This Day in Black History: Dec. 30, 1842

Josiah T. Walls, Florida's first African-American Congress member, was born.

Posted: 12/30/2012 08:00 AM EST
Josiah T. Walls

(Photo: Public Domain)

On Dec. 30, 1842, Josiah T. Walls, Florida’s first African-American member of Congress, was born in Winchester, Virginia.

Before being elected to Congress, Walls worked as an orange farmer, served as a soldier in the Civil War and worked as a teacher for the Freedmen’s Bureau after the abolition of slavery.

Walls was elected as the Florida representative to the 42nd Congress in 1871. He went on to serve three separate terms from 1871 to 1876. He is best known for his efforts in assisting Cubans and African-Americans. Walls also supported the formation of a National Educational Fund, which would help African-Americans gain access to equal education.

In 1896, Walls left politics and became the farm director at Florida A&M University.

He died in 1905.

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