Melvin L. Watt ("Mel") was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on August 26, 1945. He is a graduate of York Road High School in Charlotte. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1967 with a BS degree in Business Administration, served as the president of the business honors fraternity, and held the highest academic average in the Business School. In 1970 he received a JD degree from Yale University Law School and was a published member of the Yale Law Journal. He has been awarded honorary degrees from North Carolina A&T State University, Johnson C. Smith University, Bennett College and Fisk University.
Mel practiced law with Ferguson Stein Chambers from 1971-1992. He has been a small business owner. Mel was the campaign manager of Harvey Gantt's campaigns for City Council, for Mayor of Charlotte and for the United States Senate. Mel served one term in the North Carolina Senate (1985-86) where he was called “the conscience of the Senate.” Instead of seeking a second term in the state Senate, he announced that he would not run for elective office again until his children completed high school.
In 1992 (after both his children completed high school), Mel was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina's 12th Congressional District and became one of only two African American members elected to Congress from North Carolina in the 20th century. Mel is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee (on which he serves as Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law). In 1999, the Congressional Quarterly highlighted Mel in its article, “50 Ways to Do the Job of Congress” and recognized him as one of 28 “Emerging Players” in the post-September 11th Congress in 2002. In the fall of 2004, after his re-election for a seventh term, Mel was unanimously elected Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Mel is married to Eulada Paysour Watt, an educator. They have two sons, Brian and Jason, both with undergraduate degrees from Yale University and graduate degrees from other universities. Mel is a member of the Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church and a life member of the NAACP. He served as president of the Mecklenburg County Bar and has been a member of many professional, community and civic boards and organizations. Mel enjoys tennis, running, reading and music. For many years he has been the starting pitcher for the Democratic baseball team in the annual Congressional Baseball Game and was named most valuable player in 1995, 1996 and 2000.