It was dusk when about 15 Mercia Fudge Sorority sisters gathered on the deck of a friend’s house in Warrensville Heights, Washington.
It was a tough day. They were attending the funeral of US Congressman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a member of Delta Sigma Theta. Fudge, her best friend and former Chief of Staff of Tabs Jones, said that day in August 2008, some power brokers urged her to run for parliamentary seats.
He probably thought he could protect the legacy of Tabs Jones.
Fudge was the mayor of Warrensville Heights, a city with less than 14,000 residents. Congressional campaigns will require a huge treasure chest of war.
We started collecting money there. “Oh, I have money,” said Pamela Smith, a longtime friend of Delta.
There is no doubt that Fudge, who went to college for the first time in her family, became a lawyer, was the national chairman of Sorority, and Fudge, who worked at Capitol Hill, is ready to take office. Said. Fudge is elected eight Democrats by the 11th Congressional District of Ohio.
Today she is ready to become the Secretary of the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Once confirmed, Fudge will be the second black woman to hold the position, leading the agency facing the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression as the city struggles with the economy, and is the most powerful government in the United States. Become one of the leaders. It was devastated by a new coronavirus pandemic. ..
Some critics say they are not ready because of their lack of experience in housing policy and the potential for a steep learning curve. Fudge inherits a department with fewer staff and money than her predecessor Ben Carson, as 40 million Americans face the threat of eviction.
Earlier this month, the Senate on banking, housing and urban issues voted 17-7 to approve Fudge’s nomination, with nearly half of Republicans voting against it. The Senate will vote to appoint her as HUD Secretary this month.
However, her Fudge supporters have a deep connection with her community, her modest education, and her lifelong work as Chief of Staff, Mayor, and Congressman prepares her work. I say I did.
Fudge refused to interview the story, but about 20 friends, colleagues, schoolgirl club sisters, advocates, and high school classmates helped the silence, open the door to others, and end it. Describes a woman who is passionate about fighting. Hunger.
Her former high school classmate and long-time Ohio politician, Peter Lawson Jones, said she would be ignited by trying to do the right thing. There is nothing flashy about it. She is solid. It has a lot of integrity. And the HUD members will find that they have a champion on their side.
Faith-guided Fudge’s career
68-year-old Fudge grew up in Cleveland, after which she moved to Shaker Heights for about 10 miles.
Her faith is dedicated to her upbringing and tells everything she is still doing. He grew up in a house that goes to church every Sunday. Her mother and her grandmother attended with a full set of matching hats, dresses and coats.
I am a boy who sang in a choir. I can’t sing and I can’t put the melody in the bucket, but that’s what we did, Fudge recalled in her previous interview with USA TODAY. We were in the choir and had a discussion … there was a morning service, an afternoon service, and a Bible school. I’m that boy
Baptist Fudge said his faith teaches him that he is responsible for giving back.
He said I was doing the work that God had planned for me. And I’m fine with that.
Close relationships with his family are also fundamental to his life. Fudge, who is single and has no children, has two nephews, his granddaughter and his nephew. She was one of two children, but her only brother was fatally shot when she was in college.
At a virtual confirmation hearing last month, Fudge will introduce her family, including her 89-year-old mother, Marian L. Garth Safold, who was sitting behind her in a room at Kaiyahoga Community College in Ohio. became.
Fudge was raised by her mother, her unionist, and her grandmother, a domestic worker. She said neither had a formal education outside of high school, but they insisted on the importance of education and strong work ethic. He described them as very strong black women.
None of their lives have been easy, but they have always made us believe that we can be what we wanted, Fudge said. I just wanted them to be proud. I think that’s probably the most inspiring thing for me.
Fudge accepts Ohio roots
Her Fudge’s life is ingrained in his education. She still eats fried mortadella, plays the popular card game of African Americans, Bid Hoist, grills ribs, and appears at Warrensville Heights block parties.
She was the first black woman to be elected mayor of a predominantly African-American city on the outskirts of Cleveland.
She still has a house there. According to House’s Treasury Disclosure Report, he also has a home in Washington, D.C., where he stays while Congress is open.
