Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Kurt L. Schmoke (b. 1949)
MSA SC 3520-11606


Born in Baltimore, Maryland, December 1, 1949.  Attended Baltimore public schools; Yale University, B.A. (history), 1971; Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar; Harvard University School of Law, J.D., 1976.  Admitted to the Maryland bar.  Married; two children.

After graduation from law school in 1976, Kurt L. Schmoke became an attorney with the firm of Piper and Marbury.  He quickly moved on to become a member of the White House Domestic Policy Staff in the new Carter administration in 1977.  The following year he became assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland and then state's attorney for Baltimore City in 1982.  In 1987 he ran for mayor of Baltimore and became the city's first popularly elected black mayor, serving three terms from 1987 to 1999.  

Schmoke's first administration was noted for its sustained effort to promote adult literacy and to make Baltimore "The City That Reads."  Mayor Schmoke worked in partnership with Baltimore's public and private sectors to established a new city agency to promote adult literacy programs throughout the city. He also led a successful campaign to win more state funding for Baltimore's public schools.  Schmoke worked to revitalize city housing and established the Community Development Financing Corporation in order to raise public and private funds to renovate abandoned homes in the city.  In the 1990s, he worked with the Clinton administration's Empowerment Zone project to help bring development, housing, jobs and businesses to Baltimore's low-income neighborhoods.  Schmoke also cracked down on crime, making drug and gun sweeps through neighborhoods and putting police bike patrols on the streets and security cameras on street corners.  By the end of 1998, Schmoke announced his decision not to run for a fourth term as mayor of Baltimore, and he returned to private law practice after his term expired in 1999.  In 2002, Schmoke was named dean of the Howard University School of Law.

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