It has been a few years since I remembered to post this. I did this piece for about six years during Black History Month when I did some fill ins on the radio. Since I am not doing that anymore and as we are coming to the end of Black History Month, I wanted to take the opportunity to put it up here for anyone who is interested.
REPUBLICAN BLACK HISTORY FIRSTS
- First black US Senator: Hiram Revels 1870-1871, Republican-Mississippi. Appointed to serve out the unexpired term of Jefferson Davis (former President of the Confederacy) after the Civil War (ironic isn’t it).
- First black US Congressman: Joseph Rainey 1870-1879, Republican-South Carolina.Just 2 years after 14th Amendment made it possible.
- First black US Senator to serve full term: Blanche Bruce 1875-1881, Republican-Mississippi. Elected by the Mississippi legislature (Senators were not elected by popular vote until the 17th amendment in 1913)
- First black US Senator elected by popular vote: Edward Brooke 1967-1979, Republican-Massachusetts.Yes, the Barbara Walters “affair” Edward Brooke.Probably more scandalous that he was a Republican than that he was married.
- First black US Congressman from the North and in 20th century: Oscar Depriest 1928 , Republican-Illinois.
- First black Governor: Pinckney Pinchback 1872 , Republican-Louisiana. Now, he was not elected Governor, he was elected as a state senator and became acting Lieutenant Governor upon the death of the first black Lieutenant Governor Oscar Dunn, Republican-Louisiana and became governor for 35 days after the elected governor was impeached.
One would assume that the Democrat Party would not be far behind, right? One would be wrong!
The black community would have to wait until 1934 for the Democrats to elect their first black Congressman, Arthur Mitchell, Illinois; the Democrats ran him against Republican Oscar Depriest listed previously. Not bad just 64 years.
And I had trouble believing that they would have to wait until 1992 for the first black Democrat to be elected to the Senate, Carole Mosely Braun.Just 122 years.
Let us not forget the first black US Secretary of State, Colin Powell appointed by George W. Bush.
There is no question that the Democrats do have a more recent first, but this is about Republican firsts!
A few more firsts:
First black Delaware legislator: William Winchester, Republican State Representative elected in 1947. Yes, the bridge in Wilmington is named after a Republican. Don’t spread it around, the city politicians will want it changed if they find out.
First black person to chair a congressional committee: Republican Senator, Blanche Bruce in approximately 1880.
First black person to deliver the Keynote address at a national political convention: John Lynch, Republican Convention of 1884. He was also the first black chairman of a convention. The first black keynoter at a Democratic National Convention was Barbara Jordan in 1976 just 92 years later.
I think that the National Republican Party could do a much better job of publicizing these facts each year during Black History Month.I was not there, but I heard that last year (2008) there was a presentation that covered this research and more presented at a Delaware Republican Party event.A series of TV or radio spots fleshing out the history of these men would be interesting.