with his years of experience broadcasting the news and issues of the day. Newsmakers, politicos, policy-makers, entertainers and athletes alike make MIP a frequent sojourn.
Rev. Mark was honored at the 104th Annual NAACP Convention in Orlando in July 2013 “for 25 years of crusading journalism and outstanding leadership in furthering the work of civil and human rights.”
Rev. Mark is the great-great grandson of the Rev. William F. Simons, who organized Miles CME Church in Washington, DC in 1883, and the great-great grandson of the Rev. Joseph Keill, who organized Zion MB Church in Nashville, Tennessee in 1885. Rev. Mark was born in Washington, DC and reared in Nashville, Tennessee by a loving mother, Janet Elizabeth Petway Thompson, and grandmother, Elizabeth Polk Petway Lowe. Rev. Mark’s mother and grandmother raised him in Clark Memorial United Methodist Church, one of the headquarters of the Nashville sit-in movement, where the Rev. Dr James Lawson held his nonviolent trainings, and where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. held his Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Annual Meeting in 1961. Rev. Mark was baptized by the Rev. William C. Dobbins, who was motivated by, Dr. King, his next door neighbor in Montgomery, to lead the desegregation movement in Pensacola, Florida upon arriving there to pastor after seminary. Later called to pastor Clark in Nashville, Rev. Dobbins, in turn, motivated Rev. Mark to discern his call to the ordained ministry, to the prophetic gospel and to social justice. Not only Rev. Dobbins was instrumental in Rev. Mark’s direction toward ministry, but so, too, was Rev. Mark’s “Uncle Lin”—-Bishop Cornelius L. Henderson—who mentored Rev. Mark prior to leaving Nashville to become President of Gammon Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Dr. Kelly Miller Smith, for whom Rev. Mark’s stepgrandfather served as a Deacon at First Baptist Capitol Hill.
Rev. Mark’s maternal grandfather, J.K. Petway, after a stellar public school career teaching, then as Principal of Meigs and as a founder of the Middle Tennessee Colored Teachers Association—one of the first African American teachers unions in the South—served as Director of Admissions at Fisk University during the civil rights era. Rev. Mark’s mother followed in her father’s footsteps, and served in an administrative role to Fisk presidents for three decades while raising Rev. Mark as a single mother living on Fisk’s campus. Being raised on Fisk’s campus in the 1970’s, Rev. Mark soaked up a wealth of African American history and culture.
Rev. Mark was ordained a minister of the Gospel by NAACP DC Branch President and NAACP National Board Member, the Rev. Dr. Morris L. Shearin, Sr. at Israel Baptist Church in Washington, DC. The Rev. Dr. Walter E. Fauntroy, MLK’s Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Washington Bureau, was a member of Rev. Mark’s ordination council.
Rev. Mark’s pre-ordination as a broadcaster may have been at the time of his birth. He was born in Washington, DC at the Howard University School of Communications, formerly known as Freedmen’s Hospital. Rev. Mark began his broadcast career in 1988 with Radio One, Inc. under the guidance of owner Cathy Hughes, for whom the Howard University School of Communications is now named. Rev. Mark began as a news correspondent for WOL-AM, which once featured the renowned Petey Greene. When Hughes tapped Rev. Mark to host her popular morning show, she hired Dick Gregory to be his co-host.
MIP, was the first talk show to sign on XM Satellite Radio in 2001, and the only talk show to have been broadcast on XM exclusively, then Sirius exclusively, and then broadcast on both Sirius and XM. He was the first and only African American talk host on SiriusXM Progress, and he was the only African American in the U.S. hosting a daily, national show on a progressive/liberal talk format.
Rev. Mark anchored coverage of the dedication of the MLK Memorial. He anchored every one of President Bill Clinton’s and President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Addresses. He anchored live coverage of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. For several consecutive weeks, he broadcast Occupy Wall Street live, on location from New York's Zuccotti Park. His ministry, broadcasting and activism have taken him to the streets of Sanford, Florida, Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland in the aftermath of the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, respectively. In 2013, at a Moral Monday led by The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber and the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, he was arrested and jailed live on air. Rev. Mark has interviewed theological giants like the Rev Dr. Gardner C. Taylor and the Rev. Dr. James H. Cone. He broadcast from Johannesburg and Soweto during the first-ever democratic elections in 1994 in South Africa, where he received the name, Matsimela Mapfumo, which means “firmly rooted soldier.” He also anchored live coverage of Nelson Mandela’s state funeral in 2013. He has broadcast from every Democratic National Convention and every NAACP convention for almost two decades. Rev. Mark interviewed every Democratic vying for the presidency before the presumptive nomination.
