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(part 2)

Congresswoman Barbara Jordan


Congressman J.C. Watts


The first Black to serve a full term as a U.S. senator was Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi, who entered Congress on March 5, 1875.

The first Black elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote was Edward W. Brooke (Republican, Mass.), who won the general election on November 8 1966.

The first Black in the House of Representatives was Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina, who was seated on December 12, 1870.

The first Black congressman from the North and the first Black congressman in the modern era was Oscar DePriest, who was elected to the 71st Congress from Illinois' First Congressional District (Chicago) in November, 1928.  He was sworn in on April 15, 1929. 

The first Black Democrat elected to Congress was Authur Mitchell, who defeated DePriest on November 7, 1934.

The youngest Black congressman was John R. Lynch of Mississippi, who was elected to the House in 1873 at the age of 26.

The first Black to head a congressional committee was Blanche K. Bruce, who was made chairman of a select committee on Mississippi River levees in the Forty-fifth Congress (1877-79).

The first Black to head a standing committee of Congress was Rep. William L. Dawson of Chicago, who was named chairman of the House Expenditures Committee on January 18, 1949.  Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was named chairman of the powerful House Education and Labor Committee in 1961.

The first Black to preside over a national political convention was John R. Lynch, who was elected temporary chairman of the Republican convention in June, 1884.

The first Black keynoter of a national political convention was Republican Congressman John Roy Lynch, speaking to the Republican National Convention in 1884.  On the first day of that convention, he was also elected as a National Convention Chairman.  In addition, he served as the Chairman of the Mississippi Republican National Committee for most of the 1880s and was a delegate to 5 successive Republican National Conventions. 

The first Black to be a keynoter at a Democratic National
was Barbara Jordan in 1976.  This was significant because of where she was making the address; that is, at
the National Convention for the Democratic Party, which had for the first century and a half of its existence been the party first of slavery, then black codes and then Jim Crow segregation.

The first Black nominated for president at a major national convention was Rev. Channing E. Phillips of Washington, D.C., who was a favorite-son candidate of the District of Columbia and received 67 1/2 votes on the first ballot (August 28, 1968).

Political Firsts Continued...

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