University of Pittsburgh
January 13, 2005

Pitt's Black Action Society to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day With Jan. 18 Lecture Featuring Kweisi Mfume

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Kweisi Mfume, former national president and CEO of the NAACP and now a consultant for the organization, will be the guest speaker at the University of Pittsburgh Black Action Society's commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 in Benedum Hall Auditorium, 3700 O'Hara St., Oakland. The event is free and open to the public.

Politically active since college, Mfume, whose West African name means conquering son of kings, was born, raised, and educated in Baltimore. As a college freshman at Morgan State University, he served as editor of the school's newspaper and as head of the Black student union. Mfume went on to earn the Master of Arts degree in liberal arts, with a concentration in international studies, from Johns Hopkins University.

In 1979, he was elected to Baltimore City Council, winning by a margin of three votes. He was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1986, representing Maryland's 7th Congressional District.

As a member of congress, Mfume served on the Banking and Financial Services Committee and the Committee on Education, was a senior member of the Small Business Committee, and held the ranking seat on the General Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. In his third term, the Speaker of the House chose him to serve on the Ethics Committee and the Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate, where he later became chair. In addition, Mfume was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and, later, caucus chair of the Task Force on Affirmative Action. In his last term, the House Democratic Caucus appointed him to be the vice chair for communications.

On Feb. 20, 1996, the NAACP's board of directors unanimously elected Mfume as national president and CEO. A member of the U.S. Congress for 10 years, Mfume resigned his congressional seat to accept the position, which he held until Jan. 1, 2005. To help assure a smooth transition to a new administration, he will serve as a consultant to the NAACP until July 1.

While president and CEO of the NAACP, Mfume raised the standards and expectations of its branches nationwide and worked with the NAACP volunteers across the country to help usher in a new generation of civil rights advocacy. He developed a six-point action agenda—which encompasses civil rights, political empowerment, educational excellence, economic development, health, and youth outreach—that gave the NAACP a clear and compelling blueprint for the 21st century.

Mfume has served as a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors, the advisory board of the Schomburg Commission for the Preservation of Black Culture, and the senior advisory committee of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is a member of the Gamma Boule Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Most Worshipful Prince Hal Masons, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and People for the American Way. In addition, he serves on the Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees, the Morgan State University Board of Regents, and the Meyerhoff National Advisory Board of the University of Maryland.

Mfume's background includes 13 years in radio and nine years of hosting the award-winning cable television show "The Bottom Line." He is the recipient of eight honorary doctorate degrees and hundreds of awards, proclamations, and citations. His best-selling autobiography is titled No Free Ride (Random House, 1996).

For more information, contact Sara Dadlani at 412-648-7834 or sadst41@pitt.edu.

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