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F R I D A Y

NAACP president Kweisi Mfume has a strange résumé: former five-term congressman and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, unofficial dissenter on the Baltimore City Council, news announcer for a radio station owned by James Brown, and two-bit street hustler in West Baltimore. At age 24, after a street-corner epiphany, Frizzell Gray left the rough-and-tough gambling life, changed his name, and began a remarkable life of public service. Mfume’s new memoir, No Free Ride: From the Mean Streets to the Mainstream, is, however, smaller-than-life—especially Mfume’s life. The book is a string of anecdotes, vaguely organized and clunky, that does justice to neither Mfume’s fighting spirit nor his record as an independent thinker in a conformist era. Regardless of Ride’s failings, I’ll eagerly wait in line to hear Mfume speak at 7 p.m. at St. Margaret’s Church, 1830 Connecticut Ave. NW. $5. (202) 429-9272. (Ruth Levine)