Upon graduating from the Fieldston School, Wright attended Tufts University where he made the Dean's Honor List. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977 and continued his educational career, obtaining a Juris Doctor from Rutgers University.
Prior to his election to the Assembly, Wright was an associate in the Law Office of Ruffin E. Cotton, Jr., specializing in corporate and securities law.
In 1983, he joined the staff of the Human Resources Administration (HRA) as Special Assistant to the General Counsel. He served in this capacity until 1986, leaving the HRA to assume a key position, Director of the Uptown Office, on the staff of then-Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins.
Following Dinkins' successful bid for office of Mayor for the City of New York, Wright left city government for the position of Assistant Director of Government Relations at the New York City Transit Authority.
Wright's father was also politically active. He was New York State Supreme Court Justice Bruce M. Wright. Wright is married to the former Susan I. Gayles and they have two sons, Keith "Jared" and Jordan.
Community Free Democrats Meeting
The first half of the program was a Community Free Democrats Meeting.
Communist gathering/"We're Not Going Back"
March 2015, a crowd of New Yorkers lined up at the security desk in order to make their way up to the third floor to Melba's Restaurant and the annual "We're Not Going Back" celebration of African American culture and struggle.
2014's guest speaker was Angela Davis, and the occasion was held downtown at the Henry Winston Unity Hall. This year's featured speaker was the newly elected mayor of Newark, the Honorable Ras Baraka.
The meeting's theme was "Support City Officials Who Fight for Equality, a Living Wage and Against Racism."
Estevan Bassett-Nembhard, New York organizer of the Communist Party USA, opened the program, greeting the over 200 participants and emphasizing the need for unity in the vital struggle to end racism. "We stand on the shoulders of those who defeated slavery and Jim Crow. Our history tells us that united we stand and divided we fall." He continued, "We're not going back! Our pledge is to stick together."
Naquasia LeGrand chaired the event, winning a round of applause when she announced that she was a fast food worker and an organizer of that movement.
A large and politically diverse host committee was formed to welcome Mayor Baraka, including representatives from labor, fast-food workers, police reform, immigrant rights, LGBTQ, religious and peace and justice movements. Among them were Alisha Garner, the sister of Eric Garner murdered by police on Staten Island, and elected officials including State Senator Bill Perkins, State Assemblyman Keith Wright, along with a representative of City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez. Baraka received proclamations from Perkins, Wright and Rodriguez. He also received a letter of welcome from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer stopped by briefly to greet the gathering crowd.
As the evening ended one participant said, "This was a great event that showed that left and center forces in our city can work together to build principled unity and a stronger movement to help defeat racism and poverty."
Manhattan Assemblyman Keith Wright kicked off his campaign June 6, 2015, to succeed Congressman Charles B. Rangel — who has announced his intention to retire—at a “prayer breakfast” at Union Baptist Missionary Church in the Bronx.
Joined by a large contingent of pastors from his native Harlem, as well as by former Gov. David Paterson and Councilwoman Inez Dickens, Mr. Wright pitched himself as an accomplished legislator in the Assembly who has supported stronger rent laws and helped pass legislation improving wages for domestic workers. On this basis he asserted he was prepared to take on what he described as the problems facing the district and the nation.
“The evils of racism, the evils of poverty, the inexcusable reality that our educational system fails our children, the concentration of wealth in the hands of too few, and the experience of deprivation in the lives of too many,” he said, alluding to the outbursts of racial violence following the deaths of black men at the hands of police in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore. “Looking over my life of service, I have decided to take the next step. Confident of your prayers and inspired by your faith, I am announcing right here, today, right now, that I am indeed a candidate for the United States Congress, for the 13th Congressional District.”
Mr. Wright has never represented the Bronx, which makes up a relatively small portion of the district. The Bronx County Democratic organization, which Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie formerly chaired, reportedly agreed to support Mr. Wright for Congress in exchange for his backing Mr. Heastie to succeed scandal-scarred ex-Speaker Sheldon Silver earlier this year.
Once overwhelmingly black, the district today is majority Hispanic. But divisions between the newer Dominican and the older Puerto Rican communities—the latter of which Mr. Rangel has represented for decades—coupled with strong turnout among black voters allowed the incumbent congressman to twice quash challenges from Dominican-born State Senator Adriano Espaillat.
Mr. Wright acknowledged the potential for division among ethnic communities, but argued race should not be a factor in primary next year.
“I’m not born yesterday, I know sometimes that political fights can get contentious. I don’t foresee this to be contentious at all. I hope not,” he told the Observer.
Mr. Rangel has not made any endorsement yet in the race, but Mr. Wright is a longtime ally of the octagenarian lawmaker, and former Rangel campaign advisor Charlie King is running Mr. Wright’s bid for Congress. The assemblyman told the faith leaders of his longstanding ties to the 45-year incumbent.
“Charlie Rangel has enriched my life in so, so many ways,” he said, recalling going to the lawmaker for advice after graduating from college. “Congressman Rangel has been my mentor for so many years.”
Former Manhattan Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV—son of Mr. Rangel’s predecessor Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and a rival-turned-ally to the congressman—and stay-at-home father Mike Gallagher are the only other announced candidates.
The union represents more than 70,000 building service workers.
It’s a setback for front-runner Adriano Espaillat, the state senator from northern Manhattan who nearly toppled Rangel in two close Democratic primaries in 2012 and 2014.
The union, which has as a large Hispanic membership, stayed neutral when Espaillat challenged Rangel two years ago.
“Keith Wright has stood up for working men and women on a range of issues in the Assembly. He’s fought for good jobs and fair pay for New Yorkers and affordable housing, immigration reform that keeps families together and economic and educational opportunities for all,” said 32BJ president Hector Figueroa.
Dinkins noted that Harlem Assemblyman Wright, the Manhattan Democratic Party chairman, served as his office manager when Dinkins was Manhattan borough president in the ’80s.
“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Keith for his entire life,” Dinkins said. “This is nothing negative against the other candidates. I simply like Keith.”
- DSA Meetup group, DSA at #Occupy Wall Street panel at Goddard-Riverside Community Center
- PW, Mayor Ras Baraka tops Harlem evening of black culture and struggle by: Jarvis Tyner March 18 2015
- Assemblyman Launches Campaign to Replace Charles RangelBy Will Bredderman • 06/06/15
- [http://nypost.com/2016/01/15/seiu-backs-keith-wright-to-succeed-retirng-charles-rangel/ NYPost METRO SEIU backs Keith Wright to succeed retirng Charles Rangel By Carl Campanile January 15, 2016]
- Post, METRO Former Mayor endorses Keith Wright to succeed Charles Rangel By Carl Campanile October 12, 2015