The United States Senate has had eleven African-American elected or appointed office holders.The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral United States Congress, which is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau defines African Americans as citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa. The term is generally used for Americans with at least partial ancestry in any of the original peoples of sub-Saharan Africa. During the founding of the federal government, African Americans were consigned to a status of second-class citizenship or enslaved. No African American served in federal elective office before the ratification in 1870 of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, although some (including Alexander Twilight, as state senator in Vermont) served in state elective offices concurrently with slavery. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the federal and state governments from denying any citizen the right to vote because of that citizen's race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Of the ten senators, six were popularly elected (including one that previously had been appointed by his state's governor), two were elected by the state legislature prior to the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913 (which provides for the direct election of U.S. senators by the people of each state), and two were appointed by a state Governor. The 113th United States Congress (2013–15) marked the first time that two African Americans served concurrently in the Senate.
The first two African-American senators represented the state of Mississippi during the Reconstruction era, following the American Civil War. Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American to serve, was elected by the Mississippi State Legislature to succeed Albert G. Brown, who resigned during the Civil War. Some Democratic members of the United States Senate opposed his being seated based on the court case Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) by the Supreme Court of the United States, claiming that Revels did not meet the nine-year citizenship requirement, but the majority of senators voted to seat him.The Mississippi state legislature elected Blanche Bruce in 1875, but Republicans lost power of the Mississippi state legislature in 1876. Bruce was not elected to a second term in 1881. In 1890 the Democratic-dominated state legislature passed a new constitution disfranchising most black voters. Every other Southern state also passed disfranchising constitutions by 1908, excluding African Americans from the political system in the entire former Confederacy. This situation persisted into the 1960s until after federal enforcement of constitutional rights under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The next black United States senator, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, took office in 1967. He was the first African American to be elected by popular vote after the ratification in 1913 of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, rather than to be elected by a state legislature.The Seventeenth Amendment established direct election of United States senators by popular vote.
Carol Moseley Braun and Barack Obama were both elected by the voters of Illinois, entering the Senate in 1993 and 2005, respectively.Moseley Braun is the first African-American woman to be elected — or appointed — to the Senate after the ratification in 1920 of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Nineteenth Amendment prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. While serving in the Senate, Obama became the first African American to be elected to the office of president of the United States in 2008. Roland Burris, also an African American, was appointed to fill the remainder of Obama's Senate term.
After Obama's election, the next two black senators, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Mo Cowan of Massachusetts, were both appointed by governors to fill the terms of Jim DeMint and John Kerry, respectively, who had resigned their positions.Thus, 2013 marked the first time in history that more than one African American served in the Senate at the same time. On October 16, 2013, citizens of New Jersey elected Cory Booker in a special election to fill the seat of the late senator Frank R. Lautenberg. Sworn into office in 2013, he was the first African-American senator to be elected since Obama in 2004 and the first to represent the state of New Jersey, later securing a full six-year term in the 2014 mid-term elections. Senator Tim Scott retained his seat in a special election in 2014, also securing a full 6-year term in 2016. On January 3, 2017, senators Scott and Booker were joined in the Senate by Kamala Harris of California, who was elected on November 8, 2016. Senator Harris is the second African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. On November 3, 2020, Senator Harris was elected the first African-American vice president of the United States, and the first woman elected to the office. On January 5, 2021, Raphael Warnock of Georgia was elected as the first African-American Democrat to represent a former Confederate state in the U.S. Senate.
As of September 5, 2018, there have been 1,974 members of the United States Senate,but only ten have been African-American. Warnock will become the eleventh African-American senator when sworn into office.
Incumbent U.S. Senator
|Senator||State||Took office||Left office||Party||Congress||Ref.||Note|
| Hiram Rhodes Revels |
|Mississippi||February 25, 1870||March 3, 1871||Republican|| 41st |
| Blanche Bruce |
|Mississippi||March 4, 1875||March 3, 1881||Republican|| 44th |
| 45th |
| 46th |
| Edward Brooke |
|Massachusetts||January 3, 1967||January 3, 1979||Republican|| 90th |
| 91st |
| 92nd |
| 93rd |
| 94th |
| 95th |
| Carol Moseley Braun |
|Illinois||January 3, 1993||January 3, 1999||Democratic|| 103rd |
| 104th |
| 105th |
| Barack Obama |
|Illinois||January 3, 2005||November 16, 2008||Democratic|| 109th |
| 110th |
| Roland Burris |
|Illinois||January 15, 2009||November 29, 2010||Democratic|| 111th |
| Tim Scott |
|South Carolina||January 2, 2013||Incumbent||Republican|| 112th |
| 113th |
| 114th |
| 115th |
| 116th |
| 117th |
| Mo Cowan |
|Massachusetts||February 1, 2013||July 16, 2013||Democratic|| 113th |
| Cory Booker |
|New Jersey||October 31, 2013||Incumbent||Democratic|| 113th |
| 114th |
| 115th |
| 116th |
| 117th |
| Kamala Harris |
|California||January 3, 2017||Incumbent||Democratic|| 115th |
| 116th |
| 117th |
|Senator-elect||State||Expected term start||Party||Congress||Ref.||Note|
| Raphael Warnock |
|Georgia||At the latest|
January 23, 2021
|Democratic|| 117th |
|Elected on January 5, 2021|
|Senator–elect||State||Took office||Left office||Party||Congress||Ref.||Note|
| P. B. S. Pinchback |
|Louisiana||Elected in 1873, but denied seat||Republican|| 44th |
|March 4, 1789||0|
|February 25, 1870||1|
|March 4, 1871||0|
|March 4, 1875||1|
|March 4, 1881||0|
|January 3, 1967||1|
|January 4, 1979||0|
|January 3, 1993||1|
|January 4, 1999||0|
|January 3, 2005||1|
|November 17, 2008||0|
|January 15, 2009||1|
|November 30, 2010||0|
|January 2, 2013||1|
|February 1, 2013||2|
|July 17, 2013||1|
|October 31, 2013||2|
|January 3, 2017||3|
From the first United States Congress in 1789 through the 116th Congress in 2020, 162 African Americans have served in Congress. Meanwhile, the total number of all individuals who have served in Congress over history is 12,348. Of African Americans, 152 have served in the House of Representatives, 9 have served in the Senate, and 1 has served in both chambers. Voting members have totaled 156, with 6 serving as delegates. Party membership has been, 131 Democrats, and 31 Republicans. While 13 members founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971 during the 92nd Congress, in the 116th Congress (2019-2020), 56 have served, with 54 Democrats and 2 Republicans.
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