“I am groping about through this American forest of prejudice and proscription, determined to find some form of civilization where all men will be accepted for what they are worth.”

Pickney Benton Stewart Pinchback

On May 10, 1837, Pickney Benton Stewart Pinchback, the first African American to become governor of a state in the United States, was born in Macon, Georgia. In 1862, he made his way to New Orleans, where he raised several companies of the Corps d’Afrique for the Union Army during the Civil War and was one of the few officers of African ancestry. Pinchback resigned his commission because of racial prejudice against black officers. In 1868, he was elected to the Louisiana State Senate and in 1871 became the acting Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana. On December 9, 1872, the incumbent governor was removed from office and Pinchback became governor and served until January 13, 1873. During that brief 35 day period, he received vicious hate mail from around the country as well as threats on his life. After his brief governorship, Pinchback was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1874 and the U.S. Senate in 1876.

The Akosua Report: Facts on The African Diaspora, is written by Akosua Lowery. Follow her on Twitter @AkosuaLowery.

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