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Biography of Alan Keyes

Bidisha Mukherjee
Alan Keyes is among the most-talked about African-American conservatives in the past three decades. He sought presidential nomination as a Republican candidate in the 2008 presidential election. Tap through this story to know more about his life...
Alan Keyes is a well-known personality in the political scenario of the United States. He can be described as an American diplomat, politician, and commentator.


Alan Lee Keyes was born in Long Island, New York, on August 7, 1950. His father, Allison Keyes, was a sergeant in the US Army and his mother, Gerthina, was a school teacher. Alan was the fifth child of his parents. During his childhood, Alan traveled with his father to various parts of the country, and also to Italy, because of his father's duty in the military.


He joined Cornell University as a student of political philosophy. Later, he was forced to leave the school, when he received death threats for not participating in a public demonstration against the Vietnam War. The Keyes family strongly supported the Vietnam War.
Soon after the threats, Alan moved to Paris, and stayed there for one year under a program of Cornell. Then he got an invitation from Harvard University, and went on to join it. In 1972, he obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Government Affairs from Harvard.


In 1978, while pursuing his Ph.D., he joined the United States Department of States as a foreign service officer. In 1979, after the completion of his Ph.D., he moved to Mumbai as a consulate. In 1980 he was sent to Zimbabwe, where he served at the US embassy there.
He became a part of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff in 1981. He was assigned the post of the Ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. From 1985 - 88, he became the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations.
He campaigned for the US Senate in Maryland for the first time in 1988, but was not successful. He tried again for the second time in 1992, but remained unsuccessful. He tried for the nomination of President from the Republican Party twice, in 1996 and 2000, but did not succeed.
In the 1996 campaign, he ran into controversy when Atlanta police detained him for forcefully entering a debate for which he did not have any invitation. In 2000, he managed to get only twenty percent of the vote in Utah primary, which turned out to be his best performance overall.
In 2004, he received an invitation from the Republican Party to run for Illinois Senate, when Republican nominee Jack Ryan had to withdraw his candidature. He had just 86 days for the preparation of his campaign, and at the end he was beaten by Democrat Barack Obama.
In the 2008 presidential elections, his hope for a Republican nomination was dashed when he could not garner enough support from his fellow Republicans.

Personal Life

Alan met his wife Jocelyn Marcel Keyes, an Indian from Kolkata, in Mumbai when he worked there at the consulate. The couple has three children - Francis, Maya and Andrew.
Alan has written a book named "Masters of the Dream: The Strength and Betrayal of Black America". In this book, he has addressed problems involving African Americans. He has formed his own political party, called America's Independent Party.