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List of African-American United States senators

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 later became the first African-American president of the U.S.
  States currently represented by an African-American Senator
  States formerly represented by an African-American Senator

The United States Senate has had ten African-American elected or appointed office holders.[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. The U.S. Census Bureau defines African Americans as citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa.[2] The term is generally used for Americans with at least partial ancestry in any of the original peoples of sub-Saharan Africa. During the founding of the federal government, African Americans were consigned to a status of second-class citizenship or enslaved.[3] No African American served in federal elective office before the ratification in 1870 of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the federal 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 ten senators, six 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.[4]

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 Democratic members of the United States Senate opposed his being seated based on the court case Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) 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.[1] 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.[1] 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 black 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.[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 2005, respectively.[1] Carol Moseley Braun is the first 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.[5] Roland Burris, also an African American, was appointed to fill the remainder of the Senate term of President-elect Obama.[6]

The next two black 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.[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.[7] 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, later securing a full 6-year term in the 2014 mid-term elections. Senator Tim Scott retained his seat in a special election in 2014, also securing a full 6-year term in 2016. On January 3, 2017, senators Scott and Booker were joined in the Senate by Kamala Harris of California, who was elected on November 8, 2016.[8] Senator Harris is the second African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. As of September 5, 2018, there have been 1,974 members of the United States Senate,[9] but only ten have been African American.[10][11]

List of African-American U.S. senatorsEdit

Political parties

  Democratic   Republican

Senator State Took office Left office Party Congress Ref. Note
Hiram Rhodes Revels
(1827–1901)
Mississippi February 25, 1870 March 3, 1871 Republican 41st
(1869–1871)
[12][13] [note 1]
Blanche Bruce
(1841–1898)
Mississippi March 4, 1875 March 3, 1881 Republican 44th
(1875–1877)
[14][15] [note 2]
45th
(1877–1879)
46th
(1879–1881)
Edward Brooke
(1919–2015)
Massachusetts January 3, 1967 January 3, 1979 Republican 90th
(1967–1969)
[16] [note 3]
91st
(1969–1971)
92nd
(1971–1973)
93rd
(1973–1975)
94th
(1975–1977)
95th
(1977–1979)
Carol Moseley Braun
(born 1947)
Illinois January 3, 1993 January 3, 1995 Democratic 103rd
(1993–1995)
[17][18] [note 4]
January, 1995 January, 1997 104th
(1995–1997)
January, 1997 January, 1999 105th
(1997–1999)
Barack Obama
(born 1961)
Illinois January 3, 2005 November 16, 2008 Democratic 109th
(2005–2007)
[5][19] [note 5]
110th
(2007–2009)
Roland Burris
(born 1937)
Illinois January 15, 2009 November 29, 2010 Democratic 111th
(2009–2011)
[6] [note 6]
Tim Scott
(born 1965)
South Carolina January 2, 2013 Incumbent Republican 112th
(2011–2013)
[20][21] [note 7]
113th
(2013–2015)
114th
(2015–2017)
115th
(2017–2019)
116th
(2019–2021)
Mo Cowan
(born 1969)
Massachusetts February 1, 2013 July 16, 2013 Democratic 113th
(2013–2015)
[22][23] [note 8]
Cory Booker
(born 1969)
New Jersey October 31, 2013 Incumbent Democratic 113th
(2013–2015)
[7][24][25] [note 9]
114th
(2015–2017)
115th
(2017–2019)
116th
(2019–2021)
Kamala Harris
(born 1964)
California January 3, 2017 Incumbent Democratic 115th
(2017–2019)
[8][26][27] [note 11]
116th
(2019–2021)

