November Firsts: African-Americans Who Broke Barriers in Politics

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  • 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
  • George L. Brown elected first Black lieutenant governor of Colorado
  • L. Douglas Wilder elected the first elected Black governor of Virginia,

Roland Burris

Roland Burris was elected Illinois' first Black comptroller in 1978, the first Black person to hold statewide office there. In December 2008, he was named as President-Elect Barack Obama's successor in the U.S. Senate, notably supporting economic stimulus legislation and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, serving until 2010. 

(Photo: Jim Prisching/Getty Images)

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