October 19, 1870 — Senator Hiram Revels (pictured right) of Mississippi, and Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina, are the first African Americans elected to US House of Representatives today.
Since then, a total of 140 African Americans have served as U.S. Representatives or Senators.
Hiram Revels (September 27, 1827[note 1] – January 16, 1901) was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). A Republican politician, and also a college administrator, he was born free in North Carolina, he later lived and worked in Ohio, where he voted before the Civil War.
He was elected as the first African American to serve in the United States Senate, and was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress. He represented Mississippi in the Senate in 1870 and 1871 during the Reconstruction era. After serving in the Senate, he was appointed as the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University), 1871-1873 and 1876 to 1882. Later he served again as a minister.
Words of Wisdom
“We [Black Americans] are earnest in our support of the Government. We are earnest in the house of the nation’s perils and dangers; and now, in our country’s comparative peace and tranquility, we are earnest for our rights.”