November Firsts: African-Americans Who Broke Barriers in Politics

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  • George L. Brown elected first Black lieutenant governor of Colorado
  • L. Douglas Wilder elected the first elected Black governor of Virginia,
  • Edward William Brooke III elected the first African-American from Massachusetts
  • Julia May Carson elected Indiana's first Black congresswoman
  • Yvonne Brathwaite Burke was first Black female from California elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Charles Coles Diggs Jr. elected Michigan's first Black congressman
  • Roland Burris elected Illinois' first Black comptroller
  • Barack Obama elected first Black president of the United States
  • Shirley Chisholm becomes the first Black woman elected to Congress
  • Colin Powell named White House National Security Adviser
  • Condoleezza Rice nominated to U.S. Department of State
  • Carol Moseley-Braun elected first Black female U.S. Senator
  • Louis Stokes elected first African-American elected congressman of Ohio
  • Mervyn M. Dymally elected first Black person to hold statewide office
  • Eva M. Clayton elected North Carolina's first Black congresswoman

Edward William Brooke III

Elected in 1966, Edward William Brooke III was the first African-American from Massachusetts to serve in the U.S. Senate and the first Black senator elected since the Reconstruction Era. A moderate Republican, he adopted a liberal stance on social issues, notably defending the implementation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and fighting for the designation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a national holiday. 

(Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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