America’s Black Senators
WHO PRECEDED TIM SCOTT?
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s selection of Tim Scott to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jim DeMint made history. With Haley’s appointment, Scott becomes the first black U.S. Senator in South Carolina history – and only the seventh black Senator in the history of our nation.
Scott also becomes the odds-on favorite to win a special election for this seat in 2014 – in which case he would become the first African-American ever elected to the U.S. Senate from the South (and only the fourth popularly elected African-American Senator in U.S. history).
Courtesy of the U.S. Senate, here are the six Senators who preceded Scott …
Hiram Revels of Mississippi became the first African American senator in 1870. Born in North Carolina in 1827, Revels attended Knox College in Illinois and later served as minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland. He raised two black regiments during the Civil War and fought at the battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi. The Mississippi state legislature sent him to the U.S. Senate during Reconstruction where he became an outspoken opponent of racial segregation. Although Revels served in the Senate for just a year, he broke new ground for African Americans in Congress. (Photo: Library of Congress)
BLANCHE K. BRUCE
Born into slavery in 1841, Blanche K. Bruce spent his childhood years in Virginia where he received his earliest education from the tutor hired to teach his master’s son. At the dawn of the Civil War, Bruce escaped slavery and traveled north to begin a distinguished career in education and politics. Elected to the Senate in 1874 by the Mississippi state legislature, he served from 1875 to 1881. In 2002, the Senate commissioned a new portrait of Bruce, now on display in the U.S. Capitol. (Photo: Library of Congress)
The first African American elected to the Senate by popular vote, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts served two full terms, from 1967 to 1979. Born in Washington, D.C. in 1919, Brooke graduated from Howard University before serving in the United States Army during World War II. After the war, he received a law degree from Boston University. During his Senate career he championed the causes of low-income housing and an increased minimum wage, and promoted commuter rail and mass transit systems. He also worked tirelessly to promote racial equality in the South. (Photo: Senate Historical Office)
Some called 1992 the “Year of the Woman.” More women than ever before were elected to political office in November of that year, and five of them came to the U.S. Senate. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois not only joined that class on January 3, 1993, but also became the first African American woman ever to serve as U.S. Senator. During her Senate career, Moseley Braun sponsored progressive education bills and campaigned for gun control. Moseley Braun left the Senate in January of 1999, and soon after became the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand, a position she held until 2001. Moseley Braun ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. (Photo: Senate Historical Office)
Elected to the United States Senate in November of 2004, he took the oath of office and became the fifth African American to serve in the Senate on January 3, 2005. On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States.
Born in Centralia, Illinois, on August 3, 1937, Roland Burris earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a Juris Doctor degree from Howard University. After finishing law school in 1963, Burris became the first African American to work as a national bank examiner for the Treasury Department. When Burris was elected comptroller of Illinois in 1978, he was the first African American to win a statewide election in Illinois. After serving more than ten years as comptroller, he became attorney general of Illinois. Appointed to the Senate on December 31, 2008, Burris filled the vacancy caused by the resignation of Barack Obama.