Last time I was ready with my contents to write this post, it did not happen. My candidate lost the Detroit Mayoral election unexpectedly that time. But the opportunity has finally come this time. Yesterday a young energetic state senator Hansen Hashem Clarke defeated a long term incumbent in the Primary of US State Michigan’s overwhelmingly democratic 13th Congressional district in Detroit.
I first saw Hansen Clarke around six to seven years ago. He was attending an Iftar gathering of Bangladeshi American’s in Detroit area. Several traits of this man caught my eye instantly. He has an appearance of a people you know. He has surprising similarity with an ordinary Bangladeshi man in the street, no one can absolutly make any mistake about his Bnagladeshi root by looking at him. He is a great and natural orator. His speeches are candid expressions and powerful inspirational calls at the same time. And thirdly in him you don’t see the fake modesty painted on the face of a typical politician. I guess the inherent respect and modesty in him is probably something genetically carried to him.
When I first met him, I had not yet heard of the name of another rising star in Chicago, Barack Hossain Obama. But there are stunning similarities in the lives of Hansen Hashem Clarke and our current President Barack Hossain Obama.
Nation first heard of Barack Obama as a state Senator from Chicago. And Hansen Clarke is now a state senator from Detroit. Hansen Hashem Clarke was born in Detroit, Michigan to a Bangladeshi American father Mozaffar Ali Hashem and an African American mother Thelma Clarke. He grew up in the city’s violence prone and most economically down trodden lower east side. His father died when he was 8 years old and his mother had to work as a crossing guard to try to make ends meet. Getting the opportunity to study under a scholarship from Detroit Institute of Arts, Hansen Clarke did his high school in Detroit’s prestigious Cass Technical High School. He earned his degree in arts from Cornell University and obtained law degree ( Juris Doctor) from georgetown University. In Cornell he competed against present day conservative radio personality Ann Coulter and was elected as a student trustee.
Hansen had a Muslim father from Bangladesh and a mother who grew up in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Detroit. Hansen was raised Muslim, then converted to Roman Catholicism. His wife, Choi Palmer-Cohen, was born in South Korea and was adopted by a Catholic mother and a Jewish father. What is she today? By day, a staffer at the Center for Continuing Legal Education in Ann Arbor. When she gets the chance, however, she’s an impressive jazz singer, belting out Ella Fitzgerald tunes. Clarke is an artist himself, executing, in his spare time, hauntingly impressionistic oils.
Mr Clarke has been exceedingly accesible to Bangladeshi Americans in state of Michigan. He visited Bangladesh in the first opportunity, paid tributes to his grand parents graves in Sylht area and was a panelist in an NRB related seminer that took place in 2008.
Mr Hansen Clarke is poised to win the 13th district Congressional race in November and be the first Bangladeshi American member of US Congress. And I really hope that Mr Clarke will not stop at being a member of the congress and he is destined to go further up. Barack Hossain Obama has showed the way. With a Muslim Bangladeshi father, Roman catholic Afro American Mother and a Korean wife adopted by a catholic mother and Jewish father, Hansen Hashem Clarke is embodiment of United States of America. In America, for Hansen Hashem Clarke, the sky is the limit.