In 1997, he took an appointment in Vice President Al Gore’s office directing a federal program that awarded grants and economic incentives to impoverished communities, classified as “empowerment zones” and “enterprise communities,” each receiving a different level of federal aid.21 Several of these zones were located in Fields’s former Louisiana district. 4Thompkins, “Cleo Fields Reaching for the Mountaintop After a Tough Climb.”. He also created a Congressional Classroom for elementary through secondary school-age students, noted for being the first of its kind in the country, to develop leadership and self-esteem while understanding the governmental process. The district was designed to collect a larger black populace — and more black votes — than a competing version. The Representative’s home remained within the district and the new borders still contained a majority–black population (58 percent). He finished first in a crowded seven-way primary, coming roughly 1,500 votes short of winning outright.

During his final year of law school in 1986, Fields ran a grass–roots campaign for the Louisiana state senate. 11Engstrom and Kirksey, “Race and Representational Districting in Louisiana:” 256, 259. Yet the flames of ambition burned in Fields at an early age. Fields believed his brief record as a Congressional representative would help him in the election. 18Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1996 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1997): 11–37. Upon completion of law school, the same year, Fields was elected to the Louisiana State Senate at the age of 24. Attic, Thomas Jefferson BuildingWashington, D.C. 20515(202) 226-1300, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“For four years, I had one foot in the House and one foot across the street in the Supreme Court,” Fields later recalled. His district woes were far from over, however, and the district was ultimately thrown out by the Supreme Court as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. In 1992, Fields was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as Congressman of Louisiana’s 4th Congressional district. Obama ran so we can all fly. "Every time I hear a gunshot," he declared in a speech reported by the Chicago Tribune, "I think about my child." "Sourcing the quote: 'Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. He's lost his mind.'"

Cleo C. Fields (born November 22, 1962) is an American attorney, politician and member of the Democratic Party from the U.S. state of Louisiana. He also demonstrated the drive and energy to make good on his opportunities." He went on to complete two terms as Congressman.

The state legislature had passed a law in 2006 that had defined the date of the swearing in of Fields and of the intended beneficiary, Shreveport Republican Wayne Waddell, in a way that would have allowed Fields and Waddell to stand for re-election in November 2007 and serve one more term, but the court ruled the law unconstitutional. In 1980, he founded the fundraising group Young Adults for Positive Action and in 1987 he was elected to the Louisiana Senate.

15Tyler Bridges, “Jefferson Joins Race, Is Pitted With Fields,” 9 February 1995, Times–Picayune (New Orleans, LA). Fields went on to serve as Chair of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus from 2000-2001 and completed his term as State Senator in 2007. In the fall of 1996, he decided not to seek re-election due to redistricting. Martin Luther King marched so Jesse Jackson could run. [1] "I know I'm going against the odds, but I am an odds-buster," he noted in The Commercial Appeal. I thought mommas were supposed to put three patches in a pair of pants. His remarks in the Los Angeles Times continued this theme: "When a baby cries, it's not a white baby or a black baby — it's a hungry baby," he asserted.

Fields retaliated by labeling her campaign racist and refusing to endorse her in her later race for United States Senate. He narrowly beat the top two white Democratic candidates in the primary and made it to a runoff with Republican Mike Foster. He was still in law school when he began his campaign for state senator, doing most of the organizational work himself, even writing his own jingles for radio commercials. Much of his tenure in the state Senate was taken up with designing a congressional district that would give voice to the black population of his region. It’s been one of the most productive things I’ve done with my life.” But, he also conceded, “When I was in Congress, I thought it was the greatest job in the world.”23. Everybody laughed, including the teacher. Some analysts actually wagered that Fields chances in the election might be helped by the likelihood that many of Foster's supporters would go duck hunting on election day.

