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The Honorable Melvin L. Watt

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Information about The Honorable Melvin L. Watt

Profile image of The Honorable Melvin L. Watt

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
U.S. Congressman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Beans (Lima), Macaroni, Cheese
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
North Carolina Mountains
Favorite Quote:
Keep In The Road.

Birthplace

Born:
8/26/1945
Birth Location:
Charlotte, North Carolina

Profession

Category:
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
U.S. Congressman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Beans (Lima), Macaroni, Cheese
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
North Carolina Mountains
Favorite Quote:
Keep In The Road.

Birthplace

Born:
8/26/1945
Birth Location:
Charlotte
See how The Honorable Melvin L. Watt is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

The second son of Evelyn Harris and the second African American elected to Congress from North Carolina, Melvin Watt has lived the life of a frontrunner. Born to a single teenaged mother in rural North Carolina in 1945, Watt's childhood home lacked electricity and indoor plumbing. Watt's fervent work ethic was demonstrated in his youth when he drove a school bus before and after school in order to contribute to the financial support of his family. His mother's encouragement to read and excel in school prepared Watt to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina in 1963 and to subsequently earn a scholarship to Yale University Law School.

After graduation, Watt returned to Charlotte, entering the law firm of Chambers, Stein, Ferguson and Becton. Watt worked as a civil rights attorney for twenty-two years, during which time he served one term in the North Carolina State Senate from 1985 to 1986. Declining to run for a second term or any other elective office until his two sons graduated from high school, Watt chose to work behind the scenes politically. He managed Harvey Gantt's campaigns for City Council, mayor of Charlotte and U.S. Senate. In 1992, with the formation of North Carolina's 12th District that included his hometown, Watt opted to run for Congress, with his eldest son, Brian, as his campaign manager.

As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Watt served on the Financial Services Committee and Judiciary Committee and is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law. He is one of two black members elected to Congress in this century. Watt is known as a progressive Democrat and fearless defender of civil liberties. He has been repeatedly reelected to Congress, where he has developed and supported legislation affecting African American and Latino citizens in the areas of housing, welfare, reparations and education.

Watt also loves sports. He has been the State Democratic Baseball Team's star pitcher and also plays tennis. He is a lifetime member of the NAACP, was president of the Mecklenburg County Bar Association and still attends his childhood church, Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church, on Sundays. Watt and his wife, Eulada, have two sons, Brian and Jason, who are both graduates of their father's alma mater, Yale University.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Melvin Watt's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Melvin Watt lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Melvin Watt describes his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Melvin Watt talks about his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Melvin Watt reads his great-great grandfather's words
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Melvin Watt talks about his great-great grandfather, Wesley Mauney
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Melvin Watt describes his father and how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Melvin Watt describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Melvin Watt describes the sights, sounds, and smells of Dixie, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Melvin Watt describes the bookmobile that came to his house as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Melvin Watt remembers his love of reading as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Melvin Watt recalls attending Mount Olive Presbyterian Church in Dixie, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Melvin Watt talks about school desegregation in 1961
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Melvin Watt describes threatening to strike for new school buses in high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Melvin Watt talks about becoming an activist
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Melvin Watt talks about the Greensboro, North Carolina sit-ins
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Melvin Watt remembers his influential teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Melvin Watt describes his decision to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Melvin Watt talks about how his white roommates moved out of their room at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Melvin Watt describes his graduate student roommate, Marvin Moode
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Melvin Watt talks about being a dorm floor advisor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Melvin Watt talks about not making the freshmen baseball team at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Melvin Watt describes his experiences at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Melvin Watt talks about his decision to become a lawyer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Melvin Watt describes his decision to attend Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Melvin Watt describes attending Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Melvin Watt talks about his classmates at Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Melvin Watt talks about Justice Robert Bork and finishing Yale Law School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Melvin Watt shares how he met his wife
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Melvin Watt talks about practicing law in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Melvin Watt talks about managing Harvey Gantt's City Council campaigns
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Melvin Watt describes Harvey Gantt's election as the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Melvin Watt describes Harvey Gantt's U.S. Senate campaign in 1990
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Melvin Watt talks about how he decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Melvin Watt describes his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Melvin Watt talks about the Congressional Black Caucus in the 1990s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Melvin Watt outlines his service in the U.S. Congress
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Melvin Watt describes Trading Places and Wake Up 911
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Melvin Watt shares his view on reparations
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Melvin Watt describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Melvin Watt comments on the Clinton administration
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Melvin Watt talks about President Bill Clinton and the black community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Melvin Watt shares his views on diversity in the executive branch
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Melvin Watt talks about U.S. relations with Africa
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Melvin Watt reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Melvin Watt talks about his mother's pride in his success
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Melvin Watt describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Melvin Watt narrates his photographs