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Hansen Clarke
Hansen Clarke, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 13th district
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2013
Preceded byCarolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick
Succeeded byGary Peters (Redistricting)
Member of the Michigan Senate
from the 1st district
In office
January 1, 2003 – December 31, 2010
Preceded byJoe Young
Succeeded byColeman Young II
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 7th district
In office
January 1, 1999 – December 31, 2002
Preceded byRay Murphy
Succeeded byVirgil Smith Jr.
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 16th district
In office
January 1, 1991 – December 31, 1992
Preceded byJuanita Watkins
Succeeded byRichard Young
Personal details
Molik Hashim[1]

(1957-03-02) March 2, 1957 (age 63)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationCornell University (BFA)
Georgetown University (JD)

Hansen Clarke (born March 2, 1957) is an American politician and former U.S. Congressman. A Democrat, he was the U.S. Representative for Michigan's 13th congressional district from 2011 to 2013. Prior to his election to Congress, he had been a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 1991 through 1992 and from 1999 through 2002, and represented the 1st district in the Michigan Senate from 2003 to 2011.[2][3] Clarke was also the first U.S. Congressman of Bangladeshi descent.[4][5]

Clarke entered Congress after defeating incumbent Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick in the 2010 Democratic primary for the 13th congressional district. In 2012, due to redistricting, fellow incumbent Gary Peters chose to run against Clarke in the 14th congressional district primary. Clarke finished second in the primary behind Peters, and left Congress in January 2013.

In April 2014, Clarke attempted a comeback and announced he would again run in the 14th District primary. The seat was to be vacated by Peters, who ran successfully for the U.S. Senate. Clarke was unsuccessful in his bid to regain the seat.

Early life, education, and early political career

Clarke was born in Detroit, Michigan. His father was an immigrant from Beanibazar in Sylhet, British India (now Bangladesh), and his mother was African-American.[3] He grew up in the city's Lower East Side. Clarke's father died when he was eight years old and his mother worked as a crossing guard to support her family. Clarke is an alumnus of Cass Technical High School, and later graduated from The Governor's Academy, a Massachusetts boarding school.[3]

Clarke attended Cornell University, graduating with a degree in fine arts. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. While at Cornell, Clarke became interested in public service and electoral politics. He was elected to the student seat on the Cornell University Board of Trustees, defeating fellow student and future political commentator Ann Coulter in the process.[6] He earned a J.D. degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1987.[3]

Clarke worked on the County Executive's staff of Wayne County, during the administration of Edward H. McNamara, and then as chief of staff to U.S. Representative John Conyers.

Michigan legislature


Clarke was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1990, 1998, and 2000. After his six years in the Michigan House, Hansen Clarke was elected to the Michigan Senate in 2002. Senator Clarke was re-elected to his seat in the Senate in 2006. In 2010, Hansen Clarke was elected to represent the 13th District of Michigan in the United States House of Representatives.[7]


Clarke served on the State Senate Appropriations committee, and later served on the Health Policy and Commerce and Tourism committees.[8]

U.S. House of Representatives


As a member of Congress, he worked toward a vision for America where every person has a fair chance to reach his or her potential.[9]

Clarke championed initiatives to increase investment in the City of Detroit, which resulted in millions of dollars of federal assistance being awarded to the city and the region. He won approval in Congress to increase funding to improve nutrition for low-income families, provide housing for homeless veterans, and better equip and staff local police, fire, and emergency medical providers to bolster homeland security.[10][11]

Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 (H.R. 4170)

Clarke led the effort in Congress to cut student loan debt for millions of Americans by authoring the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012. This bill inspired a national movement, including a petition in support of his legislation that received more than one million signatures that urged Congress to pass H.R. 4170.[12]

Home foreclosures

Clarke also fought foreclosures to save family homes and neighborhoods. He established himself as one of the nation's strongest advocates for struggling homeowners and distressed communities with the Save Our Neighborhoods Act, a bill that would allow many homeowners to stay in their homes by suspending the foreclosure process and reducing their mortgage principal.[13]


Clarke worked to reduce crime and restore hope by addressing the urgent crisis of illiteracy among African-American and Hispanic men. He co-authored a bipartisan resolution initiating national action for literacy.[14] Rep. Clarke also introduced the first federal legislation to "Ban the Box," which would prohibit unfair discrimination against job applicants with certain criminal backgrounds.[15]

Clarke was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.



