Emanuel Cleaver II (born October 26, 1944) is a United Methodist pastor and the U.S. Representative for Missouri's 5th congressional district, serving since 2005. He is a member of the Democratic Party, and in January 2010 became chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
His district includes the southern three-fourths of Kansas City, including virtually all of the city south of the Missouri River. It also includes most of the city's suburbs in Jackson County.
Early life, education and career
Born in Waxahachie, Texas, Cleaver grew up in public housing in Wichita Falls, Texas. He graduated from Prairie View A&M University where he was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Cleaver then moved to Kansas City, Missouri where he founded a branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and received a Master of Divinity degree from St.
Paul School of Theology.
Early political career
Cleaver served as Kansas City City Councilman from 1979 to 1991 and as mayor of Kansas City for two terms from 1991 until 1999. He is the first African American mayor of Kansas City. During the last days of his tenure as Mayor, Reverend Cleaver agreed to an international visit to London, England. On the invitation of UK NGO Operation Black Vote he assisted in campaigning for increased electoral participation in the elections for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. His visit culminated in a keynote speech at Westminster City Hall alongside British political figures including Ken Livingstone, Simon Hughes and Lee Jasper.
U.S. House of Representatives
After the comprise Budget Control Act deal had been reached to resolve the 2011 United States debt ceiling crisis in August 2011, Cleaver wrote on Twitter calling it a "sugar-coated Satan sandwich".
In late 2003, Karen McCarthy, who had represented the 5th district since 1995, announced her retirement. Despite having served in city government for 20 years, including eight years as mayor, Cleaver initially posted weak numbers in the Democratic primary and general elections. Cleaver went on to defeat former Clinton Administration official Jamie Metzl in the Democratic primary by a margin of 60-40 percent. In the general election, Republican Jeanne Patterson used her own fortune to fund her candidacy and made the race far more competitive than conventional wisdom would suggest for the district, which has long been reckoned as the second-most Democratic district in Missouri. The Democrats have held this seat for all but eight years since 1909, and without interruption since 1949.
By comparison, McCarthy won 65 percent in 2002.
Cleaver has been reelected twice with no substantive opposition.
During the course of the Democratic Presidential Primary, Cleaver endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton. Cleaver claimed that African American superdelegates who supported Clinton were subjected to harassment, threatened with primary opponents and called “Uncle Tom.” He said they were told, “You’re not black if you’re not supporting Barack Obama. … It's ugly.” On March 30, 2008, he was interviewed on The Sunday Edition on CBC Radio and said he realized he was on the losing team: "Even though I don't expect the Kansas City Chiefs to beat the Indianapolis Colts, I cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs." According to BlackMissouri.com., U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois asked Cleaver, “If it comes down to the last day and you’re the only superdelegate? … Do you want to go down in history as the one to prevent a black from winning the White House?" “I told him I’d think about it," Cleaver explained. Cleaver said during the course of the primary he'd be shocked if Obama wasn't the next President but made it clear he still supported Clinton until she suspended her bid.
On June 25, 2000, a road in Kansas City consisting of Brush Creek Blvd., E. 47th St., and the portion of Van Brunt Blvd. south of 31st St. was renamed Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard.
December 8th, 2011