Fields used his voting power in the service of a liberal agenda. “Chills just went down my spine,” Fields remarked about his swearing–in.1 Yet the controversy over racial gerrymandering and the peculiarity of Louisiana’s election law extinguished Fields’s meteoric political career in the U.S. House after just two terms. 19McKinney, “‘There’s A Bright Future Ahead’: Rep. Cleo Fields Plans to Rest, Get a Job—And Return to Office.”. 2Gwendolyn Thompkins, “Cleo Fields Reaching for the Mountaintop After a Tough Climb,” 13 September 1995, Times–Picayune (New Orleans, LA): A1. Also, Fields no longer lived in the district he was supposed to represent; his Baton Rouge home ended up being within the same boundaries as House veteran Republican Richard Baker’s residence.18 Fields chose not to run against the very popular and well–entrenched Baker in 1996, further admitting that running in his former district would be “self–serving,” as his home was no longer located there. His dock-worker father died when he was four, leaving his mother, Alice, to tend for the children herself. He worked in a store and a McDonald's restaurant to help out the family. Fields is credited with the original version of a quotation that became popular following Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election. "Cleo Fields" in Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007. During high school, Fields worked for the Mayor's Office of Youth Opportunity, which helped pay for his college tuition. "My turn came around," he recalled. However, Louisiana did not pick up a seat after the next census. [3] At the time, Fields stated that the incident was just an innocent business transaction between friends, and said there was a humorous explanation, which he would make public shortly thereafter. "Jay-Z Talks 'My President Is Black' Remix, Blue Print 3 Delay", Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, Members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana,, African-American members of the United States House of Representatives, African-American state legislators in Louisiana, Democratic Party members of the United States House of Representatives, Democratic Party members of the United States House of Representatives from Louisiana, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Louisiana, Articles with dead external links from November 2016, Articles with permanently dead external links, BLP articles lacking sources from November 2008, Wikipedia articles with USCongress identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 29 October 2020, at 23:43. He secured funds for various projects and held numerous town hall meetings securing several Presidential Cabinet members to address his constituents concerns personally.

The couple had two sons, Cleo Brandon, born in 1995, and Christopher, born in 1998. 14Mercurio, “Return Engagement? Opponents say Fields actually lives in another house in a tony section of south Baton Rouge … "Voters have had an opportunity to see me and see how I operate as an elected official," he explained during a news conference covered by the Chicago Tribune.

Fields won 19 percent of the vote in the open primary, finishing as the runner–up to Republican Mike Foster—whose family had a history of service in the state and who switched party affiliation just weeks before the primary election. If no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, the state held a runoff election between the top–two vote getters. Fields served until he became ineligible to run for re-election because of term limits. 12Michael J. Dubin et al., U.S. Congressional Elections, 1788–1997 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1998): 779. At the "State of the Black Union 2008" symposium in New Orleans, Louisiana in February 2008, Fields said, "Rosa Parks sat down so we could stand up. Fields then began a general consulting group known as Cleo Fields and Associates where he serves as President and C.E.O. Throughout his youth, Fields worked several jobs to aid his family, taking a shift at a fast food restaurant and working at the Baton Rouge mayor’s office of youth opportunity to save money for college. Although he told Salon magazine that, upon first being elected to the Louisiana Senate, he identified himself as a lawyer to another senator (see above), he was not in fact a lawyer at that time.

13John Mercurio, “Return Engagement? And this senator walked up to me and said, `Excuse me, son. Fields graduated from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge in 1987. Fields went on to attend Southern University, gaining both a bachelor's degree and a law degree. 6Politics in America, 1990 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1989): 629. When his first child was born in 1995, he won cheers from his colleagues on the floor. He is a 1980 graduate of McKinley High School and a 1984 graduate of Southern University in the field of Mass Communications.

In junior high school, it really hit me in the face. He represented Louisiana's 4th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 1997 and ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Louisiana in 1995. 17Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1995: 12–5; Jack Wardlaw and Ed Anderson, “Black District Realignment OK’d,” 29 March 1996, Times–Picayune (New Orleans, LA).

He ran for governor in 1995, coming second in the jungle primary and then losing in a landslide to Mike Foster. “I don’t want to leave the impression that I am bitter [about the apportionment battle]. He was also outspoken in his support for gun control, which Foster roundly opposed. He also emerged as a leader in the war against illegal drugs. In 1990, Fields ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Republican Clyde Holloway for a U.S. House seat encompassing central Louisiana that included portions of the state capital, Baton Rouge. "[8] Another version has Fields saying, "W. E. B. Foster's conservative message, designed by media consultant Roy Fletcher, who also had handled Cleo Fields' campaign for Congress, resonated with Louisiana's voters, who in a previous election had given former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke nearly 40 percent of the popular vote. During his senior year at Southern University, he was elected Student Government Association President, and was also elected by the Louisiana Council of Student Body Presidents to serve on the Louisiana Board of Regents.

It is known today as the Louisiana Leadership Institute. For a then–33–year–old candidate like me to get 17 percent of the cross–over vote, I think that says there’s a bright future ahead, a bright future.”19 Fields also was optimistic that the 2000 Census would gain Louisiana an extra House seat, noting that the loss of a seat following the 1990 Census did not account for large numbers of minority and low–income residents. Ex–Rep. Fields served in the state Senate for six years. History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, “FIELDS, Cleo,”,-Cleo-(F000110)/

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