Donald M. Fraser

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Donald M. Fraser
1977 Congressional Pictorial Donald Fraser.jpg
44th Mayor of Minneapolis
In office
January 1, 1980 – December 31, 1993
Preceded byAlbert Hofstede
Succeeded bySharon Sayles Belton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1963 – January 3, 1979
Preceded byWalter Judd
Succeeded byMartin Olav Sabo
Personal details
Donald MacKay Fraser

(1924-02-20) February 20, 1924 (age 94)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Arvonne Skelton
(m. 1950; died 2018)
EducationUniversity of Minnesota, Twin Cities (BA, LLB)

Donald MacKay Fraser (born February 20, 1924) is an American politician from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Early life[edit]

Fraser was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Everett and Lois Fraser, immigrants from Canada. His father studied law at Harvard, began teaching at George Washington University and became dean of the University of Minnesota Law School in 1920. Fraser graduated from University High School in 1941 and that year, he entered the University of Minnesota. During college, he was a member of the varsity swimming team.

Having joined the US Navy ROTC, he was placed on active duty in July 1942 and continued his naval studies on campus until February 1944, when he was commissioned an officer and sent to the Pacific Theater during World War II. Fraser worked as a radar officer into the peacetime that followed, ending in 1946. In June 1946 Fraser returned to Minneapolis to study law at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Fraser served as a member of the Minnesota Law Review and wrote a law review article on the illegality of racial covenants for land, a position supported by the US Supreme Court in 1948. Fraser earned his law degree and was admitted to the bar, the same year. He joined the politically active firm of Larson, Loevinger, Lindquist, Freeman, and Fraser. Fraser engaged in general law practice and served as municipal attorney for the suburban community of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. He married Arvonne Skelton in 1950 and the following year, they had the first of their six children: Thomas, Mary, John, Lois, Anne, and Jean.

Political career[edit]

1973, Congressional Pictorial Directory

In 1954, Fraser was elected to the Minnesota Senate and served for eight years. In 1962, he was elected to the House of Representatives from Minnesota's Fifth District. He served there in the 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, 93rd, 94th, and 95th congresses, from January 3, 1963 until January 3, 1979. Fraser is now best known for his work as the chair of the International Organizations and Movements subcommittee, a post he used to hold hearings on human rights violations in U.S. allies. From 1973 to 1976, Fraser was a key leader in Congress in drafting legislation to reduce U.S. aid to countries whose governments engaged in a pattern of 'gross violations of human rights'.[1][2] He gave up his seat to run for the US Senate. He narrowly lost the 1978 Senate primary election to Bob Short, who then lost in the general election to David Durenberger.

Fraser served as president of Americans for Democratic Action from 1974 to 1976. He was elected mayor of Minneapolis in 1979, taking office on January 1, 1980. His first mayoral term was two years, and he was subsequently reelected to three four-year terms. He was the longest-serving mayor in Minneapolis history.

Fraser left office on December 31, 1993, and was succeeded by the city's first female and first African-American mayor, Sharon Sayles Belton.

He served as a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party. Arvonne Fraser ran for lieutenant governor in 1986.


His papers are available for research use. The collection is particularly strong in its documentation of international relations, Democratic Party policy and reform, human rights issues, environmental conservation, and women’s issues, in the 1960s and 1970s.[3]

Endorsement of United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA)[edit]

On April 23, 2014, Fraser endorsed the proposal for the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. He is one of only six people who served in Congress to do so.[4]

See also[edit]


  • United States Congress. "Donald M. Fraser (id: F000350)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  1. ^ Keys, Barbara (November 2010). "Congress, Kissinger, and the Origins of Human Rights Diplomacy" (PDF). Diplomatic History. 34 (4): 830–832. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  2. ^ Keys, Barbara J. (2014). Reclaiming American Virtue : The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s. pp. 140–148. ISBN 978-0-674-72485-3.
  3. ^ Donald M. Fraser Papers Archived August 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ UNPA website. Retrieved 28 August 2017

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Walter Judd
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 5th congressional district

January 3, 1963 – January 3, 1979
Succeeded by
Martin Olav Sabo
Party political offices
Title last held by
Howard Baker, George H. W. Bush, Peter Dominick, Gerald Ford, Robert Griffin, Thomas Kuchel, Mel Laird, Bob Mathias, George Murphy, Dick Poff, Chuck Percy, Al Quie, Charlotte Reid, Hugh Scott, Bill Steiger, John Tower
Response to the State of the Union address
Served alongside: Scoop Jackson, Mike Mansfield, John McCormack, Ed Muskie, Bill Proxmire, Patsy Mink
Succeeded by
Mike Mansfield
Preceded by
Albert Hofstede
Democratic nominee for Mayor of Minneapolis
1979, 1981, 1985, 1989
Succeeded by
Sharon Sayles Belton
Political offices
Preceded by
Albert Hofstede
Mayor of Minneapolis
January 1, 1980 – December 31, 1993
Succeeded by
Sharon Sayles Belton