Oxford AASC: Focus On Blacks in Politics, Part 2

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Blacks in Politics, Part 2

Each month, the editors of the Oxford African American Studies Center provide insights into black history and culture, showing ways in which the past and present interact by offering socially and historically relevant short articles, picture essays, and links that will guide the reader interested in knowing more. This month's feature expands on last month's by highlighting influential African Americans elected to public office.

Photo Essay

  • Harold Washington being sworn in as the mayor of Chicago by Judge Harold Freeman, 29 April 1983. Courtesy of AP.

    Blacks in Politics, Part 2

    With the foundation laid by the black politicians of the nineteenth century like Hiram Rhodes Revels, Joseph Hayne Rainey, and Blanche K. Bruce, black politicians of the twentieth century continued to break ground by entering new and higher positions in the political world. In the first half of the twentieth century there was a marked absence of African Americans elected to public office. At times politicians such as Oscar Stanton DePriest and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. were the only elected representatives of their race and had to shoulder the burden of being the political voice for an entire people. As the century progressed, however, African Americans came together in various ways to strengthen their voice politically and to play an active role in governing the country. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Black Cabinet and the Congressional Black Caucus were able to bring together blocs of black politicians to help advance policies and laws that benefitted their black constituents. Over time the number of African Americans elected to public office steadily increased as did the level of authority and influence they were able to achieve. This month's photo essay expands on last month's essay by looking more closely at African Americans who have had a particularly significant impact in politics.

    View photo essay

Featured Articles

The following articles have been selected to help guide readers who want to learn more about influential black politicians who have worked to break down racial barriers. (Access to the following articles is available only to subscribers.)



Primary Source Documents