- Democratic congresswoman representing Ohio
- Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Views America as a country awash in racism and sexism
Marcia L. Fudge was born on October 29, 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio. She earned a BS in Business Administration from Ohio State University in 1975, and a JD from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 1983. Prior to entering politics, she worked variously as a law clerk, an attorney, an auditor for the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Estate Tax Department, and a director of that same county’s Personal Property Tax Department.
Fudge served as chief-of-staff for U.S. Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Democrat, Ohio) from 1999-2001, and as mayor of Warrensville Heights—a mostly African-American suburb of Cleveland—from January 2000 until November 18, 2008. On that latter date, Fudge won a special congressional election to fill the vacancy created by the recent death of Rep. Tubbs Jones, and she has held that seat ever since. Fudge is a member of both the Congressional Black Caucus (which she chaired from 2013-15) and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Viewing the United States as a country awash in racism and sexism, Fudge is not averse to portraying her political and ideological opponents as bigots and misogynists. In November 2012, for instance, she reacted indignantly when Senator John McCain and other Republicans asserted that America’s United Nations Ambassador, Susan Rice (an African-American), was “incompetent” for having knowingly and repeatedly mischaracterized the details surrounding the September 11, 2012 Islamic terrorist attacks against a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. “It is a shame that anytime something goes wrong, they pick on women and minorities,” Fudge told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference. The comments by McCain and other Republicans, she said, were evidence of “clear sexism and racism.”
On NBC’s Meet the Press in July 2013, Fudge denounced the Florida jury that rendered “not guilty” verdicts on murder and manslaughter charges against George Zimmerman, a “white Hispanic” who in February 2012 had shot and killed black teenager Trayvon Martin in a case that made national headlines. Characterizing Zimmerman’s acquittal as evidence that blacks in the United States “are being attacked from so many sides,” Fudge called for “a broader discussion … [about] how we are treating minority people in this country.” As further evidence of racial injustice, the congresswoman cited also the recent Supreme Court decision that she said had “gutted” the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA). In reality, the 2013 Court ruling merely struck down, as anachronistic, a VRA provision requiring mainly Southern states to undergo—based on the presumption of their continuing racist tendencies—special federal scrutiny before being permitted to change their election laws in any way (e.g., by instituting Voter ID requirements or reconfiguring their voting districts).
In early December 2014, Fudge expressed outrage over a recent grand jury decision not to indict the white police officer who had fatally shot a black teenager named Michael Brown during a confrontation that past summer in Ferguson, Missouri. From the House floor, Fudge denounced the verdict as “yet another slap in our [black people’s] face,” “a blatant miscarriage of justice,” and “a painful reminder that … law enforcement officers kill our black and brown men and boys without repercussions.” Warning that “we [blacks] are running out of patience,” the congresswoman condemned the grand jury for having failed to offer “some reassurance that black and brown boys’ lives do matter,” and for failing to take seriously “the outrage and desperation of the black community.” “We must first acknowledge that we have a race issue that we are not addressing,” Fudge emphasized. “We must have open, honest, transparent conversations about prejudice, racism, and racial threat.”
Shortly after the November 2014 midterm elections in which Democrats had lost control of the Senate and lost a number of House seats as well, Fudge attributed the disappointing results to the fact that “our party has, to some extent, lost white Southerners due in part to the race of our President.” She also blamed a lack of enthusiasm in the Latino community, which she said “was insufficiently motivated.” By contrast, said Fudge, black activists had done more than their fair share on behalf of Democrats: “Our community organizations and churches mobilized to encourage early voting opportunities … Black elected officials crisscrossed the country to discuss the urgency and importance of this election. We phone banked, knocked on doors and held ‘Get Out the Vote’ rallies. Our losses were not a referendum on African American political engagement. We did our part, so don’t blame us!”
In January 2013, Fudge was livid at Republican legislators who had voted to cut funding for food stamps by $16.5 billion over the next 10 years. Said Fudge: “These same people [Republicans] believe if you do not work, you are lazy. These same people believe that if your children don’t get a good education, something is wrong with you. These are the craziest people I have seen in my life. Just absolute nuts. They don’t understand that the government’s job is to take care of its people…. These people [Republicans] are evil and mean. They care nothing about anybody but themselves.”
In October 2017, Fudge wrote a letter of support on behalf of Lance Mason, a former county judge and state senator who in 2014 had beaten his wife, Aisha Fraser Mason, so badly that her face required reconstructive surgery. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Mason had punched the woman twenty times and slammed her head against the dashboard of his automobile five times, breaking the orbital bone of her eye socket. Wrote Fudge in her 2017 letter: “Lance accepts full responsibility for his actions and has assured me that something like this will never happen again. Lance Mason is a good man who made a very bad mistake. I can only hope that you [the court that was sentencing him] can see in Lance what I and others see.” On November 17, 2018, Lance Mason was arrested as he fled the scene where Aisha had just been stabbed to death. In response to this news, Fudge said: “The person who committed these crimes is not the Lance Mason familiar to me. They were horrific crimes, and I condemn them. I and everyone who knew Aisha are mourning her loss.”
After Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced in July 2018 that she planned to step down from her post as chair of the Democratic National Committee, Fudge was named as the permanent chair of the Democratic National Convention which was slated to take place in Philadelphia during July 25-28.
For an overview of Fudge’s voting record on a wide array of key issues, click here.
Further Reading: “Marcia Fudge” (Votesmart.org, Ballotpedia.org, LinkedIn.com); “Enough Already with the Race Card” (by Deroy Murdock, re: Republican comments about Susan Rice, 11-30-2012); “Congressional Black Caucus Chair Fudge: ‘We Are Being Attacked from So Many Sides” (Breitbart.com, re: Trayvon Martin & the VRA, 7-21-2013); “Black Congresswoman: Decision Not to Indict Darren Wilson Was a ‘Slap in Our Face’” (RawStory.com, 12-2-2014); “Congressional Black Caucus Chair: Dems Lost Midterms Because of Racist White Southerners” (Breitbart.com, 11-12-2014); “Fudge Calls GOP Colleagues ‘Evil’ and ‘Nuts’” (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1-18-2013); “Fudge Once Wrote Letter of Support for Stabbing Suspect” (Associated Press, 11-20-2018); “Who Is DNC Chair Marcia Fudge?” (NBC News, 7-25-2016).