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Rep. John Conyers...

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Congressman John Conyers, Michigan Democrate has died at the age of 90.

Conyers was the longest serving African American in U.S. History; and is credited for creating the Congressional Black Caucus.

Here is the Bio of the Late Congressman John Conyers.

John James Conyers Jr. (May 16, 1929 – October 27, 2019) was an American politician of the Democratic Party who served as a U.S. Representative for Michigan from 1965 to 2017. The districts he represented always included part of crime ridden western Detroit. During his final three terms, his district included many of Detroit’s western suburbs, as well as a large portion of the Downriver area.

Conyers served more than 50 years in Congress, becoming the sixth-longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history; he was the longest-serving African American member of Congress.   Conyers was the Dean of the House of Representatives. By the end of his last term, he was the last remaining member of Congress who had served since the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.

After serving in the Korean War, Conyers became active in the civil rights movement. He also served as an aide to Congressman John Dingell before winning election to the House in 1964. He co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969 and established a reputation as one of the most liberal members of Congress. Conyers joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus after it was founded in 1991. Conyers supported the creation of a single-payer healthcare system and sponsored the United States National Health Care Act to achieve that goal. He also sponsored a bill to establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. Conyers ran for Mayor of Detroit in 1989 and 1993, but he was defeated in the primary in both elections.

Conyers served as the ranking Democratic member on the House Committee on the Judiciary from 1995 to 2007 and again from 2011 to 2017. He served as chairman of that committee from 2007 to 2011 and as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee from 1989 to 1995. In the wake of allegations that he had sexually harassed female staff members and secretly used taxpayer money to settle a harassment claim, Conyers announced his resignation on December 5, 2017.

Early life, education, and early career

Conyers was born in Highland Park, Michigan, and grew up in Detroit, the son of Lucille Janice (Simpson) and John Conyers, a labor leader.  Among his siblings was younger brother William Conyers. After graduating from Northwestern High School, Conyers served in the Michigan National Guard from 1948 to 1950; the U.S. Army from 1950 to 1954; and the U.S. Army Reserves from 1954 to 1957. Conyers served for a year in Korea during the Korean War as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was awarded combat and merit citations.

After his active military service, Conyers pursued a college education. He earned both his B.A. (1957) and LL.B. (1958) degrees from Wayne State University. After he was admitted to the bar, he worked on the staff of Congressman John Dingell. He also served as counsel to several Detroit-area labor union locals. From 1961 to 1963, he was a referee for Michigan’s workmen’s compensation department.

Conyers became one of the leaders of the civil rights movement. He was present in Selma, Alabama, on October 7, 1963, for the voter registration drive known as Freedom Day.

Detroit mayoral campaigns

While serving in the U.S. House, Conyers made two unsuccessful runs for mayor of Detroit: one in 1989 against incumbent Coleman Young and again in 1993.

1989

Incumbent Democratic Mayor Coleman Young decided to run for a fifth term, despite growing unpopularity and the declining economy of Detroit. In the September primary, Young won with 51% of the vote. Accountant Tom Barrow qualified for the November run-off by having 24%, and Conyers received 18% of the vote.   Despite the difficulties of the city, Young defeated Barrow in the run-off with 56% of the vote.

1993

In June 1993, incumbent Democratic Mayor Coleman Young decided to retire instead of seeking a sixth term, citing his age and health. Many observers believed that he had decided not to test his growing unpopularity. In a Detroit News poll in February, 81% said Young should retire.   Conyers was one of the 23 candidates who qualified for ballot access.

Dennis Archer was the front runner in the mayoral campaign from the beginning. The 51-year-old former State Supreme Court Justice raised over $1.6 million to finance his campaign. He won the September primary with 54% of the vote. Conyers came in fourth place.   Archer won the November election.

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

In 1964, Conyers ran for an open seat in what was then the 1st District, and defeated Republican Robert Blackwell with 84% of the vote.   He was reelected 13 times with even larger margins. After the 1990 United States Census, Michigan lost a congressional district, and there was redistricting. Conyers’s district was renumbered as the 14th district.

In 1992, Conyers won re-election to his 15th term in his new district, which included western suburbs of Detroit, with 82% of the vote against Republican nominee John Gordon.  He won re-election another nine times after that. His worst re-election performance was in 2010, when he got 77% of the vote against Republican nominee Don UkrainecIn 2013, his district was renamed as the 13th district.

In total, Conyers won re-election twenty-five times and was serving in his twenty-sixth term. He was the dean of the House as longest-serving current member, the third longest-serving member of the House in history, and the sixth longest-serving member of Congress in history. He was the second-longest serving member of either house of Congress in Michigan’s history, trailing only his former boss, Dingell. He was also the last member of the large Democratic freshman class of 1964 who was still serving in the House.

In May 2014, Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett determined that Conyers had not submitted enough valid nominating petition signatures to appear on the August 2014 Primary Election ballot. Two of his workers circulating petitions were not themselves registered voters at the time, which was required under Michigan law. But on May 23, Federal District Judge Matthew Leitman issued an injunction placing Conyers back on the ballot, ruling that the requirement that circulators be registered voters was similar to an Ohio law found unconstitutional in 2008 by a Federal appeals court. The Michigan Secretary of State’s office subsequently announced they would not appeal the ruling.

Reps Hold News Conference At Capitol On Free Flow Of Information Act Of 2013

Source: Win McNamee / Getty

Tenure

Conyers was one of the 13 founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and was considered the Dean of that group. Formed in 1969, the CBC was founded to strengthen African-American lawmakers’ ability to address the legislative concerns of Black and minority citizens. He served longer in Congress than any other African American. In 1971, he was one of the original members of Nixon’s Enemies List.

In 1965, Conyers won a seat as a freshman on the influential Judiciary Committee, which was then chaired by Democratic Congressman Emanuel Celler of New York. The assignment was considered an elite one, as Judiciary ranked behind only Ways and Means and Appropriations in terms of the number of Members who sought assignment there.

According to the National Journal, Conyers has been considered, with Pete StarkJohn LewisJim McDermott, and Barbara Lee, to be one of the most liberal members of Congress for many years. Rosa Parks, known for her prominent role in the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, moved to Detroit and served on Conyers’ staff between 1965 and 1988.

 

Conyers was known to have opposed regulation of online gambling. He opposed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 After Martin Luther King Jr.‘s assassination in 1968, Conyers introduced the first bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday. It is now celebrated as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Conyers introduced the “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act” (H.R. 3745) in January 1989. He re-introduced this bill each congressional term. It calls for establishing a commission to research the history of slavery in the United States and its effects on current society, which is to recommend ways to remedy this injustice against African Americans. The current version was introduced and referred to committee on January 3, 2013.   Conyers first introduced the proposed resolution in 1989, and has stated his intention to annually propose this act until it is approved and passed. Since 1997, the bill has been designated “H.R. 40,” most recently, H.R. 40. If passed, the commission would explore the longstanding effects of slavery on today’s society, politics, and economy.

“My bill does four things: It acknowledges the fundamental injustice and inhumanity of slavery; It establishes a commission to study slavery, its subsequent racial and economic discrimination against freed slaves; It studies the impact of those forces on today’s living African Americans; and the commission would then make recommendations to Congress on appropriate remedies to redress the harm inflicted on living African Americans.”

Bio Source:  Wikipedia