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:
- 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
- 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.)
- 1911: William Henry Lewis Appointed to a sub-Cabinet post
- 1926: Violette N. Anderson Female lawyer admitted to practice before U.S. Supreme Court
- 1944: Harry S. McAlpin Reporter to attend White House press conference
- 1955: E. Frederic Morrow Hold an executive position on a president’s staff
- 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
- 1977: Patricia Harris Female Cabinet secretary (HUD*)
- 1977: Clifford Alexander Jr. Secretary of the Army
- 1989: L. Douglas Wilder Elected governor of a state (Va.)
- 1989: Colin Powell Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
- 1992: Carol Moseley Braun Female U.S. senator (Ill.)
- 2000: Donna Brazile Manager of a presidential campaign
- 2001: Condoleezza Rice National security advisor Colin Powell Secretary of State
- 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)