The US Senate Will Now Have More Black Members Than Ever in Its History: 2

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)Tim Dominick/The State/ZUMAPress

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


With Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick appointing his former chief of staff William “Mo” Cowan to fill the Senate seat vacated by incoming Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States’ upper legislative chamber will make history by boasting more black members than ever before: two.

This will be the first time the Senate has had more than one black member at once. Last December, Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint, who left to run the conservative Heritage Foundation. The Senate’s high-watermark of two black members may not last long, though: Cowan’s seat will be permanently filled by the winner of a special election in Massachusetts in June, and Scott’s seat will be up for grabs next year.

Throughout American history, there have only been eight black senators in total; in addition to Scott and Cowan, they include: Hiram Rhodes Revels (R-Miss.), Blanche Kelso Bruce (R-Miss.), Edward Brooke (R-Mass.), Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and Roland Burris (D-Ill.). Of these, only Brooke, Braun, and Obama were directly elected by popular vote; Revels and Bruce were appointed by their state legislatures, and Burris was appointed by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Eighty-five years separated the tenures of Bruce and Brooke, who served as the first black senator since Reconstruction. Before Scott, there hadn’t been a black senator from the South in over 130 years. 

The Senate, in other words, has historically been a very difficult plateau for blacks to reach, and getting there hasn’t grown much easier since the Civil War. 

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate