Keith Ellison is the new deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Democrats gathered in Atlanta, Georgia on February 25th to select their new chairman, and the winner was Tom Perez, with Keith Ellison coming in a close second. However, Perez’s first act as chair was to make Ellison deputy chair.
Here’s what you need to know about Keith Ellison’s education.
1. He Went to the University of Detroit Jesuit High School
Keith Ellison was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and he went to high school at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, a Roman Catholic school in Detroit for grades 7 through 12.
It was in high school that Ellison met his future wife. Kim Ellison was Keith’s high school sweetheart, and the two were married in 1987; they divorced in 2012.
Ellison later converted from Catholicism to Islam.
2. He Attended Wayne State University & Worked on the School Newspaper
After graduating from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, Keith Ellison enrolled in Wayne State University, a public research college located in Detroit, Michigan.
Ellison majored in economics while at Wayne State University. According to Mother Jones, he lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Detroit while attending college.
Ellison worked on the school newspaper while at Wayne State University, and he encountered some controversy in his freshman year after running a controversial cartoon. The cartoon, which was not by Ellison but which Ellison convinced the editor to run, showed five black men playing basketball next to a man in a KKK robe, and the caption read, “How many Honkies are in this picture?”
In a subsequent piece in the paper explaining the reasoning behind publishing the cartoon, Ellison wrote that “the graphic was intended to be absurd. Both groups were depicted in their most ludicrous stereotypes. For anyone to relate it to reality is even more ridiculous.”
3. He Converted to Islam While at Wayne State University
It was at Wayne State University that Ellison converted from Catholicism to Islam.
“I can’t claim that I was the most observant Catholic at the time. I had begin to really look around and ask myself about the social circumstances of the country, issues of justice, issues of change,” Ellison said in an interview with Al Jazeera in 2011. “And when I looked at my spiritual life and I looked at what might help inform positive social change, justice in society, I found Islam.”
In 2007, Ellison became the first Muslim ever elected to serve in the United States Congress.
4. He Attended the University of Minnesota Law School
After graduating from Wayne State University, Ellison moved away from Michigan to attend the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis.
Ellison graduated with his Juris Doctor 1990.
While he was at the University of Minnesota Law School, Ellison worked for the Minnesota Daily, the school’s newspaper.
5. At the University of Minnesota Law School, He Defended Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam
A number of his columns for the Minnesota Daily were controversial and later came up during his political campaigns.
This included one in which Ellison defended Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, who the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as anti-Semitic and anti-white.
Ellison later apologized for failing to “adequately scrutinize the positions” of Farrakhan, according to the Washington Post.