Kweisi Mfume (/kwˈsi ʊmˈfm/ kwy-EE-see uum-FOO-may; born Frizzell Gerald Gray; October 24, 1948) is an American politician who is currently serving as the U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 7th congressional district, first serving from 1987 to 1996, and again since 2020. A member of the Democratic Party, Mfume first left his seat to become the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a position he held from 1996 to 2004. In 2006, he ran for the U.S. Senate seat that was being vacated by Paul Sarbanes, narrowly losing the Democratic primary election to Ben Cardin. Mfume returned to his former House seat in 2020 after it was left vacant by the death of Elijah Cummings.[1]

Early life and education

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 on street corners, which included being in the company of gang members.

In his 1996 autobiography, No Free Ride, Mfume said 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 fathered five children with several different women during his difficult teenage years. He has since adopted one child as well.[2][3]


Mfume with President Ronald Reagan in 1987

Mfume with Nelson Mandela in 1994

Mfume with wife Tiffany McMillan at the 2016 Democratic National Convention

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.

U.S. House of Representatives (1987–1996)

In November 1986, Mfume was elected to represent Maryland’s 7th congressional district, succeeding fellow Democrat Parren Mitchell. He won re-election to four more 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, he stayed with the NAACP.[6]

Mfume stepped down from his position at the NAACP in 2004 after an internal investigation of allegations that he had sexually harassed female subordinates.[7] Mfume acknowledged dating an NAACP employee, [8] and in May 2005, he apologized for having had the affair while leading the organization.[9]

The NAACP reportedly paid out $100,000 to settle Mfume’s alleged improprieties.[10]

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.[11] The Democratic primary for this seat was held on September 12, 2006, and Mfume lost the race to U.S. Representative Ben Cardin.[12]

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.[13][14] 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 March 2010, Mfume was named chief executive officer of the National Medical Association (NMA).[15] In late 2010, he was again rumored to be considering a run in the 2011 Baltimore mayoral election.[16] He left the NMA in June 2011.[17]

In May 2013, Mfume was named chair of the board of regents of his alma mater, Morgan State University. He assumed the position on July 1, 2013, succeeding the interim chair Martin Resnick.[18]

From mid-2013 to mid-2018, Mfume was the principal investigator for the Health Policy Research Consortium.[19]

U.S. House of Representatives (2020–present)

Mfume during the 116th Congress

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, in October.[20] On February 4, 2020, Mfume won the Democratic nomination for his former seat, defeating Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the widow of Elijah Cummings. As the 7th is a heavily Democratic, black-majority district, this all but assured Mfume’s return to Congress after a 24-year absence. He defeated Republican candidate Kimberly Klacik in the general election on April 28, 2020[21][1] and was sworn in on May 5, 2020.[22]

Mfume ran for a full term in the November 2020 race and won, again defeating Klacik.[20]

Committee assignments

In the 117th Congress Mfume serves on the following committees:[23]

Caucus memberships

Personal life

Mfume is a member of the Prince Hall Freemasons[25] and Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

In 2012, he married Tiffany McMillan, the granddaughter of Enolia McMillan, the first female president of the NAACP.[26]

See also


  1. ^ a b Witte, Brian; Cortez, Julio (April 29, 2020). “Ex-NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume wins Maryland seat in Congress”. Associated Press. Baltimore, MD. Retrieved October 1, 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. ^ 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
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ “Civil Rights Leader Announces Bid For U.S. Senate”. WBAL-TV. March 14, 2005. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  12. ^ “Cardin beats Mfume in Maryland Senate race”. NBC News. September 13, 2006. Archived from the original on March 9, 2020. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Ginyard, Tiffany (March 25, 2010). “Kweisi Mfume to Head National Medical Association”. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Dale, Gregory (March 20, 2011). “Kweisi Mfume stepping down as CEO of National Medical Association”. The Philadelphia Sun. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Bowman, Bridget (April 29, 2014). “Mfume Brings Dose of Activism to Health Policy”. Roll Call. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ “Official alphabetical List of the House of Representatives of the United States – One Hundred Seventeenth Congress” (PDF). Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  24. ^ “Membership”. Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  25. ^ “Famous Prince Hall Freemasons”. Archived from the original on January 15, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  26. ^ Portnoy, Jenna (January 17, 2020). “Mfume says he still has what it takes to continue Elijah Cummings’s legacy”. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 6, 2020.

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland’s 7th congressional district

January 3, 1987 – February 15, 1996
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Chair of the Joint Economic Committee
Succeeded by

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

President and CEO of the NAACP
Succeeded by

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by