Kweisi Mfume (born Frizzell Gerald Gray, October 24, 1948, in Baltimore, Maryland) is the former President/CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as a five-term Democratic Congressman from Maryland's 7th congressional district, serving in the 100th through 104th Congress. On September 12, 2006, he lost a primary campaign for the United States Senate seat that was being vacated by Maryland U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes.
Mfume was born Frizzell Gray in Turners Station, Maryland, 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 work as many as three jobs at a time to support his three sisters. He also began hanging around street corners, sometimes with the wrong friends. In his biography, he reports that he "was locked up a couple of times on suspicion of theft because happened to be black and happened to be young, and happened to be guilty and a rock pusher." Speculation as to the degree of his entanglement with the law has varied, especially as he later came into prominence. He became father to five children with several different women during his difficult teenage years, whom he actively supports (and who actively support him in his politics) to this day. He has since adopted one child as well.
At age 23, it came upon Gray to change his life for the better. He returned to his studies and obtained his GED, going on to begin studies at the Community College of Baltimore, where he served as the head of its Black Student Union and the editor of the school newspaper. He went on to attend Morgan State University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1976. He would go on to attain an M.L.A. in Liberal Arts in 1984, concentrating in International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. In the early 1970s, in recognition of his heritage and his success over his beginnings, he legally changed his name to Kweisi Mfume, a name from Ghana that translates to "Conquering Son of Kings".