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Sun, 05.20.1945

Harold Ford Sr., Politician born

Harold Ford Sr.

*Harold Ford Sr. was born on this date in 1945. He is a Black politician and lobbyist.

Harold Eugene Ford Sr. grew up on Horn Lake Road in the West Junction neighborhood of South Memphis. He is the eighth of fifteen children born to Newton, Jackson Ford, and Vera (Davis) Ford, prominent African American community members. His mother was a homemaker, and his father was an undertaker and businessman who opened N.J. Ford Funeral Home. His grandfather Lewie Ford started the family funeral business and became allied with E. H. Crump, an influential white politician in Memphis and the state in the early 20th century. His family has been in politics since his great-grandfather Newton Ford was elected as a county squire from 1888 to 1900.

Harold Ford graduated from Geeter High School in 1963, received his B.S. degree from Tennessee State University in Nashville in 1967, and did graduate work there for one year. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. He received a mortuary science degree from John A. Gupton College of Nashville in 1969 and worked in the family business as a mortician from 1969 until 1974. In 1982, he earned a Master of Business Administration from Howard University.

A Democratic former member of the United States House of Representatives representing the area of Memphis, Tennessee, for 11 terms—from 1975 until his retirement in 1997. He was the first Black to represent Tennessee in the U.S. Congress. During his 20 years in Congress, Ford obtained ample federal funds for his district through his membership on the House Ways and Means Committee. He advocated for increased government assistance for lower-income constituents, including job training, health care, and supplemental unemployment benefits, with welfare as a safety net.

He supported President Carter's initiatives to rebuild central cities and opposed Reagan-era cuts to Medicare and food stamps programs. He proposed reform legislation to transition recipients from welfare to work gradually, but it was not passed. His effectiveness diminished following his 1987 indictment on bank fraud charges that alleged he had used business loans for his personal needs. Ford denied the charges and claimed the prosecution was racially and politically motivated. He lost his committee leadership roles but remained in Congress until his trial.

He was ultimately acquitted in 1993 of all charges by a jury. He chose to retire from Congress in 1996. He is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He is a Baptist. Currently retired, Ford divides his time between Tennessee and Fisher Island in Miami-Dade County, Florida. He is still active in the Democratic Party. His son Harold Jr. returned to Tennessee from New York and successfully ran for his seat. In his retirement, he lives in Florida and the Hamptons. Ford married Dorothy Bowles in 1969, and the couple had three children: Harold Jr., Newton Jake, and Sir Isaac. They divorced in 1999. He and his second wife, Michelle Roberts, have two children: Andrew and Ava.

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