Kweisi Mfume, the former head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a former member of Congress, was named last month to head the National Medical Association (NMA).
NMA leaders said they approached Mfume because they wanted somebody with a “proven background in mission-based work” that is a “seasoned health policy expert.”
While serving as president of the NAACP from 1996 to 2004, Mfume established the organization’s Office of Health Advocacy to fight for access to and affordability in health care. Mfume says he hopes to increase the number of minority health care workers and end racial disparities in disease diagnosis and treatment.
The group represents African American doctors and their patients and has about 30,000 physician members. Mfume is not a doctor.
“The NMA has been the conscience of the medical profession by making sure that African Americans and the underserved have a voice in their health and health care,” Mfume said in a statement. “We have a long way to go to truly eliminate health disparities, but now is the time to work with political, medical and community leaders to make that vision real.”
In his biography, Mfume wrote about how he changed his life for the better when he was 23 years old. He obtained a GED, graduated magna cum laude from Morgan State University and then obtained a master’s degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University. Born Frizzell Gray, he changed his name to Kweisi Mfume, a name from Ghana that translates to “Conquering Son of Kings.”