Breaking barriers

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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

Barack ObamaAmerican Blacks in Politics and Law – Timeline

1860s

  • 1861 – Civil War begins.
  • 1863 – President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing most slaves.
  • 1865 – J.S. Rock Lawyer admitted to practice before U.S. Supreme Court
  • 1865 – Rev. Henry Highland Garnet Give a speech in the U.S. Capitol

Hiram R. Revels, Joseph Rainey, Jefferson F. Long

1870s

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

1910s

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

1920s

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

1940s

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

1950s

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

Edward Brooke,Carl Stokes, Shirley Chisholm, Thurgood Marshall,

1960s

  • 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

1970s

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

1980s

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

1990s

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

Carol Moseley Braun, Donna Brazile, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell

2000s

  • 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
PHOTOS COURTESY OF: TNS, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

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