Breaking Barriers

Barack Obama was the first African-American president of the United States. Here’s a look at other firsts for American Blacks in politics and law:

Supreme Court

1860

  • 1865: Rev. Henry Highland Garnet Give a speech in the U.S. Capitol
  • 1865: J.S. Rock Lawyer admitted to practice before U.S. Supreme Court

1870

  • 1871: Jefferson F. Long Speak in House of Representatives as congressman (Ga.)
  • 1872: Charlotte Ray Female lawyer allowed to practice in Washington, D.C.
  • 1870: Hiram R. Revels U.S. senator (Miss.) Joseph Rainey U.S. Rep. (S.C.)

1910

  • 1911: William Henry Lewis Appointed to a sub-Cabinet post

1920

  • 1926: Violette N. Anderson Female lawyer admitted to practice before U.S. Supreme Court

1940

  • 1944: Harry S. McAlpin Reporter to attend White House press conference

1950

  • 1955: E. Frederic Morrow Hold an executive position on a president’s staff

1960

  • 1960: Andrew Hatcher Assistant presidential press secretary
  • 1966: Edward Brooke U.S. senator (first since Reconstruction) (Mass.)
  • 1966: Robert C. Weaver Cabinet secretary (Housing and Urban Development)
  • 1967: Carl Stokes Mayor of a large city (Cleveland)
  • 1968: Shirley Chisholm Female U.S. representative
  • 1967: Thurgood Marshall U.S. Supreme Court Justice

1970

  • 1977: Patricia Harris Female Cabinet secretary (HUD*)
  • 1977: Clifford Alexander Jr. Secretary of the Army

1980

  • 1989: L. Douglas Wilder Elected governor of a state (Va.)
  • 1989: Colin Powell Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

1990

  • 1992: Carol Moseley Braun Female U.S. senator (Ill.)

2000

  • 2000: Donna Brazile Manager of a presidential campaign
  • 2001: Condoleezza Rice National security advisor Colin Powell Secretary of State

EVENTS

  • 1861: Civil War begins.
  • 1863: President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing most slaves.
  • 1865 to 1877: Reconstruction. Constitution amended three times to provide equal rights to Black Americans.
  • 1865: Civil War ends. The 13th Amendment ratified, outlawing slavery.
  • 1868: The 14th Amendment ratified, granting citizenship to any person born or naturalized in the United States.
  • 1870: The 15th Amendment ratified, guaranteeing Black Americans the right to vote.
  • 1896: Plessy vs. Ferguson. Supreme Court decides “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
  • 1954: Brown vs. Board of Education. Supreme Court finds segregated public schools unconstitutional.
  • 1964: Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin

Karsten Ivey, Sun Sentinel

(SOURCES: AFRICAN AMERICAN REGISTRY, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, INFOPLEASE.COM, BLACKPAST.ORG, TNS)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here