Political involvement has long been a commitment for Geraldine F. Thompson. After graduating from the University of Miami in 1970, she left her childhood home of Perrine, Florida and moved with her husband, Emerson R. Thompson, Jr., to Tallahassee where she worked as secretary to Representative Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry, the first African American female elected to the Florida House of Representatives. She learned the legislative process early from a passionate and committed trailblazer.
After Emerson R. Thompson, Jr. completed law school at Florida State University and Geraldine earned her Master’s Degree from FSU, they moved to Orlando and began working to improve conditions in their community. Emerson worked as a prosecutor in the State Attorney’s Office and Geraldine was a class room teacher. Emerson became the first African American judge in Orange County and Geraldine was an administrator and director of equal opportunity programs at Valencia College. At Valencia, she created the College Reach Out Program that has continued for more than 30 years and enabled thousands of low income students to obtain a college education.
Geraldine has long recognized that politics impact Americans lives every day. She has been politically involved and has supported the political candidacies of many Democrats. She served as a delegate to numerous Democratic National Conventions, including the historic 2008 and 2012 conventions.
To capture and preserve the history of the Central Florida community, Geraldine spearheaded the effort to save an Orlando historic treasure, the Wells’Built Hotel, which is now a museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places. She participated in an oral history project and used research from the project in her first book, Black America: Orlando, Florida.
She offered her service for legislative office and was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2006 and the Florida Senate in 2012. As a legislator, Senator Thompson filed and shepherded to passage bills to: outlaw the genital mutilation of young women and girls, prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy under Florida’s Civil Rights Laws, provide for compensation of wrongfully incarcerated individuals when a case is nolleprossed, allow for routine testing for HIV in a medical setting, and provide compensation for a child injured on public school grounds. Senator Thompson served as Democratic Leader Pro Tempore in the Florida House, Chair of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, Vice Chair of the Florida Black Legislative Caucus and the first African American Chair of the Orange County Legislative Delegation.
Senator Thompson’s numerous awards include the Humanitarian Award by the Central Florida Medical Society in recognition of her efforts to expand access to health care and prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, the Mary HatwoodFutrelle Award by the National Education Association in recognition of work to expand opportunities for women and girls, and the American Cancer Society Legislative Award for her work as a breast cancer survivor to promote early detection and treatment. In October of 2015, Senator Thompson announced her intent to continue her decades of legislative service as a candidate for the United States Congress.