Kweisi Mfume

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Kweisi Mfume serves the residents of Maryland’s 7th District, which includes Baltimore, Baltimore County and Howard County.

Early years

Mfume was born, raised and educated in the city of Baltimore. He attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland where as an honors student he graduated magna cum laude. He later returned there to join the staff as an adjunct professor teaching courses in Political Science and Communications. He was voted the University’s 2013 Alumnus of the Year.

By the age of thirty-one he won his first election to the Baltimore City Council. During his seven years of service in local government, he chaired the City Council’s Committee on Health Policy and led the efforts to diversify city government, improve community safety, enhance business development and divest city funds from the then apartheid government of South Africa. He enrolled in and graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in 1984, earning a Master’s degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in International Studies.

Congress (1986-1996)

At the age of thirty-eight, he was decisively elected to the United States Congress to represent Maryland’s 7th District, a seat that he would hold for the next decade during the terms of Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton. As a member of the House of Representatives, Congressman Mfume was served on several committees. He served on the Banking and Financial Services Committee and held the ranking seat on the General Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. He also served as a member of the Committee on Education and helped to impact commerce and industry matters as a senior member of the Small Business Committee. While in his third term, he was chosen by the Speaker of the House to serve on the Ethics Committee and the Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate where he was later elected Chairman.

Congressman Mfume consistently advocated landmark business and civil rights legislation. He successfully co-sponsored and helped to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act, strengthened the Equal Credit Opportunity Law and co-authored and successfully amended the Civil Rights Bill of 1991 to apply its provisions to U.S. citizens working for American-based companies abroad. He also sponsored legislative initiatives banning assault weapons and establishing stalking as a federal crime.

Congressman Mfume served as both Vice-Chair and later Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He was regularly designated to preside as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives. During his fifth term in office, he was appointed by his Caucus as Vice-Chairman for Communications.

NAACP

Kweisi Mfume left his Congressional seat in 1996 to become President and Chief Executive Officer of the NAACP. During his nine years with the organization, he significantly raised the national profile of the NAACP while helping to restore its prominence among the nation’s civil rights organizations. Throughout his tenure he helped establish 75 new college-based NAACP chapters across the nation. In 2000, Mfume worked to negotiate, develop and author the first ever signed Network Television Diversity Agreements with NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox. In 2003, he helped negotiate for and successfully secured the NAACP’s official United Nations’ Status as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

Return to Congress

Mfume was sworn-in into the 116th U.S. Congress on May 5, 2020, after winning a special election to fill the remainder of the term after Congressman Elijah Cummings, the incumbent representative (and his friend of 42 years), died in office in October 2019. Mfume currently serves on the House Oversight Committee and the Small Business Committee.[1]

Voted against Contra aid

Two Baltimore Democratic reps, Barbara Mikulski and Parren Mitchell, consistently voted against Contra aid in 1986. Their replacements, Kweisi Mfume and Ben Cardin, continued the pattern in 1987-88. [2]

Cuba connections

Cuban leader Fidel Castro "seemed very interested" in creating trade links with thousands of black American farmers under a U.S. law allowing some agricultural transactions with the island, the NAACP's leader said Wednesday.

Kweisi Mfume and other members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People delegation discussed the issue with Castro during a four-hour meeting Tuesday. The delegation includes John Boyd, president of the National Association of Black Farmers, representing more than 12,000 growers in 38 states.

America's black farmers are eyeing Cuba as a potential market under a U.S. law allowing direct commercial sales of agricultural products to the island on a cash basis, Mfume said.

"President Castro seemed very interested and had around him all the people in the government who could make that happen," Kweisi Mfume said.

The 2000 law chips away at the trade embargo imposed by the United States in the early 1960s shortly after Castro came to power. So far, Cuba has purchased hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American food.

Castro scheduled a meeting between the NAACP delegation and Pedro Alvarez, president of Cuba's food import company, for later this week, Mfume said.

Another meeting with Castro is possible before the group returns to the United States on Friday, Mfume said.

The former U.S. congressman first traveled to Cuba a decade ago as part of a delegation.

