Kweisi Mfume

Kweisi Mfume

name = Kweisi Mfume

date of birth = birth date and age|1948|10|24
place of birth = Baltimore, Maryland
state = Maryland
district = 7th
term_start = January 3, 1987
term_end = February 15, 1996
preceded = Parren J. Mitchell
succeeded = Elijah Cummings
party = Democrat
spouse =
children =
religion =

Kweisi Mfume (born Frizzell Gerald Gray, October 24, 1948, in Baltimore, Maryland) is the former President/CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as a five-term Democratic Congressman from Maryland's 7th congressional district, serving in the 100th through 104th Congress. On September 12, 2006, he lost a primary campaign for the United States Senate seat that was being vacated by Maryland U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes. []

Early life

Mfume was born Frizzell Gray in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 24, 1948, the eldest of four. His father, a truck driver, abandoned his family in Gray's youth. Upon the death of his mother, Mfume dropped out of high school at sixteen to begin work as many as three jobs at a time to support his three sisters. He also began hanging around street corners, sometimes with the wrong friends. In his biography, he reports that he "was locked up a couple of times on suspicion of theft because [he] happened to be black and happened to be young, and happened to be guilty and a rock pusher." Speculation as to the degree of his entanglement with the law has varied, especially as he later came into prominence. He became father to five children with several different women during his difficult teenage years, whom he actively supports (and who actively support him in his politics) to this day. He has since adopted one child as well.

At age twenty-three, it came upon Gray to change his life for the better. He returned to his studies and obtained his GED, going on to begin studies at the Community College of Baltimore, where he served as the head of its Black Student Union and the editor of the school newspaper. He went on to attend Morgan State University, where he graduated "magna cum laude" in 1976. He would go on to attain an M.L.A. in Liberal Arts in 1984, concentrating in International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. In the early 1970s, in recognition of his heritage and his success over his beginnings, he legally changed his name to Kweisi Mfume, a name from Ghana that translates to "Conquering Son of Kings".

During these years, Mfume also worked as a radio station volunteer and eventually as an announcer in Baltimore City.


In 1978, Kweisi Mfume was elected to the Baltimore City Council, serving there until 1986. His political stance was against that of then-mayor William Donald Schaefer, who Mfume believed had ignored the many poor neighborhoods of the city. It was a contentious matter, but despite his strong opinions he learned the art of political compromise. He was perceived by many to have had some success during his stay in office, a fact perhaps reflected by his subsequent election to the United States House of Representatives in 1986 despite a torrent of criticism, directed in no small part against his early past.

Serving in Maryland's seventh district for five terms, Kweisi made himself known as a Democrat with an apparent balance between strong progressive ideologies and a capacity for practical compromise, representing a district that included both West Baltimore and suburban and rural communities, though his primary goal was an increase in federal aid to American inner cities. In his fourth term he was made chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In February 1996, Mfume left the House to accept the presidency of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, stating that he could do more to improve American civil rights there than in the Congress. He reformed the association's finances to pay off its considerable debt while pursuing the cause of civil rights advancement for African Americans. Mfume served this position for nine years before stepping down in 2004.

Mfume is a member of the Prince Hall Freemasons. []

2006 United States Senate race

On March 14, 2005, Mfume announced that he would seek the U.S. Senate seat of senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), following the announcement by Sarbanes that he would not run for re-election in 2006. [] Multiple candidates ran for the Democratic nomination. The Democratic primary for this seat was held on September 12, 2006, and Mfume lost the race to U.S. Congressman Ben Cardin.

After the Senate race

In the wake of his primary defeat, some have speculated that Mfume was considering running for mayor of Baltimore in 2007, though he has not publicly expressed interest in such a run. [] [,0,2190324.story] On November 13, 2006, Mfume told a Baltimore-area radio station that "I don't have any plans to run for mayor. She [incoming mayor Sheila Dixon] 's worked for and deserves an opportunity to lead. ... I want her to succeed. I want the city to be united. I think at this point we owe her at least the opportunity to try to lead it."