Jones, a Fudge classmate at Shaker Heights High School, remembered her as a star athlete, especially on the basketball court. He also played on other teams such as fences, field hockey and volleyball.
Jones, 68, a former Ohio General Assembly member who turned to Shaker Heights City Assembly, said he seemed to have some confidence. She had only a calm atmosphere. And you didn’t hear her name associated with nonsense or nonsense … it wasn’t Marcia. And he enjoyed great relationships with both white and black students.
Shaker Heights has a close history of integration dating back to the 1950s. Black and white neighbors in some areas worked to be part of the community, but Mark Souther, an urban historian at Cleveland State University, said, “The idea of integration as a whole community probably until the late 1960s. Continued to resist. ”
According to the census, Shaker Heights today has a population of 56% white and 35% black.
Lee Fisher, who attended Shaker Heights two years before Fudge, said he was wise.
“You always knew she was destined to do something great,” he said.
Their careers then matched when Fisher was Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, Fudge was Chief of Staff of Tabs Jones, and then Mayor of Warrensville Heights.
Fudge went to Ohio State University, where he majored in business. He later attended the Cleveland Marshall Law School at Cleveland State University and graduated in 1983.
In the mid-1990s, Jones and Fudge later shared the first law firm space in Shaker Heights.
As his old friend Smith recalled, it was a set of small rooms in a boulevard building. There was no big sign outside with Fudge’s name on it. And it was Smith, Fudge, and their friend Masha Brooks who assembled the furniture, including Credenza. The carpenter didn’t have the money.
Retired educator Smith laughed and we were a poor black girl, struggling and struggling. I got everything I needed. We help each other.
They celebrated the victory together: getting the title, buying the first home, starting a career.
According to Smith, she saw someone who knew what she wanted to do, and she set the goal of completing a law degree in x years and passing the exam.
Black brotherhood provides a community
It was in Ohio that Fudge joined Delta Sigma Theta, one of the country’s largest black sororities. Then, in 1979, he took up the post of Sorority’s National Finance Committee and succeeded in chairing that committee two years later.
Mr Smith, who became campaign manager, said Fudge was aiming to be a sorority officer. In 1996, he won his bid for the President of the State and served for four years.
She was candid, Smith said. If you ask, she will tell you.
Smith said Fudge led the Brotherhood on a scholarship and service mission.
According to Smith, under his leadership, the School Girls Club has adopted exclusive programs such as repayment of headquarters mortgages and programs that provide tutoring and etiquette training for girls.
This role also gave Fudge a nationwide platform and connectivity to a network of tens of thousands of black women. Fudges are often seen wearing Delta’s signature crimson and cream colors, such as at Senate confirmation hearings.
When Sherrod Brown ran for the Ohio Senate, he went to see Fudge, who was called the influential mayor. She told him about the state-wide connection with Delta. He had a list of his sister’s names.
Since then, Brown, who has served in the Senate for the third term and lives in the Fudge district, attended Delta’s breakfast at the United States Capitol.
He said there were always these Ohio women in red coats running around the Capitol.
Fostering the next generation of black leaders
Fudge is known for hiring talented people, especially young people, to help them prepare. She says she coached several people inside and outside Capitol Hill, not only encouraging them, but also coaching them.
When Bradley Cellars was summoned to meet Fudge, then Mayor of Warrensville Heights, she was three months away from retiring from the NBA and playing golf clubs daily. He went to the office on the ground floor thinking she was asking for help on a sports project or something.
But in an office with closed doors, Fudge told Cellars from Warrensville Heights that she needed to lead the city’s economic development program. The salary was far from what the former Chicago Bulls player was accustomed to and what he was on his wishlist. Still, he heard the story of the woman he had just met and then decided to do it for a year or two.
She saw me something that probably wasn’t seen by me at the time. Cellars, who majored in economics at Ohio State University, said he saw his skill set because he was doing his homework.
The sales person has been working for 11 years. When Fudge decided to run for Congress, she urged him to run for mayor.
She said, “Well, I’m going to Congress, and the seats won’t be open for two and a half years, but I prepared you for this, remembering what the seller told her I showed you everything. You understand the mission. The rebuild took too long and you need to do this.
