“There was no hesitation or ill will that I could see,” Brooke recollected of this positive reception by his Senate colleagues. “Yet these were men who consistently voted against legislation that would have provided equal opportunity to others of my race. I felt that if a senator truly believed in racial separatism I could live with that, but it was increasingly evident that some members of the Senate played on bigotry purely for political gain.” – Senator Edward Brooke
On this date in 1966, Edward W. Brooke was elected to the U.S. Senate. Brooke, a Massachusetts Republican, became the first African-American senator since the Reconstruction era in the United States and the first Black senator elected by popular vote. The Senator from Massachusetts was born in Washington, D.C., October 26, 1919. Brooke attended the public schools of Washington, D.C., graduated from Howard University in 1941 and graduated from Boston University Law School in 1948.
Afterwards, Brooke served as a Captain in the United States Army, infantry, with five years of active service in the European theater of operations. After being honorably discharged, he served as chairman of the Finance Commission for the city of Boston from 1961-1962, was elected attorney general of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1962, reelected in 1964 and elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1966. Senator Brooke was reelected in 1972 and served from January 3, 1967 to January 3, 1979, following his unsuccessful bid for reelection in 1978.
Brooke was the first African American elected to the Senate by popular vote. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2008, in recognition of his service to the nation. Senator Brooke is a resident of Miami, Fla.
The Akosua Report: Facts on The African Diaspora, is written by Akosua Lowery. Follow her on Twitter @AkosuaLowery.