Bangladeshi American makes it to US House (Lead, changing dateline)

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Thursday, November 4, 2010

WASHINGTON - Five Indian-Americans may have lost their bids to enter the US Congress, but a South Asian of Bangladeshi descent has made it for the first time in the history of the United States.

Hashem Clarke, a Bangladeshi descent democratic member of the Michigan Senate, has wrested a seat in the House of Representatives, held by Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick for more than 20 years,

Clarke’s election makes him only the third South Asian in US Congress after Dalip Singh Saund (1957-63; first Asian American in Congress) and Bobby Jindal (2004-2007).

Clarke was born in Detroit, Michigan to a Bangladeshi American father, Mozaffar Ali Hashem from Sylhet, and an African American mother, Thelma Clarke.

His father died when he was a child. Clarke attended Cass Technical High School, and then got admitted to a prestigious east-coast prep school to complete his high school. Clarke studied at Cornell University, graduating with a degree in fine arts.

He was elected to the student seat on the Cornell University Board of Trustees and was a member of the Quill and Dagger society. He then earned a law degree from Georgetown Law School in 1987.

Clarke worked as chief of staff to US Representative John Conyers, as well as in Wayne County during the administration of Edward H McNamara.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

Filed under: Politics

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