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Wed, 06.11.1930

Charles Rangel, Politician born

Charles Rangel

Charles Rangel, a former Black politician, was born on this date in 1930.

He was born in Harlem, NY, and raised by his mother and grandmother after his parents separated. He dropped out of high school to serve in the U.S. Army from 1948-52. During his tour, he fought in Korea and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.  Rangel is a graduate of New York University and St. John's University School of Law.

He has spent his entire career in public service, first as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and later in the New York State Assembly. He was elected to the 92nd Congress in 1970 and has been re-elected to each succeeding congress. Congressman Rangel served 19 terms as the representative from the 15th Congressional District, comprising East and Central Harlem, the Upper West Side, and Washington Heights/Inwood.

Rangel was the ranking member of the Committee on Ways and Means, chair of the Board of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Dean of the New York State Congressional Delegation. As the former chair of the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, Rangel continues to lead the nation's fight against drug abuse and trafficking. In his efforts to reduce the flow of drugs into the United States and solve the continuing drug abuse crisis, he serves as chair of the Congressional Narcotics Abuse and Control Caucus.

He is a founding member and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; he was also chair of the New York State Council of Black Elected Democrats and was a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the hearings on the articles of impeachment of President Richard Nixon.  Rangel played a vital role in restoring the democratic government in Haiti and has authored several pieces of legislation to benefit minority and women veterans. This includes a successful bill establishing the Office of Minority Affairs within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In 1987, Rangel led the effort to include in the Internal Revenue Code one of the most effective anti-apartheid measures—the denial of tax credits for taxes paid to South Africa. This measure resulted in several Fortune 500 companies leaving South Africa.   Underlining the demographic changes that had been taking place, after winning the general election in November Afro Dominican Adriano Espaillat defeated Rangel to become the first non-African American to represent Harlem in the House since a series of Harlem-focused congressional districts were formed beginning in the 1940s.   Rangel left office at the expiration of his term on January 3, 2017.

Rangel lives in Harlem with his wife, Alma, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses and participates in many civic and community organizations. The Rangel family has two children.

To Become a Political Scientist


Black Americans in Congress 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian, and director 1990

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