Black Americans in Congress
Featured Artifacts

View artifacts from the House Collection related to the history of Black Americans in Congress, from portraits to political campaign buttons.

Oscar De Priest Campaign Button
<em>Oscar De Priest Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_De_Priest_Oscar_campaign_pin_2008_047_001.xml
Oscar De Priest’s successful election campaign to represent a district in Chicago initiated the trend of black representation in northern cities, where the Great Migration sharply increased African-American populations. Born in Alabama, De Priest became the first African American elected from the North and the first to be elected in the 20th century.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Black Lawmakers Fan
<em>Black Lawmakers Fan</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Black_lawmakers_fan_by_Diggs_2007_076_000.xml
The 85th Congress (1957–1959) was the first Congress since Reconstruction with four black lawmakers serving simultaneously. Charles Diggs, Jr., of Michigan, William Dawson of Illinois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., of New York, and Robert Nix, Sr., of Pennsylvania were among an expanding group African-American Democrats representing northern, urban constituencies.

Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
William Levi Dawson
<em>William Levi Dawson</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Dawson_William_2002_011_004.xml
This portrait honors William Levi Dawson’s 1955–1970 chairmanship of the Committee on Government Operations. Dawson preferred to stay out of the limelight and work within institutional pathways to effect civil rights change. Dawson was the first African American to chair a House standing committee, the Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments, from 1949–1952.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Black Lawmakers Fan
<em>Black Lawmakers Fan</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Black_lawmakers_fan_2006_209_000.xml
By the mid-1970s, 16 African Americans served in Congress, including one Senator, Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, and three women, Shirley Chisholm of New York, Cardiss Collins of Illinois and Barbara Jordan of Texas.

Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Jet Magazine
<em>Jet Magazine</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Burke_Yvonne_Jet_Mag_2007_371_000.xml
Despite this Jet magazine prediction that Yvonne Brathwaite Burke of California would be the first black woman in Congress, it did not come to pass. However she was among the black women pioneers. She represented her Los Angeles district from 1973–1978, and was the first black woman assigned to the Appropriations Committee in 1975.

Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Shirley Chisholm Campaign Poster
<em>Shirley Chisholm Campaign Poster</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Chisholm_Shirley_campaign_poster_2005_181_000.xml
The first African-American woman to campaign for the presidency, Shirley Chisholm of New York ran with the slogan of “Unbought and Unbossed.” This 1972 campaign poster featured her famous mantra, declaring her independence from special interests and machine politics.

Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Ebony Magazine 
<em>Ebony Magazine </em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Chisholm_Shirley_Ebony_cover_2007_204_000.xml
Representative Shirley Chisholm of New York became the first African-American woman in the House when she was elected in 1968 from a newly reconfigured, majority-black district in Brooklyn, New York. Ebony magazine featured the lawmaker in an article titled, “New Faces in Congress.”

Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Shirley Anita Chisholm
<em>Shirley Anita Chisholm</em>
Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress, represented a Brooklyn district for more than a decade. In 2009, the House of Representatives honored her pathbreaking service with a newly commissioned portrait. Congresswoman Chisholm’s independence and outspokenness are on full display in the portrait’s bold portrayal of the legendary lawmaker.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Eva Clayton Campaign Button
<em>Eva Clayton Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Clayton_Eva_campaign_pin_2008_047_014.xml
Representative Eva Clayton became the first African-American woman to represent North Carolina, as well as the state’s first black Representative since George Henry White left office in 1901.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Cardiss Collins Campaign Button
<em>Cardiss Collins Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Collins_Cardiss_campaign_pin_2007_238_004.xml
Following the unexpected death of George W. Collins of Illinois, his widow, Cardiss Collins, won the special election for his seat. Congresswoman Collins served the district for nearly 24 years.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Jet Magazine 
<em>Jet Magazine </em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Conyers_Jet_Mag_1964_2007_274_000.xml
Just after his election in 1964, John Conyers, Jr., of Michigan appeared on the cover of Jet magazine. Conyers continues to represent his Detroit constituency.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
William (Bill) Gray III
<em>William (Bill) Gray III</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Gray_William_2002_008_003.xml
Serving a total of nearly 13 years in the House, William (Bill) Gray III of Pennsylvania became the first African American to serve as Majority Whip. This portrait honors his chairmanship of the Committee on Budget, from 1985– 1988.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Oscar De Priest Handbill
<em>Oscar De Priest Handbill</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_De_Priest_Oscar_Handbill_2007_228_000.xml
Representative Oscar De Priest addressed a group of supporters at Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior High in Dayton, Ohio. Breaking racial barriers when he became the first African American elected to Congress in nearly three decades, De Priest served as a symbol of hope for African Americans and spoke at venues across the nation.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Ronald V. Dellums
<em>Ronald V. Dellums</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Dellums_Ronald_2002_007_006.xml
Ronald V. Dellums’s service as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee is commemorated in this portrait. A strong advocate of peace and civil rights, Dellums was the first African-American Member to lead this committee.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Walter Fauntroy Campaign Button
<em>Walter Fauntroy Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Fauntroy_Walter_campaign_button_2007_246_001.xml
Walter Fauntroy, the former Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s congressional lobbyist, became the District of Columbia’s first Delegate in nearly 100 years.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Floyd Flake Campaign Button
<em>Floyd Flake Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Flake_Floyd_campaign_pin_2008_047_010.xml
Floyd Flake of New York, a minister for the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamaica, Queens, was a strong proponent of urban economic development in the 1990s. He served on the influential House Budget Committee during his tenure in the House.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Harold Ford, Sr., Campaign Button

