February 25, 2011

First Black U.S. Senator – 1870

Hiram Rhodes Revels became the first black person to serve in the U.S. Congress, representing Mississippi for two years during Reconstruction.

You may wonder why he served only two years, when Senate seats are held for six years. Well, Revels was sworn in to serve out the unexpired term of Jefferson Davis, who had quit the Senate when Mississippi and other Southern states broke away from the U.S. Davis ended up being the president of the so-called Confederate States of America.

Amazing, but true...

To this day, only five other African Americans, besides for Revels, have ever served in the U.S. Senate! Can you name any of them?*

T-shirt Design
We are all Africans...

The concept of different races is not a scientific idea. People of “different races” are more similar than they are different; or rather, the differences between individuals are way more important and numerous than are any differences between so-called races.

And since all of humanity began in Africa, a slogan sometimes seen today, “We are all Africans,” certainly has some truth.

Why do I bring this up as I discuss Revels? Well, his father was “mixed race” (black and white), and his mother was white. But because Revels was part black, he was considered black—not unlike our current president!

By the way, Revels was never a slave. He was born free in North Carolina, and he became a minister who went to seminary and college. He preached in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, and Maryland, and he helped set up schools for black children. He was a chaplain in the Union army and helped raise two black regiments during the Civil War, and he took part in the battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi.

* The other five black U.S. Senators were:

Blanche Bruce – R – Mississippi 1875-1881 (former slave)
Edward Brooke III – R – Massachusetts 1987-1979
Carol Braun – D – Illinois 1993-1999
Barack Obama – D – Illinois 2005-2008
Roland Burris – D – Illinois 2009-2010

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