African Americans elected to the United States Senate, but not seatedEdit

Political party

  Republican

Senator–elect State Took office Left office Party Congress Ref. Note
P. B. S. Pinchback
(1837–1921)
Louisiana Elected in 1873, but denied seat Republican 44th
(1875–1877)
[30] [note 12]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Retired from office. Elected to complete an unfinished term after Mississippi was readmitted into the Union on February 23, 1870. First African American to serve in the United States Senate and Congress. First African American to serve in Congress from Mississippi.[12]
  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.[15]
  3. ^ Lost office during reelection. First African American elected to the Senate by direct election. First African American to serve in Congress from Massachusetts.[16]
  4. ^ Lost office during reelection. First African-American female and African-American Democrat to serve in the United States Senate.[17]
  5. ^ Resigned from office following election to the presidency of the United States. First African-American President of the United States.[5]
  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.[6]
  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 Lautenberg. First African American to be elected to the Senate by special election.
  10. ^ Harris is the child of a Caribbean-born father and India-born mother.[28] Other African Americans who were elected to Congress and were born in the Caribbean or to Caribbean-born parents include Rep. Shirley Chisholm, Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, Del. Stacey Plaskett, Rep. Mia Love, Del. Melvin H. Evans, Del. Donna Christian-Christensen, and Del. Victor O. Frazer. Shirley Chisholm is the child of Caribbean-born parents and is the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress.[29]
  11. ^ First African American to serve in the Senate from California.[8][note 10]
  12. ^ Denied seat due to a contested election that involved William L. McMillen.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Black Population: 2010" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 31, 2019. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  2. ^ "Time Line of African American History, 1881-1900". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on January 17, 1999. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
  3. ^ Weigel, David (January 30, 2013). "For the First Time Ever, We'll Have Two Black Senators Serving at the Same Time". Slate Magazine. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c "Obama, Barack, (1961–)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Archived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c "Burris, Roland, (1937–)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Walshe, Shushannah (January 30, 2013). "Cory Booker Wins Race for US Senate Seat in New Jersey". ABC News. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Willon, Phil (November 9, 2016). "Kamala Harris is Elected California's New U.S. senator". LA Times. Archived from the original on November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  8. ^ "Senators of the United States: 1789-present" (PDF). Senate Historical Office. September 5, 2018. p. 82. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 December 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Ethnic Diversity in the Senate". Senate Historical Office. Archived from the original on 5 September 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  10. ^ Desjardins, Lisa (April 4, 2012). "No African-American senators likely in near future". CNN.com. Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Revels, Hiram Rhodes, (1827–1901)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Archived from the original on January 24, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  12. ^ "First African American Senator". Historical Minutes Essays, 1878–1920. Senate Historical Office. Archived from the original on December 17, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  13. ^ "Bruce, Blanche Kelso, (1841 - 1898)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  14. ^ a b "Former Slave Presides over Senate". Historical Minutes Essays, 1878–1920. Senate Historical Office. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Brooke, Edward William, III, (1919–)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Archived from the original on November 2, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  16. ^ a b "Moseley Braun, Carol, (1947–)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  17. ^ "Carol Moseley Braun". Senate Historical Office. Archived from the original on December 17, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  18. ^ "Barack Obama". Senate Historical Office. Archived from the original on December 18, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  19. ^ "Scott, Tim, (1965–)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  20. ^ Blake, Aaron; Cillizza, Chris (December 17, 2012). "Nikki Haley appoints Rep. Tim Scott to Senate". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 7, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
  21. ^ "Cowan, William (Mo), (1969–)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Archived from the original on December 6, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  22. ^ Phillips, Frank (January 30, 2013). "William 'Mo' Cowan is Governor Deval Patrick's pick to serve as interim US senator". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  23. ^ "Booker, Cory Anthony, (1969–)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Archived from the original on November 26, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  24. ^ Giambusso, David (October 23, 2013). "Cory Booker planning to be sworn in to Senate on Halloween". The Star-Ledger. NJ.com. Archived from the original on October 26, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  25. ^ "Harris, Kamala Devi, (1964 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Archived from the original on January 6, 2017. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
  26. ^ Sources for label "African American" or "black" include:
  27. ^ Wire, Sarah D. (November 8, 2016). "Kamala Harris Will Be the First Indian American U.S. senator and California's First Black Senator". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2 July 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018. Harris’ mother, Dr. Shyamala Harris, emigrated from India. Her father, Donald Harris, emigrated from Jamaica.
  28. ^ Wasniewski, Matthew, ed. (2008). "Shirley A. Chisholm 1924 — 2005". Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007. United States Government Printing Office. p. 340. ISBN 9780160801945. Archived from the original on 2016-05-22. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
  29. ^ Office of the Historian. "'Crafting an Identity,' Fifteenth Amendment in Flesh and Blood". Office of the Clerk, House of Representatives of the United States. Archived from the original on November 11, 2013. Retrieved August 7, 2013.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit