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The United States Senate has had ten African-American elected or appointed office holders. The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral United States Congress, which is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau defines African Americans as citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa. The term is generally used for Americans with at least partial ancestry in any of the original peoples of sub-Saharan Africa. During the founding of the federal government, African Americans were consigned to a status of second-class citizenship or enslaved. No African American served in federal elective office before the ratification in 1870 of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the federal and state governments from denying any citizen the right to vote because of that citizen's race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Of the ten senators, six were popularly elected (including one that previously had been appointed by his state's governor), two were elected by the state legislature prior to the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913 (which provides for the direct election of U.S. Senators by the people of each state), and two were appointed by a state Governor. The 113th United States Congress (2013–15) marked the first time that two African Americans served concurrently in the Senate.
The first two African-American senators represented the state of Mississippi during the Reconstruction Era, following the American Civil War. Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American to serve, was elected by the Mississippi State Legislature to succeed Albert G. Brown, who resigned during the Civil War. Some Democratic members of the United States Senate opposed his being seated based on the court case Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) by the Supreme Court of the United States, claiming that Revels did not meet the citizenship requirement, but the majority of Senators voted to seat him. The Mississippi state legislature elected Blanche Bruce in 1875, but Republicans lost power of the Mississippi state legislature in 1876. Bruce was not elected to a second term in 1881. In 1890 the Democratic-dominated state legislature passed a new constitution disfranchising most black voters. Every other Southern state also passed disfranchising constitutions by 1908, excluding African Americans from the political system in the entire former Confederacy. This situation persisted into the 1960s until after federal enforcement of constitutional rights under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The next black United States Senator, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, took office in 1967. He was the first African American to be elected by popular vote after the ratification in 1913 of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, rather than to be elected by a state legislature. The Seventeenth Amendment established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote.
Carol Moseley Braun and Barack Obama were both elected by the voters of Illinois, entering the Senate in 1993 and 2005, respectively. Carol Moseley Braun is the first African-American woman to be elected - or appointed - to the Senate after the ratification in 1920 of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Nineteenth Amendment prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. While serving in the Senate, Obama became the first African American to be elected to the office of President of the United States. Roland Burris, also an African American, was appointed to fill the remainder of the Senate term of President-elect Obama.
The next two black Senators, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Mo Cowan of Massachusetts, were both appointed by governors to fill the terms of Jim DeMint and John Kerry, respectively, who had resigned their positions. On October 16, 2013, citizens of New Jersey elected Cory Booker in a special election to fill the seat of the late Senator Frank R. Lautenberg. Sworn into office on October 31, 2013, he is the first African-American Senator to be elected since Barack Obama in 2004 and the first to represent the state of New Jersey, later securing a full 6-year term in the 2014 mid-term elections. Senator Tim Scott retained his seat in a special election in 2014, also securing a full 6-year term in 2016. On January 3, 2017, Senators Scott and Booker were joined in the Senate by Kamala Harris of California, who was elected on November 8, 2016. Senator Harris is the second African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.
As of 3 January 2017[update], there have been 1,970 members of the United States Senate, but only ten have been African American. While 58 nationwide organizations exist to elect women to the United States Congress, including EMILY's List and the Susan B. Anthony List, no organization has been formed to elect African Americans to the United States Congress.
|Senator||State||Took office||Left office||Party||Congress||Ref.||Note|
|Hiram Rhodes Revels
|Mississippi||February 25, 1870||March 3, 1871||Republican||41st
|Mississippi||March 4, 1875||March 3, 1881||Republican||44th
|Massachusetts||January 3, 1967||January 3, 1979||Republican||90th
|Carol Moseley Braun
|Illinois||January 3, 1993||January 3, 1999||Democratic||103rd
|Illinois||January 3, 2005||November 16, 2008||Democratic||109th
|Illinois||January 15, 2009||November 29, 2010||Democratic||111th
|South Carolina||January 2, 2013||Incumbent||Republican||112th
|Massachusetts||February 1, 2013||July 16, 2013||Democratic||113th
|New Jersey||October 31, 2013||Incumbent||Democratic||113th
|California||January 3, 2017||Incumbent||Democratic||115th
|Senator–elect||State||Took office||Left office||Party||Congress||Ref.||Note|
|P. B. S. Pinchback
Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) became the first African American to represent California in the United States Senate on January 3, 2017.
Harris, a Democrat, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. She became California's attorney general in January 2011. She was the first woman and the first African-American to hold the office in California's history.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will welcome its first African American members in this century after Democrats added Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to the panel that handles judicial nominations and appointments to the Justice Department.
She will also be just the second black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, and the first black senator from California.
The race to succeed Senator Barbara L. Boxer of California was supposed to be one of the marquee contests of the year ... It offers a window into the ethnic kaleidoscope that is California: Pitting a Latino, Representative Loretta Sanchez, against an African-American, Kamala Harris, the state attorney general.
Harris, California’s first African-American senator, has not responded to the conservative response online.
Harris’ mother, Dr. Shyamala Harris, emigrated from India. Her father, Donald Harris, emigrated from Jamaica.