- Democratic Member of Congress
- Member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Has called for a new trial for convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal
- Votes on the left side of legislation 95 to 100 percent of the time, according to Americans for Democratic Action.
See also: Congressional
Fattah is an African-American Democratic
Member of Congress who represents the Second District of
Pennsylvania, the state's only black-majority (61 percent) district,
which includes much of downtown Philadelphia as well as Cheltenham
Township. (His name, Chaka, a variant of the same first name as
African warrior-ruler Shaka Zulu, means “Great
King” in Swahili.)
Fattah was born
in Philadelphia in November 1956. His mother, the community
activist Sister Falaka Fattah, founded the House of Umoja
(Swahili for “Unity”) in West Philadelphia, which uses rehabilitation
on the teachings of the Marxist and black nationalist Maulana
Karenga to help black
teenage males who have suffered abuse or become involved
in gang activity.
age 21, Chaka Fattah was the House of Umoja's assistant
director. Three years later, in 1980, he took a job as
special assistant to Philadelphia's Director of Housing and Community
Development. In 1982 he became the youngest person ever elected
to the Pennsylvania state legislature, where he would serve for six years. Fattah studied at Harvard
Kennedy School of Government in 1984, and in 1986 he earned a
master’s degree in government
administration at the University
1988 Fattah was elected
to the Pennsylvania state senate. Three years later, when veteran congressman
William Gray (representing Pennsylvania's Second District) resigned to become president of the United Negro College
Fund, Fattah ran unsuccessfully for Gray's newly vacated
House seat as a Consumer Party candidate. He remained in the state
senate until 1994, at which time he again ran for the Second District seat and this time -- backed by
Philadelphia’s African-American clergy and running as a Democrat --
percent of the vote. He has been re-elected by huge margins every
two years since then, generally receiving between
86 and 98 percent
of the popular vote.
One of the leading
financial backers of Fattah's political campaigns has been the
Association for Justice, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Fattah also has garnered strong support from
the members and political action committees of influential labor unions like the American Federation of Teachers, AFSCME, UNITE
HERE!, the National Education Association, and the Service Employees
2005 Fattah joined the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus.
November 2006, less than a month after being reelected to Congress,
that he planned to run for mayor of Philadelphia the following year.
He lost that election, however, and remained in the House of Representatives. Fattah's
mayoral campaign was hampered, in part, by public-relations challenges stemming from his persistent calls for convicted cop-killer Mumia
Abu-Jamal to be granted a new trial.
In 2009 Fattah
President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package and co-sponsored
the Employee Free Choice Act, designed to deprive workers of the right to vote for or against unionization by means of a secret ballot.
Also in 2009, Fattah co-sponsored
H.R. 676, which was introduced by Rep. John Conyers and called for the establishment of a single-payer, government-run healthcare system for all Americans. During the early stages of the protracted healthcare debate that began that same year, Fattah vowed
to withhold his support for any bill that lacked a public option -- i.e., a government-run health insurance plan that would compete alongside private insurers and ultimately drive the latter out of business. In the end, however, Fattah supported the version of healthcare reform that became law in March 2010, even though it contained no provision for a public option.
January 27, 2010, Fattah was one of 54
Members of Congress
who signed a letter
calling on President Barack
to use diplomatic pressure to end Israel's blockade of Gaza – a
blockade which had been imposed in order to prevent the importation
of weaponry from Iran and Syria.
belongs to both the Congressional
and the Congressional Progressive
in the House of Representatives. Americans for Democratic Action
consistently rates his voting record as 95-100 percent on the left side of
legislation. For an overview of Fattah's voting record on significant issues during his career as a lawmaker, click here.
For additional information on Chaka Fattah, click here.