Mfume on policy

Iraq: "The first thing we have to do is admit that this is an illegal war. We are there for all the wrong reasons. I believe we’ve got to get out of there in a way that allows this nation to focus more of its time, resources and brave young men and women on the issue of homeland security. I don’t believe we’re making the world safer by being there. Being in Iraq has found a way to slow down our machinery in terms of real homeland security." []

"The American public was lied to deliberately, maliciously and unnecessarily about all these reasons that didn't really exist. And once we got there — as the leaders of our military say, "liberated Baghdad" — and once we were able to apprehend Saddam Hussein, we were all told that in another year the Iraqi forces would be able to take care of themselves. We would provide armament and training, et cetera. Well three years have gone by and today is like it was that first day. There's just no end in sight." []

"Twice this year, I stood with other concerned Americans in protest of the ongoing war in Iraq and in support of military families. The deaths of countless numbers of brave young men and women drive home the tragedy of this unnecessary war even more. Every day we send back into our society those soldiers who were not killed but instead were wounded, disfigured and paralyzed. And when they come back home, our government does very little for them or their families. We can do better." []

Immigration: "I like [House Judiciary Chairman] Jim Sensenbrenner, but he’s dead wrong with the House version that says, “Let’s put up a 700-mile wall around the United States. Let’s lock up every priest and every pastor that gives food or comfort to an illegal who may be dying on the street,” because that means you’re an automatic felon. That’s draconian, and that’s why you’re having the demonstrations taking place." []

Health Care: "I support universal health care. I have real serious problems with the Medicare prescription drug plan Part D. The “D” is for disaster. And it was drafted by the pharmaceuticals. This bill was terrible before it got out of the gate." []

"Americans without medical coverage are often charged up to three times more than those who have an insurance company to negotiate their hospital bills, and a visit to an emergency room can cost well over $1,000. In embracing and working with Maryland's exceptional medical facilities, Kweisi Mfume will fight to ensure that the best and most advanced health care in the world is affordable and accessible to everyone who needs it." []

External links

* [ 2006 Senate campaign website] (now requires user name/password)

* [ Kweisi Mfume: From Boy in the Hood to Man in the House-And Beyond] , Horizon Magazine, 1997

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Mfume — Mfu•me [[t]ˈmfu meɪ[/t]] n. big Kweisi(Frizzell Gray) U.S. politician and civil rights leader: president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People since 1995 …   From formal English to slang

  • United States Senate election in Maryland, 2006 — 2000 ← November 7, 2006 → 2012 …   Wikipedia

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — Abbreviation NAACP …   Wikipedia

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  • National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People — (NAACP) Devise : « Assurer l égalité de droits politiques, éducatifs, sociaux et économiques de tous les citoyens et éliminer la haine et la discrimination raciales. » Création …   Wikipédia en Français

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — (NAACP) Devise : « Assurer l égalité de droits politiques, éducatifs, sociaux et économiques de tous les citoyens et éliminer la haine et la discrimination raciales. » Création 12 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • National association for the advancement of colored people — (NAACP) Devise : « Assurer l égalité de droits politiques, éducatifs, sociaux et économiques de tous les citoyens et éliminer la haine et la discrimination raciales. » Création …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Elijah Cummings — Infobox Congressman name =Elijah Cummings date of birth=birth date and age|1951|01|18 place of birth =Baltimore, Maryland state = Maryland district = 7th term start =April 16, 1996 preceded = Kweisi Mfume succeeded = Incumbent party =Democrat… …   Wikipedia

  • Congressional Black Caucus — The 13 founding members of the CBC in the early 1970s. Standing L R: Parren Mitchell (MD), Charles Rangel (NY), Bill Clay, Sr. (MO), Ron Dellums (CA), George Collins ( …   Wikipedia

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