The Rev. Nelson “Fuzzy” Thompson, a United Methodist minister who dedicated his life to dismantling the barriers of racism, inequality and discrimination, died early Sunday. He was 70.
For decades, Thompson was president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City and was the leading force behind the annual citywide celebration commemorating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Thompson and fellow organizers said the Kansas City celebration was the largest and most attended outside of King’s hometown of Atlanta.
The annual series of programs honoring the slain civil rights leader began Thursday and will conclude Jan. 19.
Thompson was involved in numerous civil rights battles on the local, national and international level.
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“There have been some challenges and difficulties over the years, but I have enjoyed them all and I would not change anything about my journey,” Thompson said in a 2012 interview. “I did things that weren’t always popular, but I felt compelled to do them.”
In recent years, Thompson battled a number of health-related maladies. He received a kidney transplant in November 2006 and was repeatedly hospitalized in recent months. Thompson was under hospice care at the time of his death.
Friends and fellow clergy said Thompson was fearless leader who unflinchingly served his community.
“Even during his illness, his support for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference never wavered,” said longtime friend and fellow United Methodist minister, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. “While he had to step down, he was still working to help others, even as his own health was failing.”