Politicians are not always viewed in high regard in many communities but it takes a brave person to enter the high stakes arena of politics. One Congress member that has undoubtedly fought for the benefit of all people is Congressman George Kenneth (G.K.) Butterfield. Whether it was spending time during his undergraduate years at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) fighting for voting rights or winning key cases as a civil rights attorney in eastern North Carolina, Butterfield has always walked the walk.
Since 2004, he has served the North Carolina 1st Congressional district in the House of Representatives which spans 24 counties from Durham to Elizabeth City. He is a long-standing member of the Congressional Black Caucus and currently serves as the Chair of Subcommittee on Elections. His time before joining Congress was preceded by a two year stint as an Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court and he is also a proud veteran of the U.S. Army. Now more than ever it is important to give our elders their flowers while they are still with us.
Born and raised in the then segregated town of Wilson, North Carolina, Butterfield has always tackled race issues head on. His father, Dr. G.K. Butterfield Sr. attended Meharry Dental College while his mother was an elementary educator for 48 years. They ensured that their son was privy to the sacrifice and work it took to gain civil rights as Dr. Butterfield was a founding member of the Wilson NAACP and the first African American elected to the city’s council since Reconstruction. His mother, Addie, focused on ensuring that black children were able to read and write. Born to parents who were both highly educated and heavily involved in improving their communities, Congressman Butterfield was destined to a life of service.
Before his time in congress, Butterfield was a seasoned litigator that focused on civil rights cases including many that dealt with voting rights. His passion for voting rights stemmed from witnessing his father lose a city county election due to other members changing the voting rules while he and his family were away on vacation. His past has increasingly led him to be an outspoken opponent of voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandering. Aside from voting rights, he has focused on veterans’ affairs, affordable healthcare, addressing growing inequities in poverty, and diversity in leadership issues. His work in Congress is reflective of the values that he holds and that were instilled in him by his community activists parents.
During his tenure in congress, Butterfield has led the effort to be a voice and advocate for the poor and disenfranchised. He has sponsored, joined, or co-authored numerous bills to this effect including those seeking to close maternal healthcare disparities and end preventable maternal morbidity, an Anti-Lynching Act, Paycheck Fairness Act, and a commission to study and develop reparations for African Americans. A review of his record and time in office reveals that he practices what he preaches in terms of acting as a vessel for the underprivileged of his constituency.
To learn more about the life and record of Congressman G.K. Butterfield you can visit https://butterfield.house.gov/