Kweisi Mfume (pronounced Kwah-EE-see Oom-FOO-may), was born, raised, and educated in the city of Baltimore. It was there that he followed his dreams to impact society and shape a more humane public policy.
Forced to drop out of school at the age of 16 after the death of his mother, Mfume quickly began the process of rebuilding his life. He enrolled in the Community College of Baltimore and became politically active as editor of the school's newspaper. He went on to attend Morgan State University and graduated magna cum laude. He would later return there as an adjunct professor teaching courses in political science and communications.
As Mfume's community involvement grew, so did his popularity as an activist, radio commentator, newscaster, and on-air personality. He translated that experience into a grassroots election victory when he won a seat on the Baltimore City Council in 1979 by a margin of just three votes.
During his seven years of service in local government, Mfume 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.
In 1984 he earned a master's degree in liberal arts with a concentration in international studies from Johns Hopkins University, where he currently serves as a trustee. In 1986 he was decisively elected to the Congressional seat that he was to hold for the next decade. As a member of Congress, Mfume was active with a broad array of committee obligations: he served on the Banking and Financial Services Committee, held the ranking seat on the General Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, and served as a member of the Committee on Education and as a senior member of the Small Business Committee.
During his third term, Mfume 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. As a member of the House of Representatives, 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 the Act to US 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 served as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives and, during his last term in Congress, he was appointed by the Democratic Caucus as the party's Vice-Chairman for Communications.
Mfume became President and Chief Executive Officer of the NAACP in February of 1996 after being unanimously elected to the post. He served there for nine years. During that time, he significantly raised the national profile of the NAACP while helping to restore its prominence among the nation's civil rights organizations.
Mfume is credited with helping to raise over $100 million in outside contributions for the organization, while at the same time developing its national Corporate Diversity Project and establishing 75 new college-based NAACP chapters. His five-point program of advocacy included civil rights enforcement, educational excellence, economic empowerment, health advocacy, and youth outreach.
In 2003 he negotiated for and successfully secured the NAACP's official United Nations Status as a non-governmental organization (NGO) within that world body with all of the rights and privileges thereto and pertaining.
Mfume is a member of the Continuity of Government Commission funded by the Carnegie, Hewlett Packard, and MacArthur foundations. The Commission was created to study and recommend reforms related to Presidential and Congressional succession in a time of national catastrophic crisis or in the event of a terrorist attack.
In 2008 Mfume traveled and served as national surrogate speaker for the “Obama for America” Presidential campaign.
In March of 2010 he was appointed as the Executive Director of the National Medical Association, the nation’s oldest and largest medical association representing the interests of African American physicians and their patients. In 2011 he was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health.
He was formerly a member of the Board of Visitors of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, the Advisory Board of the Schomburg Center, People for the American Way, the Meyerhof Scholars Advisory Board of the University of Maryland, the Senior Advisory Committee of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the African American Advisory Board of PepsiCo. He is presently a member of the Gamma Boulé Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity; the Order of the Prince Hall Masons; and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
He recently completed 12 years of service on the Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees and currently serves on the Morgan State University Board of Regents, the National Advisory Council of Boy Scouts of America, and the American Society of Association Executives.
His background in broadcasting includes 13 years in radio. For nine years he hosted the locally award-winning television show The Bottom Line, and for four years he hosted the nationally syndicated NBC-Hearst TV special The Remarkable Journey.
He is the recipient of the NAACP Image Award and the 2005 Telly Award for the television documentary Ticket to Freedom. He has made appearances as a guest commentator on the ABC's This Week Program and has been featured on 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Meet the Press, The O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, Nightline, and countless other news and public affairs programs.
Mfume is the recipient of ten honorary doctorate degrees and hundreds of other awards, proclamations, and citations. His best-selling autobiography is entitled No Free Ride.
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