Bolder Options can thank Mac Stephens for their current president, Darrell Thompson.
Stephens and Thompson were both students at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, teammates, co-captains and also best friends. Stephens was more engaged in the community and more civic-minded than Thompson was at the time. Volunteering with youth became one of many fun activities they did together on a regular basis. Thompson now works to help others realize that they can be involved.
“If you are not part of the process, all you can do is complain,” Thompson says.
Part of the reason Thompson got into broadcasting for the Gophers as a football analyst is to show up and be part of the process. He feels a responsibility to go places, even if he is the only person of color. If he doesn’t, he says, there may not be any person of color represented.
It was unheard of for a Black man to work in broadcasting at the University of Minnesota 24 years ago when Thompson covered his first news conference. It was so unusual, an older sports journalist asked him, “What the hell are you doing here?”
Thompson remained the only person of color in that role for another 10 years.
Thompson chuckled when he told another story about standing out in a crowd. As a middle-schooler, he was traveling on the bus to play basketball when some of his teammates came up with the great idea to ‘moon’ the people outside. As one of only two Black boys on the bus, Thompson knew there was no anonymity for him if he chose to participate, so he opted out. While he missed out on a fun little prank that many have participated in over the years, his parents may not have been quite as disappointed as he was.
For more on why Thompson left Rochester, some ideas on how communities can attract and retain people of color, and how to get involved with Bolder Options, listen to our podcast, The Other Side of the Table, Season 2 episode #4 Darrell Thompson (Part 2.)