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Kweisi Mfume
Official Photo of Kweisi Mfume 2019
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 7th district
Assumed office
May 5, 2020
Preceded byElijah Cummings
In office
January 3, 1987 – February 15, 1996
Preceded byParren Mitchell
Succeeded byElijah Cummings
President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
In office
February 20, 1996 – November 30, 2004
Preceded byEarl Shinhoster
Succeeded byDennis Courtland Hayes
Member of the Baltimore City Council
from the 4th district
In office
Preceded byMulti-member district
Succeeded byMulti-member district
Personal details
Frizzell Gerald Gray

(1948-10-24) October 24, 1948 (age 71)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Tiffany McMillan
EducationBaltimore City Community College
Morgan State University (BS)
Johns Hopkins University (MA)
WebsiteHouse website

Kweisi Mfume (/kwˈsiʊmˈfm/ kwy-EE-see uum-FOO-may; born Frizzell Gerald Gray; October 24, 1948) is an American politician who served as the U.S. Representative for Maryland's 7th congressional district from 1987 to 1996 and assumed the office again in May 2020. He is also the former president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 2006, he ran for the U.S. Senate seat that was being vacated by Paul Sarbanes, losing the Democratic primary election to Ben Cardin. In 2020, Mfume was elected to again fill his former House seat, which had been left vacant by the death of Elijah Cummings.[1]

Early life

Mfume was born as Frizzell Gerald Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, on 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 working 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." 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. He has since adopted one child as well.[2][3]

At age 23, Gray returned to his studies and obtained his GED. Then, he was hired by Operation Champ. Often working 40 to 46 hours per week at various Baltimore city Teen Centers (an after school program) while simultaneously a full-time student at Baltimore City Community College, where he served as the head of its Black Students 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 earn a Master of Liberal Arts degree in 1984 at Johns Hopkins University. In the early 1970s, to reflect his African heritage, he changed his name to Kweisi Mfume, comprising words of Akan and Swahili origin.

Early career

Mfume with President Ronald Reagan in 1987
Mfume with President Ronald Reagan in 1987
Mfume with Nelson Mandela in 1994
Mfume with Nelson Mandela in 1994
Mfume giving a speech in 1999
Mfume giving a speech in 1999

In 1978, Mfume was elected to the Baltimore City Council,[4] where he opposed mayor William Donald Schaefer, whom he accused of ignoring the poor neighborhoods of the city. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986.

Representing Maryland's 7th congressional district for five terms, Mfume 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.[citation needed]

In February 1996, Mfume left the House to accept the presidency of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), stating that he could do more to improve American civil rights there than in the Congress.[5] He reformed the association's finances to pay off its considerable debt while pursuing the cause of civil rights advancement for African Americans. Though many in Baltimore wanted Mfume to run for mayor in the 1999 election, Mfume stayed with the NAACP.[6] Mfume served in this position for nine years before stepping down in 2004 after an internal investigation alleged that he had sexually harassed female subordinates.[7] Mfume acknowledged dating an NAACP employee.[8] The NAACP reportedly paid out $100,000 to settle Mfume's alleged improprieties.[9]

2006 U.S. Senate campaign

On March 14, 2005, Mfume announced that he would seek the U.S. Senate seat of incumbent Paul Sarbanes, following the announcement by Sarbanes that he would not run for re-election in 2006.[10] 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. Representative Ben Cardin.[11]

Mfume delivering a speech at NOAA during Black History Month, 2005
Mfume delivering a speech at NOAA during Black History Month, 2005

In the wake of his primary defeat, Mfume was believed to be considering running for mayor of Baltimore in 2007, though he had not publicly expressed interest in such a run.[12][13] 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." In late 2010, he was again rumored to be considering a run in the 2011 Baltimore mayoral election.[14]

On May 9, 2013, Mfume was named chair of the board of regents of his alma mater, Morgan State University. He assumed the position of July 1, 2013, succeeding the interim chair Martin Resnick.[15]

Return to the U.S. House

2020 special election

On November 4, 2019, Mfume announced his candidacy for the special election for his old congressional seat to fill the vacancy created by the death of his successor, Elijah Cummings, less than three weeks prior.[16] On February 4, 2020, Mfume won the Democratic nomination for his former seat. He easily defeated Republican Kimberly Klacik in the general election on April 28, 2020[1] and was sworn in on May 5, 2020.[17] He also is running for re-election in the November 2020 race.[16]

