There is something really incredible about the peaceful transfer of power. One president willingly hands over the reigns of power to the next president in an unbroken chain stretching back well over two centuries. How many other countries can claim the same; none of the size and scope of the United States of America. It is truly a marvel to behold.
My brother thought that I should mark this occasion with a bunch of other historic firsts for African Americans. More can be found at the sited link below, but these categories seemed enough for this post.
Here is hoping that one day these lists will be disregarded as race is no longer an issue at all. Electing the first black president should go a long way in achieving that goal.
Congratulations President Barack Obama.
African-American Firsts: Government
- Local elected official: John Mercer Langston, 1855, town clerk of Brownhelm Township, Ohio.
- State elected official: Alexander Lucius Twilight, 1836, the Vermont legislature.
- Mayor of major city: Carl Stokes, Cleveland, Ohio, 1967–1971. The first black woman to serve as a mayor of a major U.S. city was Sharon Pratt Dixon Kelly, Washington, DC, 1991–1995.
- Governor (appointed): P.B.S. Pinchback served as governor of Louisiana from Dec. 9, 1872–Jan. 13, 1873, during impeachment proceedings against the elected governor.
- Governor (elected): L. Douglas Wilder, Virginia, 1990–1994. The only other elected black governor has been Deval Patrick, Massachusetts, 2007–
- U.S. Representative: Joseph Rainey became a Congressman from South Carolina in 1870 and was reelected four more times. The first black female U.S. Representative was Shirley Chisholm, Congresswoman from New York, 1969–1983.
- U.S. Senator: Hiram Revels became Senator from Mississippi from Feb. 25, 1870, to March 4, 1871, during Reconstruction. Edward Brooke became the first African-American Senator since Reconstruction, 1966–1979. Carol Mosely Braun became the first black woman Senator serving from 1992–1998 for the state of Illinois. (There have only been a total of five black senators in U.S. history: the remaining two are Blanche K. Bruce [1875–1881] and Barack Obama (2005– ).
- U.S. cabinet member: Robert C. Weaver, 1966–1968, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Lyndon Johnson; the first black female cabinet minister was Patricia Harris, 1977, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Jimmy Carter.
- U.S. Secretary of State: Gen. Colin Powell, 2001–2004. The first black female Secretary of State was Condoleezza Rice, 2005–.
- Major Party Nominee for President: Sen. Barack Obama, 2008. The Democratic Party selected him as its presidential nominee.
- U.S. President: Sen. Barack Obama, 2008. Obama defeated Sen. John McCain in the general election on Nov. 4, 2008.
African-American Firsts: Law
- Editor, Harvard Law Review: Charles Hamilton Houston, 1919. Barack Obama became the first President of the Harvard Law Review.
- Federal Judge: William Henry Hastie, 1946; Constance Baker Motley became the first black woman federal judge, 1966.
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice: Thurgood Marshall, 1967–1991. Clarence Thomas became the second African American to serve on the Court in 1991.
African-American Firsts: Diplomacy
- U.S. diplomat: Ebenezer D. Bassett, 1869, became minister-resident to Haiti; Patricia Harris became the first black female ambassador (1965; Luxembourg).
- U.S. Representative to the UN: Andrew Young (1977–1979).
- Nobel Peace Prize winner: Ralph J. Bunche received the prize in 1950 for mediating the Arab-Israeli truce. Martin Luther King, Jr., became the second African-American Peace Prize winner in 1964. (See King's Nobel acceptance speech.)
African-American Firsts: Military
- Combat pilot: Georgia-born Eugene Jacques Bullard, 1917, denied entry into the U.S. Army Air Corps because of his race, served throughout World War I in the French Flying Corps. He received the Legion of Honor, France's highest honor, among many other decorations.
- First Congressional Medal of Honor winner: Sgt. William H. Carney for bravery during the Civil War. He received his Congressional Medal of Honor in 1900.
- General: Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., 1940–1948.
- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Colin Powell, 1989–1993.