The seller is heading for his tenth year as mayor.
Bashir Jones didn’t care much about politics. She then met Fudge, who appeared as a guest on a Cleveland radio show 15 years ago. She told him that there was a difference between being an elected civil servant and being a civil servant. It shook me, he said.
Fudge took 36-year-old Jones under his wings, provided him with personal and political advice, helped raise money for the campaign, and called for help.
She always reminded him: if you do the right thing for people, people will do the right thing for you.
Fudge was the only person to support him at the first Democratic incumbent Cleveland City Council in 2013. He lost 600 votes. She advised him to run again four years later.
She ran me. Her mother does not support. They say “boy!” She ran me and I ran, Jones laughed. He won with 13 votes. This year he is running for mayor.
He believes Fudge is his mother-in-law.
She said, “I have your back.” And she never left me.
Fudge went to Congress
South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, the House’s majority whip, received a call from Fudge’s stepfather in 2008 asking him to support a bid for Tab Jones’ House of Representatives.
I told them they would do what I could, Cliburn recalled.
Fudge won the special and general elections.
Five years later, she was elected president of the Congressional Black Caucus, a powerful block that makes up the majority of the Democratic Party.
And in 2018, he threatened to challenge Nancy Pelosi about her position as Speaker of the House. Fudge chaired the subcommittee.
He was a member of the Agriculture, Education, Labor and Administration Committee of the House of Representatives, where he defended increased access to food and nutrition, addressed educational disparities, and protected voting rights.
Last year, Fudge urged the COVID-19 Relief Bill to include measures to allow free or reduced lunches through SNAP while attending school online. One in four voters in his district lives below poverty.
“She’s a practitioner,” said John Collet, president and chief executive officer of the Community Solutions Center, an independent think tank focused on Ohio’s economic affairs. “I have never seen her as someone leaning on her windmill and trying to move her things forward.”
Fudge also chairs a subcommittee on agriculture and elections, focusing on voter oppression.
Illinois General Assembly member Rodney Davis, the top Republican of the Election Subcommittee, served as a fudge on both committees. He called her a tough competitor.
According to Davis, I frowned when voting on Marcia’s nutrition-related amendments. We have a very heartfelt relationship there. That wasn’t always the case when she stepped into the House of Representatives and decided to chair the Election Subcommittee. But even if there are some differences, I think they respect each other.
Davis is supporting her for the HUD Secretary.
She knows she can answer the phone and call her secretary if there is a big problem in her district, so I think it’s a benefit no matter which party the administration is made up of. ..
Leaders of other members
Ohio General Assembly Joyce Beatty said that when she was a freshman, Fudge, then chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, invited her and another new black member to dinner one night and took her family. I remember telling you to come. Fudge said it was important for their families to understand the lives of parliamentarians.
They met in a private room at Capitol Hill. Fudge sat in the middle of a long table.
Beatty recalled that she wasn’t as busy as most leaders and she was sitting at the front of the table. He sat in the middle and said, “I’m always with you, whether she guides us or not.”
The freshman asked Fudge a question. He explained the protocol, committee assignments, and suggested a place to live. He also urged them to work across the hall.
If you want legislation … you can’t do it alone, Beatty remembered sharing the fudge.
Support didn’t stop there.
No seats have been assigned to the House of Representatives, but Beatty said Fudge would take his usual seat in the front aisle near the voting booth. She invited Beatty to sit beside her so she could instruct her how to do her parliament. It was there that Beatty was surprised that Republicans came to Fudge for advice.
Everyone knew where Marcia was sitting on the floor of the Chamber of Commerce, Beatty said. So I was able to sit down as I say, so the “second chair for my boss” was huge.
Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat in New Jersey, said Fudge was like his sister when he was elected in 2013. At that time, he was the only African-American Democrat in the chamber.
She really helped me deepen my relationship and friendship with the Congressional Black Caucus and helped me find out that this is really my family in Washington and my ally doing really good things. Gave me.
Mr Booker said he admitted that Fudge had worked behind the scenes to build momentum to pass the bill, including him in promoting the caucuses of criminal justice reform.
He said she knew how to make sausages.
