- American-born convert to Islam
- Member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1998
- Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Contends that the Tea Party is infested with white racists who "would love to see" black people "hanging on a tree"
- Asserts that U.S. schools should be modeled after Islamic madrassas
See also: Congressional Progressive Caucus Congressional Black Caucus
Born October 16, 1974 in Indianapolis, Andre Carson attended a Baptist church and was educated in a Catholic school. He converted to Islam in the 1990s after his exposure to the poetry of the Sufi mystic Rumi and The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
From 1996-2005, Carson worked as a law-enforcement officer for the Indiana State Excise Police. He earned a criminal-justice management degree from Concordia University in 2003, and a master's degree in business management from Indiana Wesleyan University two years later. In 2006 he took a job with Indiana's Department of Homeland Security.
Carson launched his political career in August 2007, when he was elected to the city-county council of Indianapolis and Marion County. That December, Carson's grandmother, Julia, a congresswoman who had represented Indiana's 7th District since 1997, died of lung cancer. Three months later, Andre Carson won a special election for his grandmother's vacant seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, thereby becoming the second Muslim member of Congress (the other was Keith Ellison). Carson has retained that legislative seat ever since.
In the House of Representatives, Carson is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Climate Change Caucus, the Human Rights Caucus, the Labor and Working Families Caucus, the LGBT Equality Caucus, and the Renewable/Efficient Energy Caucus, among others. He also serves as the CBC liaison to the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. He established a reputation for radicalism as a fierce opponent of the Iraq War and an avid supporter of a government-run, universal healthcare system. For an overview of Carson's positions and votes on a number of key political issues, click here.
On March 20, 2010, Carson and fellow CBC member John Lewis made headlines when they claimed that Tea Party protesters who opposed healthcare reform had hurled racial slurs at them as the congressmen headed toward the Capitol to vote on the PPACA. Specifically, Carson said that while “hundreds of people” were chanting “Kill the bill,” he had heard the “n – word” directed at him and Lewis “at least 15 times.” The late conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart subsequently offered a $100,000 reward for anyone who could provide audio or video proof to substantiate Carson's accusations. No one was ever able to provide such evidence, and the reward went unclaimed. Moreover, a film clip posted online by The Washington Times contradicted Carson's charge.
At an August 22, 2011 Congressional Black Caucus event in Miami, Carson told a gathering of supporters that the Tea Party was infested with white racism:
“This is the effort that we are seeing of Jim Crow. Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us [blacks] as second-class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me ... hanging on a tree. Some of them right now in Congress right now are comfortable with where we were fifty or sixty years ago. But it’s a new day with a black president and a Congressional Black Caucus.”
On May 26, 2012, Carson was a guest speaker at the 37th annual convention of the Islamic Circle of North America/Muslim American Society, in Hartford, Connecticut. During his remarks, Carson claimed that U.S. schools should be modeled after madrassas—Islamic schools infamous for their tendency to promote sexist, anti-Semitic teachings. Said Carson: “America will never tap into educational innovation and ingenuity without looking at the model that we have in our madrassas, in our schools, where innovation is encouraged, where the foundation is the Quran. And that model that we are pushing in some of our schools meets the multiple needs of students.... America must understand that she needs Muslims.”
Between January 2008 and June 2014, Carson received 55 separate political donations (totaling nearly $34,000 altogether) from Islamists affiliated with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.