There Have Been 10 Black Senators Since Emancipation

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
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Even though 13 percent of Americans are Black, there have only been 10 Black senators who have served in U.S. politics since emancipation. Sen. Kamala Harris D-Calif., accompanied by Sen. Cory Booker D-N.J., questions Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Washington. Image: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Of the nearly 2,000 American men and women that have served in the Senate, only 10 have been Black, a number that offers a stark reminder of the almost insurmountable barriers that have kept African Americans from the highest office in the free world.

Black people represent about 13 percent of the U.S. population.

No African American served in federal elective office before the ratification in 1791 of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. constitution. The amendment prohibited 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.

Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first Black American to serve as a nominated senator, amid opposition from the whites, in Mississippi State after Albert G. Brown resigned during the Civil War.

Edward Brooke was the first Black person to be elected by popular vote as the senator of Massachusetts in 1967 following the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment.

Carol Moseley Braun broke new ground in 1993 when she became the first African American woman to serve as a U.S. senator.

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Since then, more African Americans have been elected to the position including Barack Obama in Illinois in 2005. Obama went on to become the first Black U.S. president.

There are currently three serving Black senators including Cory Booker in New Jersey, Kamala Harris in California, and William “Mo” Cowan in Massachusetts.