List of African-American United States Senators
The United States Senate has had nine African-American elected or appointed office holders. 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 in 1870 of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 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, five were popularly elected (including one that previously had been appointed by his state's governor), two were elected by the state legislature prior to the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913 (which provides for the direct election of U.S. Senators by the people of each state), and two were appointed by a state Governor. The 113th United States Congress (2013–15) marked the first time that two African Americans served concurrently in the Senate.
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 legislature 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, but the majority of Senators voted to seat him. The Mississippi state legislature elected Blanche Bruce in 1875, but Republicans lost power of the Mississippi state legislature in 1876. Bruce was not elected to a second term in 1881. In 1890 the Democratic-dominated state legislature passed a new constitution disfranchising most black voters. Every other Southern state also passed disfranchising constitutions by 1908, excluding African Americans from the political system in the entire former Confederacy. This situation persisted into the 1960s until after federal enforcement of constitutional rights under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
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 in 1913 of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, rather than to be elected by a state legislature. 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. Carol Moseley Braun is the first (and, to date, only) African-American woman to be elected - or appointed - to the Senate after the ratification in 1920 of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 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 to the office of President of the United States. Roland Burris, also an African American, was appointed to fill the remainder of the Senate term of President-elect Obama.
The next two African-American Senators, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Mo Cowan of Massachusetts, were both appointed by governors to fill the terms of Jim DeMint and John Kerry, respectively, who had resigned their positions. 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. 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. Senator Tim Scott, an appointee, retained his seat in a general election as Senator of South Carolina in the 2014 elections.
As of April 2015[update], there have been 1,963 members of the United States Senate, but only nine have been African American. While 58 nationwide organizations exist to elect women to the United States Congress, including EMILY's List and the Susan B. Anthony List, no organization has been formed to elect African Americans to the United States Congress. The profile of African-American candidates has arguably grown as a result of recent nationally-televised elections in the United States.
List of African-American Senators of the United States
|Senator||State||Took office||Left office||Party||Congress||Ref.||Note|
||Hiram Rhodes Revels
|Mississippi||February 23, 1870||March 3, 1871||Republican||41st
||Blanche Kelso Bruce
|Mississippi||March 4, 1875||March 3, 1881||Republican||44th
||Edward William Brooke, III
|Massachusetts||January 3, 1967||January 3, 1979||Republican||90th
||Carol Moseley Braun
|Illinois||January 3, 1993||January 3, 1999||Democratic||103rd
|Illinois||January 3, 2005||November 16, 2008||Democratic||109th
||Roland W. Burris
|Illinois||January 15, 2009||November 29, 2010||Democratic||111th
|South Carolina||January 2, 2013||Incumbent||Republican||112th
|Massachusetts||February 1, 2013||July 16, 2013||Democratic||113th
|New Jersey||October 31, 2013||Incumbent||Democratic||113th
African Americans elected to the U.S. Senate, but not seated
- Political Party
|Senator||State||Took office||Left office||Party||Congress||Ref.||Note|
||P. B. S. Pinchback
- 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.
- 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.
- Lost office during reelection. First African American elected to the Senate by direct election. First African American to serve in Congress from Massachusetts.
- Lost office during reelection. First African-American female and African-American Democrat to serve in the United States Senate.
- Resigned from office following election to the presidency of the United States. First African-American President of the United States.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Elected to fill vacancy caused by the death of Frank R. Lautenberg. First African American to be elected to the Senate by special election.
- Denied seat due to a contested election that involved William L. McMillen.
- African Americans in the United States Congress
- List of African-American United States Cabinet Secretaries
State and local government
- African-American officeholders in the United States, 1789-1866
- List of African-American U.S. state firsts
- List of first African-American mayors
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- "Mosley Braun, Carol, (1947 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
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- "Barack Obama". Art & History Home. Senate Historical Office, The United States Senate. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
- "Scott, Tim, (1965 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
- Blake, Aaron; Cillizza, Chris (December 17, 2012). "Nikki Haley appoints Rep. Tim Scott to Senate". Washington Post. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- "Cowan, William (Mo), (1969 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
- 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.
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- Clay, William L. Just Permanent Interests: Black Americans in Congress, 1870–1991. Amistad Press, 1992. ISBN 1-56743-000-7
- Dray, Philip. Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen. Houghton Mifflin Co, 2008. ISBN 978-0-618-56370-8
- Foner, Eric. Freedom's Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders during Reconstruction. 1996. Revised. ISBN 0-8071-2082-0
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- Gill, LaVerne McCain. African American Women in Congress: Forming and Transforming History. Rutgers University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8135-2353-2
- Hahn, Steven. A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South From Slavery to the Great Migration. 2003. ISBN 0-674-01169-4
- Haskins, James. Distinguished African American Political and Governmental Leaders. Phoenix, Arizona: Oryx Press, 1999. ISBN 1-57356-126-6
- Middleton, Stephen. Black Congressmen During Reconstruction : A Documentary Sourcebook. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002. ISBN 0-313-06512-8
- Rabinowitz, Howard N. Southern Black Leaders of the Reconstruction Era. University of Illinois Press, 1982. ISBN 0-252-00929-0
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- Wasniewski, Matthew as editor. Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 2008. ISBN 978-0-16-080194-5. The website, Black Americans in Congress maintained by the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, serves as an ongoing supplement to the book. To download a free copy of the entire publication or a specific portion of the publication, see H. Doc. 108-224 - Black Americans in Congress 1870 - 2007. Made available by the United States Government Printing Office (GPO).
- African American Members of the United States Congress: 1870–2012 A 66 page history produced by the Congressional Research Service, a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress.
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 - Present Perform search of desired Representative or Delegate by last name, first name, position, state, party, by year or congress.
- Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007 A C-SPAN video with Matt Wasniewski, historian of the United States House of Representatives, as the presenter. He discusses the history of African Americans in Congress from 1870 to 2007. The video is 164 minutes in length.
- Black Americans in Congress Maintained by the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The website serves as an ongoing supplement to the book, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007.
- Major African American Office Holders Since 1641 Includes a listing for the United States Senate. Maintained by Blackpast.org.