Booker sought advice in 2019 when he considered running for president.
Fudge was also the only member of parliament who threatened his life after bringing vegan food to the caucuses.
She ridiculed me that if I returned vegan food to blacks at the caucuses, my time in the world could be shortened, she said with a smile.
Countries face a historic housing crisis
The Department of Housing and Urban Development was founded in 1965, after decades of predatory financial practices and red lines by federal and private lenders excluding black and brown families, low-income Americans live in the housing market. Was supposed to help enter the market.
Fudge starts with a budget of $ 47.9 billion and is down 15% from last year.
“It’s a dire time to learn at work,” said James Defilippis, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Bill Faith, secretary-general of the Ohio Homeless Housing Coalition, who worked with Fudge on housing measures, said the HUD was emptied.
He said it would be important to bring in good people in rebuilding the institution.
Fudge does his homework, including reading Richard Rossstein’s “Color of the Law: A Forgotten Story about How Our Government Segregated America.”
Fudge told lawmakers that 21 million Americans paid more than 30% of their income to their homes, and the situation was terrible before the pandemic.
“In any case, more than 500,000 people experienced homelessness in the United States in 2019,” Fudge told Senator. “It’s a catastrophic statistic.”
He promised to work with the Republicans and Democrats, among other things, to expand the housing program. He said only one in five eligible households received housing assistance.
“Like COVID-19, the housing crisis is not isolated by geography, people in the blue and red states, cities and towns,” he said.
He also vowed to deal with the racial disparity in his home. The black home ownership rate has not improved from 41% since 1968, when the Fair Housing Act was enacted.
To ensure that every American has a roof over his head, I’ll do everything with my power, Fudge said.
Not everyone admits what Fudge says.
Some critics have criticized her for writing a letter in 2015 on behalf of former judge Lance Mason in her domestic violence case. A few years later he was sentenced to death for murdering his wife. So, in a statement, he condemned the crime and said his support for Mason was based on a man he had known for years.
Others have accused her of being too partisan.
At a confirmation hearing, Pennsylvania Senator Patrick Toomy, a top Republican member of the Commission, asked Fudge about his comments last September. Fudge described Republicans who wanted to quickly take up the seat of the late Supreme Court judge Ruth Ginsburg as dignified, disgraceful, or honest.
Fudge replied that he had a reputation for being bipartisan.
I listen to my components and sometimes have a little passion for things. Is my tone always perfect? That’s not the case, he said. But I know. I have the ability and the ability to work with Republicans and I will do just that.
Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy criticized Fudge for saying that Republicans don’t care about colored people at all.
Do you think Republicans care about people of color?
Yes, Fudge replied.
Do you think the majority of Republicans care about people of color? Kennedy asked.
Yes, yes, Fudge said.
Toomy was one of the seven Republicans on the committee who voted against his nomination.
Close relationship with the local mayor.
Her supporters of her fudge initially urged her to lead her Department of Agriculture.
Cliburn, who led her promotion, said it was important for someone like Fudge to defend nutrition programs, rural development, and small-scale farm owners.
I wanted someone in the office to be there for a small peasant. He said he was there for the other end of the spectrum. He had the background, experience, and sensitivity to do that.
Instead, Biden nominated Tom Birsak, who headed the agricultural institution under the Obama administration.
Ohio Senator Brown also urged Fudge to lead a farm agency, but said he would prioritize housing and work closely with Fudge as the new chair of the Banking, Housing and Issues Commission.
We are doing terrible things about housing in this country. So I’m excited about her being there, he said. I like her idea that she is in the room with President Biden at these cabinet meetings.
Mayor Nan Welly, a Democrat on behalf of Dayton, Ohio, said her experience as mayor of Fudge helps her success because she knows what local civil servants need.
According to Welly, he is naturally familiar with many mayors.
Silent killer against competition
It’s the game table that many say Fudge has also defeated rivals, including her friends and her family. His determination to win suggests how the HUD will be implemented in this era of widespread needs.
Some victories were brought about by his regular hoist partner, Cliburn. They often play games with other black legislators until late at night after a Congressional Black Caucus event.
We won’t lose, he said.