My heart is saddened with the passing of Nelson LaVert “Fuzzy” Thompson. He was a giant among men not only in stature, but most especially in his humility, ethics, religious morality and his steadfast commitment to rid the world of racism.
We have lost a true comrade in arms in the fight for human dignity, freedom and civil and human rights. He would not hesitate to tell you that he was one of God’s chosen soldiers.
I met Reverend Thompson when I was 6 or 8 years old and his aunt’s house was on 10th and Freeman immediately behind my aunt’s house on 10th and New Jersey in Kansas City, Kan.. Even though he was a bit older, we would sit on his aunt’s porch and sometimes venture into the yard to play marbles. We would always kid each other about having the same name, but all of the kids in the neighborhood knew, even at that time, that “Fuzzy” had a special calling from God.
Those who knew Reverend Fuzzy knew that he had a kind, generous and sharing heart and would do anything to uplift the youth of our community. I believe that it was his love for children that led him to his involvement with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was one of the first to establish a “safe zone” for our children as he opened the doors to the Martin Luther King Urban Center and directed our youth toward a more constructive experience.
Fuzzy was unpretentious and very comfortable with who he was. As time passed he would, with great poise, affection and openness, tell the youth in the center to call him “Reverend Nelson Fuzzy Thompson Bald Head” and they did with great pride, returning the affection. Those who really knew Reverend Fuzzy knows that he loved basketball and that he had an intense side to his personality. If you ever played basketball with him, you were sure to experience that intensity if you were able to walk off of the court.
Before the national holiday was established, Reverend Thompson and I worked together on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday celebration to promote Dr. King’s teachings throughout the metropolitan area and to encourage Congress to establish Dr. King’s holiday. That is why the two Kansas City celebrations started years ahead of the national holiday.
No one can question Reverend Fuzzy Thompson’s commitment to non-violence and his commitment to Dr. Martin Luther King’s ideals and dreams. I believe that it is because of Reverend Thompson’s fervor, spirit and commitment to non-violent principles and social activism that Dr. King’s dream thrives in many cities throughout this metropolitan community.
While this place won’t be the same without Reverend Nelson Fuzzy Thompson, we will forever salute and memorialize his caring spirit and pray that God has his basketball court ready. As read in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Live on for justice and peace, Fuzzy, and continue to hold your hands up for God!
LaVert Murray coordinates the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Kansas City, Kan.