Publication Date

October 7, 2008


African American

Black Americans in Congress 1870-2007The House of Representatives’ Office of the Clerk recently created the web site Black Americans in Congress detailing the plight of African Americans in attaining full civil rights in the federal legislature. Beginning in 1870 with Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi and Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina, African American Congress members, as surrogate representatives for an entire population, have fought long and hard to overcome racial prejudice, marginalization, and exclusion in the federal legislature. The web site explores three major eras that encompass the transformation of African Americans in Congress: the pioneering era from 1870-1901, the apprenticeship era from 1929-70, and the mature integration era from 1971-2007. Readers can delve deeper into these monumental eras through historical essays, Congress member profiles, artifacts, historical data, and educational resources:

    1. Historical Essays include four pieces that are divided chronologically to hone in on infamous hurdles overcome and legendary ground covered by African Americans in the federal legislature.


    • Member Profiles supply mini biographies on both past and current Congressional members.
    • Artifacts display various portraits, historical pictures, campaign buttons, magazine covers, handheld fans, political record covers, posters, pamphlets, handbills, and newspaper clippings.
    • Historical Data contain links to charts that outline African American Congressional members by state and territory, committee assignments, congressional committee chairs, party leadership positions, chairmen and chairwomen, and familial connections in Congress. There are also two reference links that include a chart listing Constitutional Amendments and Major Civil Rights Acts in Congress mentioned in the Black Americans in Congress web site, as well as an Interactive Map that allows readers to see what representatives came from what state by linking the representative to their mini biography.
    • Educational Resources is a section dedicated to teachers and students that supplies lesson plans, interactive activities, fast facts, an online interactive map, a glossary of terms, and a list of other online resources that may be valuable as teaching tools. Teachers may submit a book request form to receive a complimentary educational book that includes all of the above educational resources.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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