Current U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver rose from humble beginnings in Texas to become the first Black mayor of Kansas City, Mo. The Alpha man and United Methodist Minister was elected to the mayor’s seat on March 26, 1991 and sworn in the following month.
Cleaver was born October 26, 1944 in Waxachie, Texas, and raised in public housing in Wichita Falls. After attending Murray State College as a football player with pro dreams, a knee injury forced a shift and he went on to graduate from Prairie View A&M University in 1968.
While at the school, he helped establish a branch of the SCLC while also discovering his other calling.
In 1973, Cleaver began working as the pastor of the St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, a role he maintained until 2009. Cleaver joined the world of politics in 1979 after he was elected as a Kansas City councilman. In 1991, Cleaver made his historic mayoral mark and served two terms, leaving office in 1999. In 2004, he was elected into his current role, overseeing Missouri’s 5th District, a largely white region with a sizable Black population.
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