JUST THE FACTS – Black history month

Contributed by Olga Vanucci.

  • Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican Senator from Mississippi, was the first Black member of the U.S. Congress, sworn in in 1870.
  • Democrats had attempted to block him. The Constitution requires senators to hold citizenship for at least nine years, and they argued that Revels had only recently become a citizen with the 1866 Civil Rights Act and the 14th Amendment. Before that, the Supreme Court had ruled in its 1857 Dred Scott decision that Black people weren’t U.S. citizens.
  • 57 House members in the new 117th Congress are Black, putting the share of Black House members (13%) about on par with the share of the overall U.S. population.
  • There are three Black senators.  
  • There are currently no Black governors.
  • Joe Biden’s Cabinet will include three Black members:  Kamala Harris as vice president, Lloyd Austin as the first Black Secretary of Defense, and Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.  (Bill Clinton’s Cabinet included four Black members.)
  • Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults (65%) say Black people will gain influence in Washington with Joe Biden taking office.


The First Black Man Elected to Congress Was Nearly Blocked From Taking His Seat – HISTORY and

Black Americans have made gains in U.S. political leadership, but gaps remain | Pew Research Center and

Public Sees Black People, Women, Gays and Lesbians Gaining Influence in Biden Era | Pew Research Center

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