Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


African-Americans Still Dreaming of Equal Representation in Congress

Bookmark and Share

Black Americans have been elected to the U.S. House in less than half the states throughout history and to the U.S. Senate in just three

More than 42 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and more than 47 years after his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech at the Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C, there are still measurable gaps in racial equality in the United States - one of the most glaring is perhaps the still slow progress in electing African Americans to the U.S. Congress.

Through the 2010 election, 47 states have yet to elect an African American to the U.S. Senate and 26 states have never elected a black American to the U.S. House.

On the Senate side, only three states have elected black senators in U.S. history: Mississippi (Hiram Revels in 1870, Blanche Bruce in 1874), Illinois (Carol Moseley-Braun in 1992, Barack Obama in 2004), and Massachusetts (Edward Brooke in 1966). A third Senator from Illinois, Roland Burris, was appointed to his seat in 2009.

Only half of these senators served a full term: Moseley-Braun (one term), Bruce (one term), and Brooke (two terms).

No African Americans currently serve in the nation's upper legislative chamber.

In the House of Representatives, 121 blacks have been elected over the last 140 years across 24 states.

However, more than half of these representatives come from just six states: Illinois (14), California (12), South Carolina (10), New York (9), Georgia (8), and North Carolina (8).

In the 2010 election, 42 blacks from 21 states were elected to the 112th Congress, or 9.7 percent of the 435-seat body.

Not only are blacks currently still underrepresented in the House by more than a third vis-à-vis their proportion of the U.S. population (approximately 13 percent in 2010), but several areas of the nation have still yet to send an African American to the nation's lower legislative chamber.

States that have never elected an African American to the U.S. House are spread out across all four regions of the country (regions as designated by the U.S. Census Bureau):

· Five states in the Midwest: Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota

· Five states in the Northeast: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont

· Four states in the South: Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

· Twelve states in the West: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.

It is true that, with the exception of Massachusetts and Kentucky, most of these states have historically been among the least populated in the nation. And many of these have not had a large black population.

Still, the steps toward true equality will be greater when more African Americans are elected in districts without significant or majority black populations.

For example, California currently stands alone in the 13-state West region as the only state to have elected an African American to Congress.

The Golden State has elected the second most blacks to the U.S. House with 12 to date.

Overall, 79 percent of blacks who have served in the U.S. House have been Democrats (96 of 121) with 21 percent members of the GOP (25).

In the 112th Congress, all but two of the 42 black American U.S. Representatives are Democrats (excepting Republicans Allen West of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina).

Number of Black Americans Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives by State

State
Dem
GOP
Total
Illinois
13
1
14
California
12
0
12
South Carolina
1
9
10
New York
9
0
9
Georgia
7
1
8
North Carolina
4
4
8
Florida
5
2
7
Alabama
3
3
6
Michigan
6
0
6
Texas
6
0
6
Maryland
5
0
5
Louisiana
3
1
4
Missouri
4
0
4
Pennsylvania
4
0
4
Indiana
3
0
3
Mississippi
2
1
3
Ohio
3
0
3
Tennessee
2
0
2
Virginia
1
1
2
Connecticut
0
1
1
Minnesota
1
0
1
New Jersey
1
0
1
Oklahoma
0
1
1
Wisconsin
1
0
1
Total
96
25
121
Table compiled by Smart Politics with information from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Michael Steele Era on Par with Historical Tenure of RNC Chairmen
Next post: African Americans Notch Record Number of U.S. House Seats in 2010 Election

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting