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An Introduction

Since 1870, when Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi and Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina became the first African Americans to serve in Congress, a total of 125 African Americans have served as U.S. Representatives or Senators. This Web site, based on the book Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007, contains biographical profiles of former African-American Members of Congress, links to information about current black Members, essays on institutional and national events that shaped successive generations of African Americans in Congress, and images of each individual Member, supplemented by other historical photos. Read the Introduction…

John Mercer Langston of Virginia John Mercer Langston of Virginia Detail, From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capitol (Hartford, CT: American Publishing Company, 1894)

Featured Member

Featured Member

Harold Ford, Jr.

Learn about a featured African-American Member of Congress in this week’s highlighted profile.

Historical Essays

Historical Essays

Read essays that provide historical context about four distinct generations of African Americans in Congress. Among the topics discussed in each essay are institutional developments, legislative agendas, social changes, and national historical events that have shaped the experiences of black Members of Congress since Reconstruction.

Member Profiles

Member Profiles

Read biographical profiles of individual former African-American, Representatives, Delegates, and Senators that focus on their congressional careers. These profiles also contain information for further reading and references to individual Members’ manuscript collections. 

Educational Resources

Educational Resources

This page features materials designed to help teachers and students use the information presented in Black Americans in Congress in their classrooms. It includes lesson plans as well as activities on photographs, objects, and memorable quotations. An interactive map and a list of online educational resources also are included.

Artifacts

Artifacts

View an array of historical artifacts from the House Collection related to the history of Black Americans in Congress. Items include political campaign buttons, magazine cards, campaign literature, and historic images.

Historical Data

Historical Data

In this section, users can find tables and appendices of historical data about Black Americans in Congress, including: African Americans in Congress by Congress; committee and subcommittee leaders; party leadership positions; chairmen and chairwomen of the Congressional Black Caucus; and summaries of civil rights legislation referenced on the Web site.