Melvin L. Watt

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Mel Watt

Template:TOCnestleft Melvin Watt is a former Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing the 12th district of North Carolina.


Mel Watt was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on August 26, 1945. He is a graduate of York Road High School in Charlotte. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1967 with a BS degree in Business Administration and was the president of the business honors fraternity as a result of having the highest academic average in the Business School. In 1970 he received a JD degree from Yale University Law School and was a published member of the Yale Law Journal. He has been awarded honorary degrees from North Carolina A&T State University, Johnson C. Smith University, Bennett College and Fisk University.

Mel Watt practiced law from 1970-1992, specializing in minority business and economic development law in a general practice law firm best known for its civil rights reputation. He has been an owner of several small businesses.

Mel Watt is a member of the Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church and a life member of the NAACP. He served as president of the Mecklenburg County Bar and has been a member of many professional, community and civic boards and organizations.

He is married to Eulada Paysour Watt, an educator. They have two sons, Brian and Jason, both of whom are graduates of Yale University and have earned graduate degrees.[1]


Mel Watt was the campaign manager of Harvey Gantt's campaigns for City Council, for Mayor of Charlotte and for the United States Senate. Mel served one term in the North Carolina Senate (1985-86) where he was called “the conscience of the Senate.” He did not seek a second term in the state Senate and announced that he would not consider running for elective office again until his children completed high school.

In 1992, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina's 12th Congressional District and became one of only two African American members elected to Congress from North Carolina in the 20th century.

Watt is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, on which he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet and serves on the Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law. Mel is also on the House Financial Services Committee, on which he serves on the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit and the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity. He was unanimously elected and served as the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (2005-2006).[2]

Democratic Socialists of America connection

"Progressive caucus" meeting

In 1996 Democratic Socialists of America sponsored a progressive caucus meeting at the Democratic National Convention. Among the participants was Congressman Mel Watt from North Carolina. In his remarks, he crystallized completely the problem facing progressives inside (and also outside) the Democratic Party..."The problem" he said "is that we have lowered our expectation of what is possible."[3]

DSA endorsement


In July 1996, the Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee endorsed Mel Watt, North Carolina 12, in that year's Congressional elections.[4]

Take Back America Conferences

Mel Watt was on the list of 153 speakers at the 2006 Take Back America conference, which was organized by the Institute for Policy Studies, and Democratic Socialists of America dominated Campaign for America's Future.[5]

Peace Pledge Coalition

In 2007 90 Members of Congress, pledged in an open letter delivered to President Bush: "We will only support appropriating funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq before you leave office." The letter was initiated by the Peace Pledge Coalition. The Coalition was led by Tim Carpenter, Progressive Democrats of America, Bob Fertik, Medea Benjamin, CodePink, Bill Fletcher, co-founder of Center for Labor Renewal David Swanson,,, Progressive Democrats of America, Kevin Zeese, Voters for Peace, Democracy Rising, Brad Friedman, co-founder of Velvet Revolution, Bill Moyer, Backbone Campaign.

Chris Murphy signed the letter.[6][7]

The Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First

Mel Watt is on the list of Congressional Representatives who have participated in hearings/briefings since 1998, with the very radical Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First, founded by Frances Moore Lappe (Democratic Socialists of America, Institute for Policy Studies) and Joseph Collins (Institute for Policy Studies), authors of the book "Food First".[8]

Supported by Council for a Livable World

The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Melvin L. Watt in his successful House of Representatives run as candidate for North Carolina.[9]

Clinton/Chile letter

February 24, 2000, 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have sent a letter to President Clinton requesting full U.S. cooperation with the Spanish case against former Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, a thorough investigation into the car-bomb assassination of Orlando Letelier and American citizen Ronni Moffitt, and the release of all U.S. documents pertaining to human rights abuses in Chile.

Dear President Clinton,
We would like to take this opportunity to commend your Administration's recent activity concerning the ongoing investigation into former Chilean General Augusto Pinochet's role in the 1976 car bombing of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C. We also appreciate your efforts to release documents pertaining to human rights abuses in Chile.

Signatories were George Miller (D-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sam Gejdenson (D-CT), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), John Conyers (D-MI), Barney Frank (D-MA), Pete Stark (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Lane Evans (D-IL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Tim Roemer (D- IN), Howard Berman (D-CA), John Olver (D-MA), Mel Watt (D- NC), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Patsy Mink (D-HI), Marcy Kaptur (D- OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Tierney (D-MA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Martin Sabo (D-MN), and Bob Filner (D-CA).[10]

2005 trip to Cuba

In March 2005 Mel Watt spent three days in Havana, Cuba, with a Congressional Black Caucus delegation.

The trip cost $1,329.23 which was paid for[11]by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation.