During the current visit, the NAACP delegation also met with government opponents, American diplomats in Havana and representatives of the National Assembly, Cuba's unicameral parliament.[3]

While in Cuba, Mfume said the NAACP would also work to establish links between the Federation of Cuban Women and WIN (Women in the NAACP), an auxiliary program of the NAACP that exclusively targets a wide range of issues affecting women.

The NAACP delegation plans meetings with Cuban health officials to study how this country's free health care system compares with the care-for-cost system in the United States. Although the U.S. has some of the best health care facilities and physicians in the world, African Americans continue to have a shorter average life span than whites and to suffer disproportionately from heart disease, kidney disease, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, certain types of cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

In addition to Castro, the NAACP met with six members of the Cuban Parliament, the National Assembly of the People's Power. Ramon Pez Ferro, the Assembly president of the Commission on International Relations, led the talks. Ferro said, "It is important for us to move ahead with the formal normalization of relations with the United States."

The NAACP delegation also met with the Rev. Raul Suarez, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and director of the Martin Luther King Center in Havana. Suarez, a member of the Progressive Baptist Convention, has worked since 1971 to eradicate racial prejudice.[4]

CBC/NOI Alliance

At a rare public gathering, September 16, 193, a diverse group of African-American leaders pledged greater unity within their sometimes fractured ranks, including the announcement of a more formalized working relationship between the Congressional Black Caucus and the Nation of Islam.

In a declaration of unity that brought a standing ovation from the crowd that included factions that have been at odds in the past, caucus chairman Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) said, "No longer will we allow people to divide us."

The agreement between the caucus and the often controversial Nation of Islam means that the two groups will consult on legislative issues and develop common strategies, much like the caucus and the NAACP have done on major issues such as the Lani Guinier nomination and President Clinton's budget package, he said.

The occasion was a caucus-sponsored town hall meeting entitled "Race in America," in which Mfume, Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan, NAACP executive director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Jesse Jackson, a former presidential candidate, were brought together to discuss what all agreed was the sorry state of race relations and solutions to the problems facing African Americans.

In the process, some tensions in their ranks surfaced unexpectedly and further underscored what all had agreed was the need for greater unity.

But Mfume, in the spirit of unity, announced at the close of the program that, "We want the word to go forward today to friend and foe alike that the Congressional Black Caucus, after having entered into a sacred covenant with the NAACP to work for real and meaningful change, will enter into that same covenant with the Nation of Islam" and other organizations, such as fraternities, sororities and professional groups...

The announcement of the formal Congressional Black Caucus-Nation of Islam alliance capped the event. The caucus and individual members have had informal relations with the Farrakhan group for years. But the Nation of Islam has not been deeply involved in national legislative issues; thus what positions it would take on various public policy issues is unknown.[5]

Texas lynching

Far more people showed up for the June 13, 1998 funeral of James Byrd, Jr. than the New Bethel Baptist Church in Jasper, Texas, could hold.

In just a week, the gruesome lynching of Byrd has generated mass outrage against the racism in the United States.

Among those attending the funeral were family and friends of Byrd plus members of Congress including Congressional Black Caucus leader Rep. Maxine Waters and Texas Reps. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Jim Turner, Texas Land Commissioner Gary Mauro, Houston Mayor Lee Brown, Houston City Councilperson Jew Don Boney and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume.[6]

Communist support

Tim Wheeler and Joyce Wheeler lived in the 7th Congressional District of Maryland and doorbelled to help elect Rep. Parren Mitchell their first African-American congressmember. Later, they cast their ballots for Rep. Kweisi Mfume and in 1996 voted for Elijah Cummings. They doorbelled for Barack Obama for President in 2008 and 2012. He carried the 7th CD in an overwhelming landslide. [7]

Support from Democratic Socialists of America

In 2006 Kweisi Mfume received $250 from the Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee for his campaign as a Democrats candidate for the Maryland seat in the U.S. Senate primary.[8]

American Rights at Work

In 2008 Kweisi Mfume served on the board of directors of American Rights at Work.[9]

References