Historic Moments in Voting

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Tom Bradley was the first Black mayor of Los Angeles. Running against Mayor Sam Yorty in 1969, Bradley was challenging a city establishment that made little room for minorities. While other Black mayoral candidates in Detroit, Cleveland, Gary and Newark could count on large Black populations…

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Barack Obama was the 44th president of the United States and the first African American commander-in-chief. He served two terms, in 2008 and 2012. The son of parents from Kenya and Kansas, Obama was born and raised in Hawaii. He graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, wher…

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In 1984, the Rev. Jesse Jackson became the second African American (Shirley Chisholm preceded him) to make a national run for the U.S. presidency. The campaign was historic in terms of its success. Jackson placed third in the Democratic primary voting and garnered a total of 3.5 million vote…

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The first African–American woman Senator, Carol Moseley–Braun was also only the second Black Senator since the Reconstruction Era. “I cannot escape the fact that I come to the Senate as a symbol of hope and change,” Moseley–Braun said shortly after being sworn in to office in 1993. “Nor woul…

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David Dinkins was elected the first Black mayor of New York City. He served one term, from 1990 to 1993. Before entering politics, Dinkins was among the more than 20,000 Montford Point Marines, the first African-American U.S. Marines. Dinkins’ service was 1945–1946. He graduated cum laude fr…

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Born in a family of North Carolina tenant farmers in 1938, Wilson Goode became Philadelphia’s first African-American mayor. Goode’s parents worked as tenant farmers in Seaboard, North Carolina, during the Great Depression and throughout the 1940s. Goode was fifteen when his family decided to…

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Harold Washington was elected Chicago’s first African-American mayor in 1983. A former representative, Washington had been the sixth in a series of Black legislators from his inner-city district, beginning with Republican Oscar De Priest in 1928. He differed from his predecessors, however, i…

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Walter Edward Washington was the first elected mayor of the nation’s capital since the Civil War.

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Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was the first African American woman in Congress (1968) and the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties (1972). Her motto and title of her autobiography—Unbossed and…

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Edward Brooke III, who served as attorney general of Massachusetts before becoming the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate by a popular vote, was an epic figure in the politics of the 1960s and 1970s. With his ardent support for civil rights, faith in the ability of an active a…

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Barbara Jordan was elected to the Texas Senate in 1966 — the first African American senator since 1883. During her time in the Senate she passed the state’s first minimum wage law and worked on anti-discrimination clauses in business contracts, according to the U.S. House of Representatives’…

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In 1990, L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia became the nation’s first elected Black governor as he took the oath of office in Richmond, Virginia.

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Carl Stokes was the first African-American mayor of a major American city. He was elected mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1967 and re-elected in 1969. He also served in the Ohio Legislature as a municipal judge.

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