Edwards supporter

In July 2007, Black supporters of the John Edwards Presidential campaign included three congresspeople - Mel Watt (NC), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), G.K. Butterfield (NC) - Danny Glover, and a grab bag of former state Supreme Court justices, community leaders, union activists, city council members and state legislators, including Missouri state Rep. Connie Johnson. [12]

Congressional Progressive Caucus

In 1998 Melvin Watt Democrat was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[13]

As of February 20 2009 Mel Watt was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[14]

Congressional Black Caucus

Melvin L. Watt is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 113th Congress:[15]

Back to Cuba

In early April 2009, Rep. Barbara Lee led a congressional delegation to Havana for a 4-1/2 hour meeting with Raul Castro, telling reporters, "All of us are convinced that President Castro would like normal relations and would see normalization, ending the embargo, as beneficial to both countries." Reuters reported that Lee's delegation "avoided specifics" with Castro "but were struck by his humor, impressed by his involvement in Third World causes and firm in their belief that he wants to end U.S.-Cuba enmity."

The meeting between Castro, Lee, and five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, took place in secret without the customary presence of a US State Department official. No reporters attended, and according to the New York Times, Cuban television, which covered the visit, offered no details of what was said.

Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Laura Richardson (D-CA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Melvin Luther Watt (D-CA), and Barbara Lee. "Also particpating were Patrice Willougby, executive assistant to the Congressional Black Caucus, and Eulada Watt, wife of Congressman Mel Watt,".

Bobby Rush said he found Raul Castro "to be just the opposite of how he's being portrayed in the media." AP quotes Rush as saying, "I think what really surprised me, but also endeared to him was his keen sense of humor, his sense of history and his basic human qualities." At times, Rush said, the lawmakers and Castro chatted "like old family members."

Lee says she wanted to influence President Barack Obama prior to the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Trinadad and Tobago.

Prior to the trip, Lee told her hometown Oakland Tribune newspaper that the US had to open up to Cuba, but did not demand that the Cuban government open up; she blasted US policy as "based on antiquated Cold War-era thinking." She could have used those words to describe her own views.[16]

Lifting travel ban on Cuba

A May 03, 2013 Press release from the radical controlled and Institute for Policy Studies affiliated Latin America Working Group's Cuba Team stated:

Due to your action/emails/phone calls we have 59 signatures from House representatives urging President Obama to support travel to Cuba by granting general licenses for ALL current categories of travel.
By eliminating the laborious license application process, especially for people-to-people groups, that is managed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the majority of the bureaucratic red tape that holds up licensable travel to Cuba would disappear and actually facilitate what the President wanted to see in 2011, liberalized travel regulations.

Signatories included Rep. Mel Watt .[17]

ARA endorsement, 2012

The Alliance for Retired Americans endorsed Mel Watt in 2012.[18]

PDA contact

In 2013 Progressive Democrats of America assigned activists to deliver their material to almost every US Congressman and several Senators. Steve Bird, was assigned as contact for Rep. Watt.[19]

Nelson Mandela's funeral

In December 2013, the following Democratic legislators traveled to South Africa to attended Nelson Mandela's funeral Democrats Dels. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) and Donna Christensen (V.I.); and Democratic Reps. Marcia Fudge, John Conyers (Mich.), Charles Rangel (N.Y.), John Lewis, Jim McDermott (Wash.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Bobby Scott (Va.), Mel Watt (N.C.), Sheila Jackson-Lee (Tex.), Elijah Cummings (Md.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Gene Green (Tex.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio) and Terri Sewell (Ala.).[20]


The following are past and present staff:[21]

External links



  1. Official congressional bio, accessed August 16, 2011
  2. Official congressional bio, accessed August 16, 2011
  3. Democratic Left, September/October 1996, page 31]
  4. Democratic Left, July/August 1996, page 21
  5. Take Back America 2006 - Agenda & Speakers (accessed on May 14, 2010)
  6. War Is A Crime .org, Peace Pledge Coalition
  7. [ Sign the Pledge for Peace petition. Bob Fertik August 19, 2007
  8. [, Food First staff page]
  9. CLW website: Meet Our Candidates
  12. St. louis American, Black folks for John boyn Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2007
  13. DSA website: Members of the Progressive Caucus (archived on the Web Archive website)
  14. Congressional Progressive Caucus website: Caucus Member List
  15. Congressional Black Caucus: Members (accessed on Feb. 24, 2011)
  16.] Congresswoman Barbara Lee: Still stuck in the Cold War, political Warfare, Michael Waller, accessed August 20, 2010
  17. Update on Cuba Travel: We Gathered 59 Signatures, The LAWG Cuba Team: Mavis, Emily and Karina on May 03, 2013
  18. PAF
  19. PDA May 2013 Educate Congress Digest Letter drops (191 in total – 105 in April )
  20. The WaPo, Nelson Mandela memorial: Who’s in attendance, By Terri Rupar December 10, 2013
  21. Accessed 12/14/2011