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Edward Brooke: A Featured Biography


The first African American elected to the Senate by popular vote, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts served two full terms, from 1967 to 1979. Born in Washington, DC, in 1919, Brooke graduated from Howard University before serving in the United States Army during World War II. After the war, he received a law degree from Boston University. During his Senate career he championed the causes of low-income housing and an increased minimum wage, and promoted commuter rail and mass transit systems. He also worked tirelessly to promote racial equality in the South. Senator Brooke received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony on June 23, 2004.


Robert H. Ogle

Robert H. Ogle

Born in Washington, DC, in 1886, Robert H. Ogle was the first African American known to serve as a professional Senate committee staffer. Ogle was educated at the historic M Street School in Washington, DC, one of the nation’s first public high schools for African American youth. He entered Cornell University in 1905, and was among the first black students to attend the prestigious university. While attending Cornell, he was a co-founder of Alpha Phi Alpha, the nation’s oldest fraternity established for men of African descent. Senate records show that Ogle was originally hired in 1919 as a “laborer” for the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senator Francis E. Warren of Wyoming. His title was changed to “messenger” for the committee in 1921, and he was finally named an “additional clerk” in 1930.

The Kate Brown Story

Kate Brown Report

In 1868 a Senate employee named Kate Brown suffered serious injuries when she was denied a seat in a railway car and forcefully ejected from the train—because she was African American. Her story gained the attention of Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner. A Senate committee investigated the incident, took testimony from witnesses, and reported in Brown’s favor. Kate Brown then sued the railway. When the Supreme Court for the District of Columbia ruled in her favor, the railway appealed the case with an argument that foreshadowed the “separate but equal” doctrine of later years. In 1873 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision, rejecting the company’s argument as “an ingenious attempt” to evade the law of its charter.


The Biographical Directoy of the U.S. Congress

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The Directory provides information about former and current senators.

Integrating Senate Spaces
In 1947 two African Americans challenged discriminatory practices in the US Senate. Read more about their stories here.

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Featured Documents

Blanche Bruce Certificate of Election

Hiram Revels Oath of Office