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D.C. Photojournalist Mickey Thompson Focused on the Positive

Captured Scenes of Blacks at Their Best for African-American Press

Members of social organizations throughout the Greater Washington Area, Baltimore and beyond continue to express sentiments of sadness after learning that photojournalist Melvalee “Mickey” Mitchell Thompson Vincent, who contributed her “Social Sightings” column each week to The Washington Informer, has died at 66.

Known professionally as “Mickey Thompson,” the award-winning photographer who began her career in 2001 captured a plethora of social activities in which Blacks were the primary participants through the lens of her camera.

Born April 18, 1950 in Norfolk, she later moved to D.C. with her family, graduating from Spingarn High School in 1968. In 1969 she joined the U.S. Marine Corps where she would earn the distinction as the first African-American Miss Armed Forces while moving up the ranks to the position of Staff Sergeant.

Upon her honorable discharge, she returned to the District where she turned her attention to obtaining a college degree, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Communications from the University of the District of Columbia.

In what she once described as a “whirlwind relationship,” she later met, fell in love with and married The Honorable William S. “Turk” Thompson, a federal judge and attorney with whom she worked side by side until his retirement. After her husband’s death in 1998, Mickey became determined to let the world see a side of the Black community rarely captured by the media, creating her Social Sightings Magazine in 2001. The publication would result in her receiving accolades and awards including the High Tea Society Community Service Award and the Main Avenue Ministries Journalist Award.

She met Dr. Charles Vincent while covering a social event for her magazine. After a lengthy courtship and a friendship that would intensify over almost 11 years, they eventually married 18 months ago. Her friends and family say she never allowed a holiday to go by without standing out as the “life of the party.”

Vincent, 67, said photojournalism became the center of her professional life.

“She had long grown tired of the negative news and wanted to emphasize the positive,” he said. “She often said ‘it doesn’t have to bleed to lead.’ Mickey was insistent about two things in particular: showcasing Black professionals and Black social organizations and making sure that youth were exposed to these groups and the contributions they have historically made to our community.”

“Every year she’d host the William S. Thompson Follies on Martha’s Vineyard where she’d raise money to help children from the District attend college. She wanted to let her readers know that ‘Blacks do a whole lot more than rape, steal and murder,’ – something that mainstream media tended to falsely report.”

Mickey had been facing health challenges for some time but had been relatively quiet about it. In fact her husband, who says people would frequently comment on her generosity with her time, talents and resources, said “she was always the one taking care of people – this time I told her it was time for me to take care of her.”

D.C. socialite Lavern Chatman paid homage to her friend on Facebook.

“Today I lost one of my dearest friends,” Chatman wrote on her Facebook page. “She documented the class, pride and best of our people. Other papers ignored us, she highlighted and lifted us. You will truly be missed my friend. RIP Mickey Thompson-Vincent.”

Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of The Washington Informer, also took to Facebook to remember Thompson-Vincent.

“God bless Mickey Thompson who made everyone feel like somebody in her weekly column ‘Social Sightings,’” Rolark Barnes wrote on her Facebook page.

A celebration of her life will be held on Monday, Nov. 14 at St. Stephen Martyr Catholic Church, 2436 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. with the viewing from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and a mass from 10 to 11 a.m. Those who plan to attend should note that parking is limited and that the church is closest to the Foggy Bottom Metro Station.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Award-winning journalist and 21-year Black Press veteran, book editor, voice-over specialist and college instructor (Philosophy, Religion, Journalism). Before joining us, he led the Miami Times to recognition as NNPA Publication of the Year.

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