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Sun, 08.04.1963

Keith Ellison, Politician, and Activist born

Keith Ellison

*Keith Ellison was born on this date in 1963. He is a Black lawyer and politician.

Keith Maurice Ellison is one of five boys raised in a Roman Catholic home in Detroit, Michigan. Ellison’s father was a psychiatrist, and his mother was a social worker. Growing up, Ellison was influenced by his family's involvement in the American Civil Rights movement, including his grandfather's work as a member of the NAACP in Louisiana. He converted to Islam at 19 while attending Wayne State University.

In 1987, he married Kim Ellison and moved to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating in 1990. After graduation, Ellison joined the firm of Lindquist & Vennum, where he litigated for three years. He then served as Executive Director of the Legal Rights Center, a nonprofit organization that specialized in the defense of indigent clients.

In 2002, Ellison was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives for House District 58B, a blue-collar Minneapolis neighborhood comprising 76 percent non-whites.  In 2006 Ellison became the first Muslim to be elected to the US Congress.  He is also the first black from Minnesota to be in the House of Representatives.  He and his former wife, Kim, have four children.

Ellison was the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 5th congressional district from 2007 to 2019. He also served as the titular Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2017 to 2018. In Congress, Ellison was a vice-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a Chief Deputy Whip. He also sat on the House Committee on Financial Services.

On June 5, 2018, Ellison announced that he would not seek reelection to a seventh term in Congress in 2018 but would run for Minnesota Attorney General instead. During the campaign, several misconduct allegations surfaced that in 2006, Ellison "pushed, shoved and verbally abused" his former girlfriend, Amy Alexander.  Ellison denied the accusation and alleged that Alexander had harassed and threatened to "destroy" him.  In August 2018, Ellison was accused again by ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan and her son of attempting to drag her off a bed while shouting obscenities. Ellison denied her allegations.  An investigation commissioned by the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party concluded that Monahan's accusation was unsubstantiated.

Ellison won the Democratic primary with 49.8% of the vote, a little more than 30% over his nearest rival.  On November 6, 2018, Ellison won the election for Attorney General by more than 100,000 votes. This made him the first Muslim person to win the election to a statewide office in the United States and the first Black elected to statewide office in Minnesota.  In 2021, his office prosecuted the Derick Chauvin murder case of George Floyd.

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