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Practical Politics

African Americans in the U.S. Congress; A quick glance

David L. Horne, PH.D. | 4/20/2017, midnight

In 2017, in the 115th Congress, counting the recent election of South Carolina’s Tim Scott, there are 50 African Americans collectively serving in the House and U.S. Senate.

Starting in 1870 during Reconstruction, to date there have been 140 African American members of Congress, including 130 members of the House of Representatives, and 10 U.S. Senators, six of whom were elected. Of that number, there have been 106 Democrats, including 101 in the House and six in the Senate; and 30 Republicans, including 26 in the House and four in the U.S. Senate. Those 140 members have represented 27 states. (See Figure 1-A)

During Reconstruction, there were 15 African Americans, all Republicans, elected to Congress, with Hiram Revels being recorded as the first African American elected to Congress. (See Figure 2-A) The last African American elected during that time period was out of office by 1901, and there was not another African American elected until 28 years later (Oscar DePriest, Illinois). Since then (1929), there has been a steady Black American presence in Congress (all in the House until 1967). The last Reconstruction Senator Blanche K. Bruce, from Mississippi, was out of office in 1881, and there was not another African American elected to the Senate for nearly 100 years, until Edward Brooke of Massachusetts was elected to two full Senate terms starting in 1967. Since then, there have been seven more African Americans elected to the U.S. Senate, the last tthree being Corey Booker from New Jersey, Tim Scott from South Carolina and Kamala Harris from California. Senator Scott is the first Black American Senator from the South since Reconstruction, and Senator Harris is only the second African American woman elected to the Senate. Arthur Mitchell, representing Illinois, was the first African American Democrat elected to the House of Representatives, and was so elected in 1935 and served until 1943.

It’s been a long road, but as of this date in 2017, there are 48 African American members of the House, and two U.S. Senators, all of whom are members of the Congressional Black Caucus (except Senator Scott).

STATES WHICH HAVE ELECTED AFRICAN AMERICAN CONGRESSMEN

Alabama (6) California (13) Connecticut (1)

Florida (7) Georgia (8) Illinois (17-3 Senators)

Indiana (3) Louisiana (4) Maryland (5)

Massachusetts (1) Michigan (6) Minnesota (1)

Mississippi (5) Missouri (4) New Jersey (3)

New York (9) North Carolina (8) Ohio (3)

Oklahoma (1) Pennsylvania (4) South Carolina (10) Tennessee (2) Texas (6) Virginia (2) Wisconsin (1)

Figure 1-A

African American congressmen during and just after reconstruction


NAME | STATE REPRESENTED | POSITION | YEARS IN OFFICE

Blanche K. Bruce | Mississippi Senator 1875-1881

Richard Cain | South Carolina H.R. 1873-1875, 77-79

Henry Cheatham North Carolina H.R. 1889-1893

Robert Delarge South Carolina H.R. 1871-1873

Robert Elliot South Carolina H.R. 1871-1874

Jeremiah Haralson Alabama H.R. 1875-1877

John Hyman North Carolina H.R. 1875-1877

Jefferson Long Georgia H.R. 1871-1873

John M. Langston Virginia H.R. 1890-1891

John Lynch Mississippi H.R. 1873-77, 1882-83

Thomas E. Miller South Carolina H.R. 1889-1891

George Murray South Carolina H.R. 1893-1897

Charles Nash Louisiana H.R. 1875-1877

James O’hara North Carolina H.R. 1883-1887

Hiram Revels Mississippi Senator 1870-71

Joseph Rainey South Carolina H.R. 1870-1879

Alonzo Ransier South Carolina H.R. 1873-1875

James Rapier Alabama H.R. 1873-1875

Robert Smalls South Carolina H.R. 1875-79, 1882-87

Benjamin Turner Alabama H.R. 1871-1873

Josiah Walls Florida H.R. 1871-1876


George White North Carolina H.R. 1897-1901

Figure 2-A