October 24, 1948 Frizzell Gerald Gray (Kweisi Mfume), former head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was born in Baltimore, Maryland.
At the age of 16, Mfume dropped out of high school and worked a number of jobs. At the age of 23, he returned to his studies and in 1976 earned his Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from Morgan State University. During that time, he also changed his name, which translates to “Conquering Son of Kings.” In 1984, Mfume earned his Master of Arts degree concentrating in international studies from John Hopkins University.
In 1978, Mfume was elected to the Baltimore City Council where he served until 1986 when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. Mfume served five terms in Congress, including one term as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, before he resigned in 1996 to accept the presidency of the NAACP. Before stepping down in 2004, Mfume reformed the organization’s finances and paid down a considerable amount of debt. In 2006, Mfume lost in the Democratic primary race for one of Maryland’s U.S. Senate seats. His biography, “No Free Ride: From the Mean Streets to the Mainstream,” was published in 1996.
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