As a Georgetown University freshman undergrad in 1985, he was one of the organizers of the shantytown built on Copley Lawn which led to the University’s divestment from apartheid South Africa. While he was a correspondent for the Georgetown student newspaper, his editors at “The Hoya” resisted calls to censor his coverage of the Reagan Administration’s “constructive engagement”’with the apartheid regime despite White House pressure upon university officials. Also, while at Georgetown, he served one of his mentors, Men’s Basketball Coach John Thompson, Jr., as a Manager for the Hoyas.
Later matriculating at the University of the District of Columbia, he was organizer and spokesperson for KIAMSHA, the 1990 eleven-day student protest and boycott, and was named one of the "100 Most Powerful People in Washington" by Regardie’s magazine.
In 1992, Rev. Mark teamed with the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization to Abolish the Death Penalty, and fellow activist Ben Jealous, who would go on to head the NAACP, to organize and lead a campaign against a Congressionally-imposed ballot initiative forcing the death penalty on the District of Columbia. The “Thou Shalt Not Kill” campaign mobilized voters to defeat the initiative on Nov. 3, 1992.
In 1993, after organizing the weekly civil disobedience and submitting to the weekly arrests on Capitol Hill that helped win the first-ever Congressional vote on DC Statehood, Rev. Mark was jailed for 20 days. Both the Stand Up for Democracy Coalition and Rev. Mark received the United Nations Association 2004 Human Rights Award. In 1996, He joined Dick Gregory, Joe Madison and the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery in nonviolent civil disobedience against the CIA’s and DEA’s roles in the crack cocaine epidemic as exposed by journalist Gary Webb and Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
While in high school in 1984, Rev. Mark was an organizer for the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign, and he was an organizer for Rev. Jackson’s second presidential campaign in 1988. In 1990, Rev. Mark managed former Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizer James Forman’s campaign for DC Shadow Senator. He was also an advisor to the Rev. Al Sharpton during his presidential run in 2004. Rev. Mark was a cofounder and Chair of the Umoja Party, and, in 1994 at the suggestion of SNCC’s Doug Moore, ran for Chair of the Washington DC City Council on a Unity ticket alongside SNCC’s Marion Barry, who was running for Mayor. Mayor Barry won his fourth term, and although Rev. Mark did not win Council Chair, the Umoja Party won the necessary number of votes to become the most recent Black political party to attain ballot-status in the U.S. He helped to organize the National African American Leadership Summit which grew out of the NAACP, under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, and held its first meeting in Detroit. He also presided over the 1996 National Black Political Convention.
Rev. Mark has emceed the Million Man March, every anniversary of the Million Man March, every anniversary of the March on Washington, and the annual Jubilee commemoration of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, where he also serves on the Jubilee board.
As a member of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) Litigation Commission, Rev. Mark was also one of the organizers of the 2002 Millions for Reparations March, and its emcee. He is an active advocate for passage of H.R. 40, the Congressional legislation to establish a Commission to study and develop reparations proposals. Along with the praise and protest gospel group Common Hymnal, he recently co-published the song, H.R. 40 (Reparations Now) available on all digital streaming platforms, including Apple and Spotify, and at HR40Song.com/ReparationsNOW.
Rev. Mark chaired the NAACP Metropolitan Police and Criminal Justice Review Task Force for the DC Branch. In that capacity, he co-authored legislation establishing the Board and Office of Police Complaints, and facilitated the beginning of an unprecedented study on racial profiling. He also taught courses in diversity awareness and cultural sensitivity at the DC Police Academy. For it’s work, the Task Force was honored by the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC.
He is a Life Member of the NAACP, the National Action Network, the National Congress of Black Women and the National Organization of Women. He is a member of the Senior Advisory Board for the Institute of Politics, Policy and History at the University of the District of Columbia. And he is a member of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. He is an active organizer for the Poor People’s Campaign, the Black Church Political Action Committee, Community First Solutions and he works in solidarity with Black Voters Matter and Until Freedom. Rev. Mark is also a frequent guest in pulpits around the nation.
Rev. Mark attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service before earning his Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of the District of Columbia. He earned his Masters in Divinity from Howard University.
Rev. Mark lives in New York, NY, and is the proud father of a daughter in STEM, and a son who is an NCAA student athlete playing college baseball.