For the past six years or so, each year when I am on the radio in February, I have done a segment in recognition of Black History Month that I call “Republican Black History Firsts”. I plan to do the segment when I fill in for Rick Jensen this week on WDEL 1150 AM. I will be there from 1-4 on Tuesday and Thursday 2/17 & 2/19. For those who might miss that, here are my notes:
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 1875-1881 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.
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.
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 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.