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Kweisi Mfume is Born

Today in Masonic History Kweisi Mfume is born in 1948.

Kweisi Mfume was an American politician and civil rights activist.

Kweisi Mfume was born Frizzell Gerald Gray on October 24, 1948 in Baltimore, Maryland. His father abandoned the family when Mfume was young. In his teens Mfume was in and out of trouble, the extent of the trouble and the severity of the trouble is in question. In his biography he writes "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 amount of trouble he was in during his youth increased once he entered the political arena.

At the age of 23, Mfume decided he needed to change his life for the better. He got his GED and began attending The Community College of Baltimore County. At the college he was president of the Black Student Union and the editor of the school newspaper. He went on to Morgan State University where he graduated in 1976 magna cum laude. It was in the 1970's that Mfume legally changed his name from Frizzell Gerald Gray to Kweisi Mfume. His chose the name from Ghana, it means "Conquering Son of Kings."

In 1978, Mfume was elected to the Baltimore City Council. There he was in political opposition with the mayor, who Mfume felt had neglected the poor neighborhoods of Baltimore. It was on the City Council that Mfume learned the art of political compromise. A lesson he would carry with him to the United States House of Representatives. He remained on the City Council until 1986.

In 1986, Mfume was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He served five terms in office. He was known as strong progressive Democrat, who was balanced with the with the capacity for practical compromise. In his fourth term he became head of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In February of 1996, Mfume left the House of Representatives to become the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). At the time he stated that he could do more for the advancement of American Civil Rights with the NAACP than he could in Congress. During his time as at the NAACP, Mfume reformed the organizations finances, allowing them to pay off their considerable debts. He also fought for the advancement of civil rights for African Americans.

Over the years since leaving Congress, Mfume has considered or has been asked to run for Mayor of Baltimore. To this point he has not thrown his hat in that ring. In 2006, he did run for one of the vacated Senate seats for Maryland, he was defeated though in the Democratic primary.

In 2013, Mfume was named the Chairman of Morgan State University, his alma mater.

Mfume is a member of Mount Olive Lodge No. 25 in Baltimore, Maryland.