Charles B. Rangel (born June 11, 1930) is an American politician. He has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1971, representing the Fifteenth Congressional District of New York (map) His district was numbered the Eighteenth District from 1971-1973; the Nineteenth District from 1973-1983; and the Sixteenth District from 1983-1993. Rangel's district encompasses Upper Manhattan and includes such neighborhoods as Harlem, Spanish Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood, and part of the Upper West Side. He was born in New York City and served in the United States Army from 1948 to 1952, earning a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service in the Korean War. He attended New York University and obtained a degree in Law from St. John's University.
Rangel served in the New York State Assembly from 1966 to 1970, when he was elected to the House, defeating long-time Congressman Adam Clayton Powell in the Democratic primary. His first committee assignment was on the House Judiciary Committee where he participated in the impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon. He is now the Ranking Member of the Committee on Ways and Means and Chairman of the Board of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus, where he has also served as chairman, and of which he continues to be a member. He is currently the fourth-longest serving Democratic House member, behind John Dingell, John Conyers and Dave Obey.
Rangel is also noteworthy for his willingness to risk arrest for participating in political protests. Most recently, on July 13, 2004, he was the first of three sitting US House members to be arrested on trespassing charges, for protesting alleged human rights abuses in Sudan in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington. Nearly two decades previously, he had been arrested for participating in an anti-apartheid rally in front of the South African Embassy in Washington. On March 15, 1999, Congressman Rangel was arrested along with two other prominent African-American leaders (civil rights activist Al Sharpton and former Mayor David Dinkins), for protesting the fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo, an African-American, by four white New York City police officers. Later in the week of July 13, 2004, Congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois and Congressman Joe Hoeffel of Pennsylvania would also be arrested at the Sudanese Embassy.
On September 22, 2005, Rangel compared Republican President George W. Bush to Bull Connor, the former Public Safety Commissioner of Birmingham, Alabama, stating: "George Bush is our Bull Connor." In response, Vice President Dick Cheney, during an interview on the Rush Limbaugh radio program on October 3, 2005, stated: "I'm frankly surprised at his comments. It almost struck me - they were so out of line, it almost struck me that there was some - Charlie was having some problem. Charlie is losing it, I guess." Rangel responded, "The fact that he would make a crack at my age, he ought to be ashamed of himself...He should look so good at 75."
Rangel is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.