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date: 01 April 2020

Mfume, Kweisi locked

1948Congressman, civil rights leader, and president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1996.
  • Alonford James Robinson

Extract

The eldest of four children, Kweisi Mfume (born Frizzell Gray) was raised in a poor community just outside Baltimore, Maryland, by his mother and stepfather, Mary and Clifton Gray. After years of physical abuse, Mary Gray left her husband in 1960 and moved the family to a neighborhood closer to the city. Four years later she was diagnosed with cancer and within a short time learned the disease was terminal. Mfume and his sisters were devastated by the news and suffered another traumatic blow when she died, literally, in the arms of her only son. In his autobiography, No Free Ride, Mfume recalls just how difficult it was losing his mother. Mfume quit high school after his mother died and worked to support his three sisters. Disillusioned, he also began hanging out on the streets, becoming a gang leader and fathering several illegitimate children.

Disappointed with ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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