List of African-American United States Senators

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An African-American man in a black suit, a grey tie, and the U.S. Capitol dome behind the subject in the distance.
The official senate portrait of Barack Obama, the fifth African-American United States Senator who would later become the first African-American President

The United States Senate has had nine African-American elected or appointed officers.[1] The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral United States Congress, which is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States. No African American served in the elective office before the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1870. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the federal government and state governments from denying any citizen the right to vote because of that citizen's race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Of the nine senators, four were popularly elected, two were elected by the Mississippi State Senate, and three were appointed by a state Governor. The 113th United States Congress marked the first time that two African Americans have served concurrently in the Senate.[2]

The first two African-American senators represented the state of Mississippi during the Reconstruction Era, following the American Civil War. Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American to serve, was elected by the Mississippi State Senate to succeed Albert G. Brown, who resigned during the Civil War. Some members of the United States Senate opposed his being seated based on the Dred Scott Decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, claiming that Revels did not meet the citizenship requirement.[1] The Mississippi State Senate then elected Blanche Bruce in 1875, but Republicans lost power of the Mississippi State Senate, and Bruce was not elected to a second term in 1881.[1]

The next African-American United States Senator, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, took office in 1967. He was the first African American to be elected by popular vote after the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913, rather than be elected by the state legislature.[1] The Seventeenth Amendment established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote. Carol Moseley Braun and Barack Obama were both elected by the voters of Illinois, entering the Senate in 1993 and 2004, respectively.[1] Carol Moseley Braun is the first and last African-American woman to be elected - or appointed - to the Senate after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920. The Nineteenth Amendment prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. While serving in the Senate, Obama became the first African American to be elected President of the United States.[3] Roland Burris, also an African American, was appointed to fill the remainder of Obama's term.[4] The next two African-American Senators, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Mo Cowan of Massachusetts, were both appointed by their state's governors to fill the terms of Jim DeMint and John Kerry, respectively, who had resigned their positions.[1] On October 16, 2013, citizens of New Jersey elected Cory Booker in a special election to fill the seat of the late Senator Frank R. Lautenberg.[5] Sworn into office on October 31, 2013, he is the first African American Senator to be elected since Barack Obama in 2004 and the first to represent the state of New Jersey.

As of 2014, there have been 1,950 members of the United States Senate,[6] but only nine have been African American.[7][8] Sheila Jackson Lee, an African-American member of the United States House of Representatives, said "I frankly think it's a shame, and I think it is reflective of America sometimes still idling in the past."[9] While 58 nationwide organizations exists to elect female candidates to the United States Congress - including EMILY's List and the Susan B. Anthony List - no such organization exists to elect African-American candidates.[9]

List of African-American Senators of the United States[edit]

Parties

      Democratic       Republican

Senator State Took office Left office Party Congress Ref(s) Note(s)

Hiram Rhodes Revels - Brady-Handy-(restored).png

Hiram Rhodes Revels
(1827–1901)
Mississippi February 23, 1870 March 3, 1871 Republican 41st
(1869–1871)
[10][11] [note 1]

Blanche Bruce - Brady-Handy.jpg

Blanche Kelso Bruce
(1841–1898)
Mississippi March 4, 1875 March 3, 1881 Republican 44th
(1875–1877)
[12][13] [note 2]
45th
(1877–1879)
46th
(1879–1881)

Edward Brooke.jpg

Edward William Brooke, III
(born 1919)
Massachusetts January 3, 1967 January 3, 1979 Republican 90th
(1967–1969)
[14] [note 3]
91st
(1969–1971)
92nd
(1971–1973)
93rd
(1973–1975)
94th
(1975–1977)
95th
(1977–1979)

Carol Moseley Braun NZ.jpg

Carol Moseley Braun
(born 1947)
Illinois January 3, 1993 January 3, 1999 Democratic 103rd
(1993–1995)
[15][16] [note 4]
104th
(1995–1997)
105th
(1997–1999)

BarackObamaportrait.jpg

Barack Obama
(born 1961)
Illinois January 3, 2005 November 16, 2008 Democratic 109th
(2005–2007)
[3][17] [note 5]
110th
(2007–2009)

Sen Roland Burris.jpg

Roland W. Burris
(born 1937)
Illinois January 15, 2009 November 29, 2010 Democratic 111th
(2009–2011)
[4] [note 6]