Committee Assignments

After his successful election to Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced, that Mfume would serve on the following committees for the remainder of the 116th Congress: [18]

Personal life

Mfume with wife Tiffany McMillan at the 2016 Democratic National Convention
Mfume with wife Tiffany McMillan at the 2016 Democratic National Convention

Mfume is a member of the Prince Hall Freemasons[19] and Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

On May 17, 2005, Mfume apologized for having had sex with an NAACP staffer, an organization he had led at the time of the affair.[20]

See also


  1. ^ a b Barker, Jeff (February 4, 2020). "Kweisi Mfume wins Democratic nomination for Maryland's 7th District". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on February 5, 2020. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  2. ^ Hall, Wiley (December 1, 2004). "NAACP president Mfume resigns". The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  3. ^ " - NAACP chief Mfume resigns - Nov 30, 2004". CNN. November 30, 2004. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  4. ^ "Our Campaigns - Candidate - Kweisi Mfume". Our Campaigns. Archived from the original on December 17, 2007. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  5. ^ "U.S. News Briefs". CNN. February 20, 1996. Archived from the original on February 6, 2003. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  6. ^ Janofsky, Michael (May 25, 1999). "N.A.A.C.P. Chief Rules Out Running for Mayor of Baltimore". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  7. ^ Brewington, Kelly (May 8, 2005). "Pattern of abuse claims at NAACP kept quiet". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  8. ^ Matthew Mosk; Cheryl W. Thompson (April 28, 2005). "Mfume Accused of Favoritism At NAACP". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 17, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020. Mfume acknowledged yesterday that he dated one of the women in that altercation, a female NAACP employee
  9. ^ Brewington, Kelly (May 23, 2005). "Scandal at top of NAACP felt little by local organizations". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 1, 2020. Though the allegations against Mfume prompted the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to reportedly pay a settlement of about $100,000 to a former female employee, many local leaders in the nation's oldest civil rights organization say they are relieved that the public relations damage isn't worse.
  10. ^ "Civil Rights Leader Announces Bid For U.S. Senate". WBAL-TV. March 14, 2005. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  11. ^ "Cardin beats Mfume in Maryland Senate race". NBC News. September 13, 2006. Archived from the original on March 9, 2020. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  12. ^ Donovan, Doug; Fritze, John (January 6, 2007). "Keiffer Mitchell to run for mayor". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on October 16, 2019. Retrieved October 16, 2019. Many believed that the Bolton Hill resident was going to wait until former U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume decided whether to seek the office.
  13. ^ Brown, Geoff; Iglehart, Ken; Rath, Molly; Weiss, Max (March 1, 2007). "Power 50". Baltimore. Archived from the original on October 16, 2019. Retrieved October 16, 2019. Baltimore's former congressman dominated the 2007 mayoral election into February—without so much as suggesting he wanted to run.
  14. ^ Scharper, Julie (November 14, 2010). "Challengers emerge to Rawlings-Blake in 2011 mayor's race". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on October 1, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  15. ^ Rector, Kevin (May 9, 2013). "Mfume named chair of Morgan State board, signals Wilson will stay". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on October 16, 2019. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Young, Blair (November 4, 2019). "Kweisi Mfume announces candidacy for District 7 seat". WBAL-TV. Archived from the original on November 4, 2019. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  17. ^ Barker, Jeff; Opilo, Emily (May 5, 2020). "Just sworn in, U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume says he'll 'have a conversation' with late friend Elijah Cummings". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  18. ^ Press Release (May 7, 2020). "Pelosi Announces Committee Assignments for Congressman Kweisi Mfume". U.S. Congress - Nancy Pelosi - Speaker of the House. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  19. ^ "Famous Prince Hall Freemasons". Archived from the original on January 15, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  20. ^ Nitkin, David (May 17, 2005). "Affair with staffer a mistake, Mfume says". Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on March 11, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2020. has acknowledged having an affair with one of the women, D'Andrea Lancelin

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Parren Mitchell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 7th congressional district

January 3, 1987 – February 15, 1996
Succeeded by
Elijah Cummings
Preceded by
Edolphus Towns
Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
Succeeded by
Donald M. Payne
Preceded by
Dave Obey
Chair of the Joint Economic Committee
Succeeded by
Connie Mack III
Preceded by
Elijah Cummings
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 7th congressional district

April 28, 2020 – present
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Earl Shinhoster
President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Succeeded by
Dennis Courtland Hayes
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Bill Foster
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Justin Amash
This page was last edited on 11 May 2020, at 13:48
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