At a Glance
- Career History: Radio talk-show host (2002-2004); Kansas City, Mo. Mayor (1991-1999); Kansas City Council (1979-1991); Pastor (1970-present)
- Birthday: Oct. 26, 1944
- Hometown: Waxahachie, Texas
- Alma Mater: Prairie View A&M University, B.S., 1968; St. Paul School of Theology, M.Div., 1974
- Spouse: Dianne
- Religion: Methodist
- Committees: Financial Services Committee
- DC Office: 1433 Longworth House Office Building, 202-225-4535
- District Offices: Kansas City, Mo., 816-842-4545; Independence, Mo., 816-833-4545
- Web site
Path to Power
Born in the Dallas suburb of Waxahachie in 1944, Cleaver spent his childhood living in what had once been a slave cabin. While his father worked as a cleaner and his mother grew vegetables to eat, the family survived by picking cotton. It would later spend several years in public housing in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Cleaver's foray into activism began as a high-school sophomore, when he led a nonviolent protest against whites-only movie theaters in town. Though the protests were initially unsuccessful, Cleaver says entry was opened to blacks after he went to college.
Cleaver usually votes with his House Democrats and joined the majority of his party 98 percent of the time during the 111th Congress.
In December 2010, Cleaver voted against censuring Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) who was found guilty by the House ethics panel for violating rules. Cleaver pushed for a reprimand instead, saying research going back to the 1830s suggests Rangel's actions didn't warrant the first such House action in 27 years.
Close with both Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Cleaver backed Clyburn's unsuccessful bid for the House Democrats' No. 2 post after the 2010 election. Hoyer ultimately won the post.