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  Chapter Ten:

  Presidential Vote
  Senate and House
  Women in Congress
  Black Elected Officials
  Social Attitudes


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Black Elected Officials

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The number of black elected officials increased greatly after 1970.
From 1867 to 1877, following the Civil War, blacks had voting rights in the former Confederate states. Numerous black officials won election to Congress during that period. With the demise of Reconstruction, however, a combination of legal and illegal devices effectively canceled black suffrage throughout most of the South, where the black population was concentrated. Thereafter, a handful of blacks held minor offices in communities with large black populations, but none was elected to national or state offices. 

This situation persisted throughout the first half of the century and into the second half. It did not change very much until the civil rights movement gathered momentum in the 1960s. In 1966, Edward Brooke, Republican of Massachusetts, was elected as the first black U.S. senator in eighty-eight years. In 1967, Carl B. Stokes was elected as mayor of Cleveland and Richard G. Hatcher as mayor of Gary, Indiana. In 1968, Shirley Chisholm, Democrat of New York, became the first black woman ever elected to Congress. The trend in appointive offices was similar. Thurgood Marshall took his seat on the Supreme Court in 1967. 

In the last three decades of the century, the number of black elected officials increased sixfold, from 1,469 in 1970 to 8,868 in 1998. During that time, blacks gradually achieved an impressive share of certain high public offices. Most of the country’s largest cities elected one or more black mayors. In 1999, the 37 House seats that black representatives held accounted for about 9 percent of all seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

But only one black governor and two black senators were elected in the century. At the lower levels of elected government—school boards, sheriffs, and county tax assessors, for example—blacks were also significantly underrepresented. At the end of the century, only about 2 percent of all elected officials were black.

Chapter 10 chart 4

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

SA 1998, table 480, and SA 1999, table 483. See also “Data Bank Fact Sheet,” at (accessed September 3, 2000), and WA 1999, page 522.


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