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Sister Francesca Thompson

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Information about Sister Francesca Thompson

Profile image of Sister Francesca Thompson

Profession

Category:
ReligionMakers
Occupation(s):
Religious Leader

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Chitlins, Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Assisi, Italy
Favorite Quote:
My God And My All.

Birthplace

Born:
4/29/1932
Birth Location:
Los Angeles, California

Profession

Category:
ReligionMakers
Occupation(s):
Religious Leader

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Chitlins, Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Assisi, Italy
Favorite Quote:
My God And My All.

Birthplace

Born:
4/29/1932
Birth Location:
Los Angeles
See how Sister Francesca Thompson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Sister Francesca Thompson was born on April 29, 1932, in Los Angeles, California. Thompson’s parents were Evelyn Preer and Edward Thompson, who were founding members of the Lafayette Players in 1915. Her mother died at age thirty-five, when Thompson was just seven months old. Her father and grandmother raised her in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her lower middle class upbringing was atypical. Thompson’s grandmother, Susan Knox, was a Democratic ward captain, so Thompson was exposed to the city’s politicians, clergymen and judges who visited their home. Her father’s friends, who included such entertainment luminaries as Paul Robeson, Ruby Dee, and Eubie Blake, also influenced her.

Though raised in the African Episcopal Church, Thompson became attracted to Catholicism while attending St. Mary’s Academy, which in the 1940s was the only private secondary school in Indianapolis that would accept African Americans. Won over by the ritual and the drama of the Catholic faith, Thompson joined the Sisters of St. Francis of Odenburg, Indiana, in 1952. She received her B.A. degree in 1960 from Marian College and her M.A. degree in education from Xavier University. Thompson earned her PhD degree in speech and drama from the University of Michigan, writing her thesis on the Lafayette Players. She coached several budding actors while at the University of Michigan, including Gilda Radner and Christine Lahti.

Her doctoral dissertation helped Thompson become chairperson of the Drama/Speech Department at Marian College, where she taught from 1966 to 1982. In 1982, she began a twenty-four year association at Fordham University, where she was associate professor of African and African American Studies and assistant dean/director for Multicultural Programs. Thompson has celebrated her fiftieth anniversary as a Sister of St. Francis. She has twice served as a member of the prestigious nominating committee for Broadway’s Tony Awards, and has been inducted to The College of Fellows of the American Theatre. In 2002, Thompson received an honorary doctorate of fine arts at Fordham University’s 157th commencement.

Thompson resides in New York City.

See how Sister Francesca Thompson is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sister Francesca Thompson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sister Francesca Thompson lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls researching her parents' acting careers, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls researching her parents' acting careers, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes the founding of the Anita Bush Players, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes the founding of the Anita Bush Players, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sister Francesca Thompson talks about her mother's work with Clarence Muse
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sister Francesca Thompson remembers interviewing Clarence Muse
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes the Lafayette Players' productions
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes how her mother became an actress
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls how her father joined the Lafayette Players, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls how her father joined the Lafayette Players, pt.2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sister Francesca Thompson talks about her mother's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes her father's career after her mother died
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes her paternal family's role in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls growing up in Indianapolis
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls attending St. Mary's Academy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sister Francesca Thompson remembers her conversion to Catholicism
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls her decision to join the convent
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls her admission into the convent
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls her family's response to her initiation as a nun
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls the Leadership Conference of Religious Women
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes her experience of race in the Catholic church
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sister Francesca recalls attending Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls how she came to teach at Fordham University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sister Francesca Thompson talks about her faith
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sister Francesca Thompson talks about her retirement from Fordham University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes the highlights of her teaching career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes the Office of African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native Americans at Fordham University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sister Francesca Thompson remembers her drama course, Shades of Value, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sister Francesca Thompson remembers her drama course, Shades of Value, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls her most rewarding moment as an educator
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls serving on the Tony Awards Administration Committee
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls being featured in The New York Times, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sister Francesca Thompson recalls being featured in The New York Times, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sister Francesca Thompson talks about African Americans in theater
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes her hopes for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sister Francesca Thompson describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sister Francesca Thompson narrates her photographs