The Extraordinary Rise of Black Politicians After Emancipation

Black voters by and large determined the outcome of the 2020 United States presidential election. In doing so, an ability to harness Black political will was displayed.This ability reflects the kind of committed organizing Black folks also displayed right after legal enslavement ended. Between1867 and 1877, freedmen turned fully to electoral politics as a mechanism for improving Black lives. As a result, 2 senators and 16 congressman were elected, and upwards of 2,000 additional Black officials are reported to have held public offices during the era known as Radical Reconstruction.
Who were these pioneering Black politicians who quickly readied themselves to lead? What did their elections accomplish? How can knowledge of their experiences inform present-day strategies? To learn more about the earliest cohort of Black elected officials and the circumstances that produced them, click here.

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