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Conyers, Jr., John (1929- )

Image Courtesy of John Conyers Jr.

John Conyers, Jr. was born on May 16, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan.  He attended public schools and graduated from Northwestern High School in 1947.  After high school, he followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the United Automobile Workers Union  (UAW).  Conyers worked for the Lincoln Car Factory, where he became a director of education for UAW Local 900.

Conyers enlisted in the United States Army in August 1950 and became a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.  He was discharged from the army in 1954 after seeing combat in the Korean War.

Conyers returned to Wayne Sate University where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957, and a Juris Doctor degree in 1958 from Wayne State University’s School of Law.  After passing the bar in 1959, Conyers began practicing law in his hometown, Detroit, Michigan.  

His brief stint in private practice was interrupted in 1958 when he became a legislative assistant to Fifteenth District Michigan Congressman John Dingell, Jr.  Conyers worked for Dingell until 1961 and then became a referee for the Michigan Workmen’s Compensation Department.  With the support of Congressman Dingell, 35-year-old John Conyers was elected to the United States Congress in 1964, representing Michigan’s Fourteenth Congressional District.     

In 1971, Conyers was one of the thirteen founders of the Congressional Black Caucus.  He achieved notoriety in 1974 as a member of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee that brought charges against President Richard Nixon.  In 1983, he introduced the legislation that created the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday. After serving in Congress for over fifty-two years, Conyers resigned his seat on December 5, 2017, in the wake of charges of sexual harassment.

He is married to the former Monica Esters, and they have two children, John III and Carl Edward.

Bruce A. Ragsdale and Joel D. Treese, Black Americans in Congress, 1870- 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office,1990); Maurine Christopher, Black Americans in Congress (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976);;


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