Tim Scott, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

Tim Scott
(born 1965)
South Carolina January 2, 2013 Incumbent Republican 113th
(2013–2015)
[18] [note 7]

Mo Cowan, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

Mo Cowan
(born 1969)
Massachusetts February 1, 2013 July 16, 2013 Democratic 113th
(2013–2015)
[19] [note 8]

Cory Booker Senate.jpg

Cory Booker
(born 1969)
New Jersey October 31, 2013 Incumbent Democratic 113th
(2013–2015)
[5][20] [note 9]

African Americans elected to the U.S. Senate, but not seated[edit]

Political Party

      Republican

Senator State Took office Left office Party Congress Former slave Ref(s) Note(s)

P. B. S. Pinchback - Brady-Handy.jpg

P. B. S. Pinchback
(1837–1921)
Louisiana Vacant Vacant Republican 44th
(1875–1877)
No [21] [note 10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Retired from office. First African American to serve in the United States Senate and Congress. First African-American Republican elected to Congress. First African American to serve in Congress from Mississippi.[10]
  2. ^ Retired from office. First African American to serve a full six-year term as a United States Senator. The only Senator to be a former slave.[13]
  3. ^ Lost office during reelection. First African American elected to the Senate by direct election. First African American to serve in Congress from Massachusetts.[14]
  4. ^ Lost office during reelection. First African-American female and African-American Democrat to serve in the United States Senate.[15]
  5. ^ Resigned from office. First African-American President of the United States.[3]
  6. ^ Appointed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill vacancy caused by the resignation of President-elect Barack Obama. Not a candidate during special election following his appointment. First African American to succeed another African American in the Senate.[4]
  7. ^ Appointed by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to fill vacancy caused by the resignation of Jim DeMint. First African American to serve in both chambers of the United States Congress.
  8. ^ Appointed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to fill vacancy caused by the resignation of John Kerry. Not a candidate during special election following his appointment. First African-American Senator appointed by an African-American Governor. The first African American to serve alongside another African-American Senator - Tim Scott.
  9. ^ Elected to fill vacancy caused by the death of Frank R. Lautenberg. First African American to be elected to the Senate by special election.
  10. ^ Denied seat due to a contested election that involved William L. McMillen.

See also[edit]

Federal government[edit]

State and local government[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Weigel, David (January 30, 2013). "For the First Time Ever, We'll Have Two Black Senators Serving at the Same Time". Slate Magazine. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Obama, Barack, (1961 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  3. ^ a b c "Burris, Roland, (1937 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Walshe, Shushannah (January 30, 2013). "Cory Booker Wins Race for US Senate Seat in New Jersey". ABC News. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Senators of the United States: 1789-present". Senate Historical Office. February 11, 2014. p. 90. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "Ethnic Diversity in the Senate". Senate Historical Office. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Desjardins, Lisa (April 4, 2012). "No African-American senators likely in near future". CNN.com. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Terkel, Amanda (September 27, 2012). "Senate Likely To Remain Without Black Members For Years". Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Revels, Hiram Rhodes, (1827 - 1901)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
  10. ^ "First African American Senator". Historical Minutes Essays, 1878-1920. The Senate Historical Office, The United States Senate. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Bruce, Blanche Kelso, (1841 - 1898)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
  12. ^ a b "Former Slave Presides over Senate". Historical Minutes Essays, 1878-1920. Senate Historical Office, The United States Senate. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Brooke, Edward William, III, (1919 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
  14. ^ a b "Mosley Braun, Carol, (1947 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Carol Moseley Braun". Art & History Home. Senate Historical Office, The United States Senate. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Barack Obama". Art & History Home. Senate Historical Office, The United States Senate. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  17. ^ Blake, Aaron; Cillizza, Chris (December 17, 2012). "Nikki Haley appoints Rep. Tim Scott to Senate". Washington Post. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  18. ^ Phillips, Frank (January 30, 2013). "William ‘Mo’ Cowan is Governor Deval Patrick’s pick to serve as interim US senator". Boston Globe. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  19. ^ Giambusso, David (October 23, 2013). "Cory Booker planning to be sworn in to Senate on Halloween". The Star-Ledger (New Jersey On-Line). Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  20. ^ Office of the Historian. "'Crafting an Identity,' Fifteenth Amendment in Flesh and Blood". Black Americans in Congress. Office of the Clerk, House of Representatives of the United States. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]