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Mon, 08.07.1950

Alan Keyes, Political Activist born

Alan Keyes

*Alan Keyes was born on this date in 1950. He is a Black political activist and diplomat from the state of Maryland.

Alan Lee Keyes was born in New York City, the fifth child of a sergeant in the United States Army and a homemaker. The family traveled frequently; his father transferred to installations in Georgia, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and overseas in Italy.  After graduation from high school, Keyes attended Cornell University where he criticized local efforts in favor of the American Civil Rights movement and strongly supported the Vietnam War.

After receiving death threats because of his political stances, Keyes left Cornell for Harvard University where he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in government affairs in 1972. He received his doctoral degree in government affairs in 1979, writing his dissertation on Alexander Hamilton and constitutional theory.

Just a year before completing his doctoral studies, Keyes joined the State Department as an aid of UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick who was a mentor to him. That same year, he was assigned to the consulate in Bombay, India, where as a desk officer he met his future wife. Keyes also worked at the embassy in Zimbabwe. He settled in Washington, DC in 1981 and two years later President Ronald Reagan reappointed him to the United Nations with the full rank of ambassador.  He remained in the United Nations until 1987. That year, Keyes defended the Reagan policy against the imposition of economic sanctions on South Africa as punishment for apartheid. This was an unpopular position within the Black community, and Keyes was ridiculed by other Black leaders.

Keyes resigned in protest over a disagreement in relative United Nations funding and ran for the United States Senate representing Maryland in 1988. With only 38 percent of the vote, he lost. In 1991, Keyes briefly served as the interim president of the Historically Black Alabama A&M University in Huntsville.  There Keyes sparked controversy when he ordered university trustees not to speak with journalists. The following year, he again ran for and lost a bid for the Senate with only 29 percent of the vote. Keyes was criticized when reports came out that he had paid himself a salary from campaign funds of approximately $8,500 each month. Keyes also sought the Republican nomination in the 1996 Presidential election and again in the 2000 primary season.

He was considered one of the leading Blacks in the Republican Party.  On August 4, 2004, the Illinois Republican Party offered Keyes the nomination as the replacement candidate to run against Barrack Obama in the race for the U.S. Senate. He is a Roman Catholic and married to Jocelyn Marcel Keyes, an East Indian-American. The couple has three children Francis, Maya, and Andrew.

On May 8, 2009, Keyes and 21 others were arrested while protesting President Barack Obama's commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame. Keyes was charged with trespassing and released on $250 bond.  He was arrested a second time on May 16.

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