Black Graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School Seems a Sure Bet to Be the First Practicing Muslim in the U.S. Congress

Earlier this month Keith Ellison, a lawyer and state legislator from Minneapolis, won the Democratic primary for Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic, so it is near certain that Ellison will win the general election in November. He will be the first African American to represent Minnesota in Congress.

Ellison won a hard-fought campaign with 41 percent of the vote in a crowded field. Ellison was criticized by his opponents for his earlier affiliation with the Nation of Islam. He is no longer affiliated with that group but if elected he would be the first practicing Muslim to sit in the U.S. Congress.

Ellison is a native of Detroit but moved to Minneapolis to attend law school. After graduating from the University of Minnesota School of Law, he set up a practice in the city. He was elected to the Minnesota state legislature in 2002. Ellison and his wife, who is a mathematics teacher, have four children.

Improving the educational opportunities of black Americans is one of Ellison’s main goals. On his Web site he states, “Closing the achievement gap between children of color and white children is one of the most pressing educational challenges that our country faces. It is unacceptable that we allow a system of educational apartheid in our nation, especially in our largest urban areas.”

To learn more about Keith Ellison and his campaign for Congress, click here.