2010 campaign logo
2010 campaign logo

Clarke defeated seven-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick in the Democratic primary for Michigan's 13th District—the real contest in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district—in Aug. 3, 2010.[16]

In the general election, Clarke easily defeated Republican John Hauler, and became the third American of South Asian descent elected to Congress.[17]


After Michigan lost a congressional district in redistricting,[18] most of Clarke's district became the 14th District. It was significantly redrawn to take in large slices of nearby Oakland County. Clarke's home was drawn into the 13th District, represented by fellow Democrat John Conyers, but Clarke opted to follow most of his constituents into the 14th.[citation needed] Clarke faced fellow Congressman Gary Peters and Southfield mayor Brenda Lawrence in the primary.[18] Peters' 9th district had been eliminated in redistricting, and he chose to run in the 14th; he had represented much of the Oakland County portion of the district in both the state senate and in Congress.[citation needed] Peters emerged as the winner, and defeated Republican John Hauler in November. [19]


In May 2013, Peters announced that he would not be running for re-election in 2014. He instead ran for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Carl Levin. Clarke attempted to win his seat back, but was defeated in the primary by Brenda Lawrence.[20]

Committee assignments

Electoral history

Personal life

Clarke is married to Choi Palms-Cohen.[21] They married in 2007, after meeting at the offices of the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she worked.[22] They live on Detroit's east side where Clarke was born and raised. Clarke was raised as a Muslim but later converted to Catholicism.[23]

See also


  1. ^ "CLARKE, Hansen". History, Art & Archives - United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  2. ^ Michigan Legislative Service Bureau (2006). Michigan Manual 2005–2006. Lansing, MI: Legislative Council, State of Michigan. p. 130. ISBN 1-878210-06-8. Retrieved 2007-03-09.
  3. ^ a b c d Michigan Senate Democrats (2007). "Michigan Senate Democrats: About Hansen Clarke". Archived from the original on 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2007-03-09.
  4. ^ [1] US Embassy
  5. ^ [2] Archived 2013-02-22 at South Asia Journal
  6. ^ Goldweber, Aaron. "Congressman Hansen Clarke takes refuge in art". Cornell University. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Elections in Michigan / Previous Election Information". State of Michigan. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  8. ^ "Standing Committees". State of Michigan. 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  9. ^ University of Detroit Mercy Law. "Hansen Clarke: Faculty Biography". Archived from the original on 1 January 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  10. ^ Scott Dorsey, Melanie. "Detroit Fire Department gets $22.5-million grant to preserve jobs". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  11. ^ "THOMAS: Bill Summary and Status". Library of Congress. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  12. ^ "1 Million People Show Support for Student Loan Forgiveness Act". US News and World Report. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  13. ^ GovTrack. "H.R. 4848 (112th): Save Our Neighborhoods Act of 2012". Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  14. ^ Keating, Patrick. "Hansen Clarke co-sponsoring bipartisan literacy program". Michigan Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2012-08-08. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  15. ^ Cwiek, Sarah. "Detroit Congressman wants to make "ban the box" federal law". Michigan Radio. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  16. ^ Detroit Free Press: Clarke upsets Kilpatrick as family dynasty ends (Aug. 3, 2010)
  17. ^ "Voice of America: First Bangladeshi-American elected to US Congress". Voice of America Newsletter. Michigan. November 2, 2010. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  18. ^ a b Schultz, Marisa (26 July 2012). "Two incumbents in fight to keep seat". The Detroit News. p. A9.
  19. ^ Oosting, Jonathan (26 July 2012). "Gary Peters wins incumbent battle with Hansen Clarke in Michigan's 14th Congressional District". MLive.
  20. ^ "Southfield Mayor: Detroit, don't drop dead". Detroit News. January 23, 2014. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  21. ^ "Fighting the power: Hansen Clarke vs. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick". The Smirking Chimp. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  22. ^ Ann Arborite Choi Palms-Cohen – A whirlwind romance's political turn, Eve Silberman, 2 November 2010,, accessed 7 January 2011
  23. ^ "First Bangladeshi-American Elected to US Congress". VOA. Retrieved 2018-10-21.

External links

Michigan Senate
Preceded by
Joe Young
Member of the Michigan Senate
from the 1st district

Succeeded by
Coleman Young
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Carolyn Kilpatrick
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 13th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Conyers
This page was last edited on 5 October 2020, at 16:01
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