<em>Harold Ford, Sr., Campaign Button</em><br /><br />/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Ford_Harold_campaign_pin_2008_047_013.xml
Elected to the House at age 29, Harold Ford, Sr., of Tennessee later became one of the youngest Members ever to chair a subcommittee on Ways and Means.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Scenes at the National Capitol During a Session of Congress (detail)
<em>Scenes at the National Capitol During a Session of Congress</em> (detail)/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Frank_Leslie_1889_scenes_at_the_national_capital_2007_336_001.xml
In this detail of a 1889 print entitled “Scenes at the National Capitol During a Session of Congress,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated documented the great interest of African Americans in observing Congress. Although no official segregation laws existed, in practice the visitors’ galleries in both the House and Senate were segregated by gender and race.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Gary Franks Campaign Button
<em>Gary Franks Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Franks_Gary_campaign_pin_2008_047_018.xml
Gary Franks was one of the few African-American Republicans to serve in the 1990s. He represented his Connecticut district from 1991–1996.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Augustus (Gus) Hawkins
<em>Augustus (Gus) Hawkins <br /></em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Hawkins_Augustus_2002_020_004.xml
Commissioned upon his retirement in 1990, Augustus (Gus) Hawkins’s Chairman portrait honors his service in the Committee on Education and Labor. The painting includes symbols of his greatest pursuits in public life: civil rights, emblemized by the Abraham Lincoln bookend, and children’s welfare and education, indicated by a copy of Opening Doors for America’s Children, a report published by the National Commission on Children, established in 1989.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object 
Augustus (Gus) Hawkins Campaign Button

<em>Augustus (Gus) Hawkins Campaign Button</em><br /><br />/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Hawkins_Gus_campaign_pin_2008_004_002.xml
A reserved but influential advocate for civil rights, Augustus (Gus) Hawkins represented his California district from 1963 to 1990. Explaining his legislative approach, he said, “The leadership belongs not to the loudest, not to those who beat the drums or blow the trumpets, but to those who day in and day out, in all seasons, work for the practical realization of a better world—those who have the stamina to persist and remain dedicated.”
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Charles Hayes Campaign Button
<em>Charles Hayes Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Hayes_Charles_campaign_pin_2008_047_015.xml
Former union leader Charles Hayes of Illinois won his first-ever campaign for elective office when he prevailed in a 1983 special election to succeed Harold Washington, who had been elected as Chicago’s first black mayor.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Cynthia McKinney Campaign Button
<em>Cynthia McKinney Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_McKinney_Cynthia_campaign_pin_2008_047_007.xml
As the first African-American woman elected to Congress from the state of Georgia, Cynthia McKinney focused on human rights abuses and international relations during her House service.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Ralph Metcalfe Newspaper Photograph
<em>Ralph Metcalfe Newspaper Photograph</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Metcalfe_Ralph_image_2007_255_000.xml
Featured here in a 1933 news photograph at a college track meet, Ralph Metcalfe was an Olympic track star in both the 1932 and 1936 summer games. In 1970, he was elected as a Representative for Illinois. As a Member, Metcalfe worked to sever ties with the Chicago political machine, working towards greater political autonomy for the city’s voters.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives, Photography Collection
About this object
Kweisi Mfume Campaign Button
<em>Kweisi Mfume Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Mfume_campaign_pin_2008_048_000.xml
Kweisi Mfume represented Baltimore, Maryland for 10 years before leaving Congress to serve as Chief Executive Officer for the NAACP.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Parren Mitchell
<em>Parren Mitchell <br /></em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Mitchell_Parren_2002_014_003.xml
In 1950, Parren Mitchell of Maryland successfully sued the University of Maryland at College Park for admission, and became the school’s first African-American graduate student. Twenty years later, he was elected to the first of eight consecutive terms in the House, representing a Baltimore district, during which he served as Chair of the Committee on Small Business.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Robert Nix Campaign Button
<em>Robert Nix Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Nix_Robert_campaign_pin_2008_047_008.xml
Initially earning a seat in the House of Representatives by special election, Robert Nix, Sr., of Pennsylvania served 21 years in Congress. He was one of the first blacks elected during the civil rights era, and once commented that he dedicated himself “to ending the oppression of black people.”
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Powell's "Keep the Faith, Baby!" Record Jacket
<em>Powell's "Keep the Faith, Baby!" Record Jacket</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Powell_Adam_Clayton_album_2007_281_000a.xml
New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.’s, Keep the Faith, Baby! record indicated the popularity of the Congressman’s civil rights message, as well as his determination to publicize his views.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Campaign Button

<em>Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Campaign Button</em><br /><br />/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Powell_Adam_Clayton_campaign_pin_2008_048_000.xml
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., of New York, a charismatic and determined civil rights proponent in the U.S. House, served as a symbol of black political activism for millions of African Americans. His slogan "Keep the Faith, Baby," encompassed his message of hope and perseverance to the black community.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Joseph Rainey
<em>Joseph Rainey <br /></em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Rainey_Joseph_2004_098_000.xml
Joseph Rainey, the first African-American Member of Congress, is depicted in this posthumous portrait overlooking the National Mall and the unfinished Washington Monument. The unfinished monument, like Rainey’s service in the House, illustrates the continual development of democracy in America.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Louis Stokes Campaign Button
<em>Louis Stokes Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Stokes_Louis_campaign_pin_2006_123_023.xml
First elected in 1968, Louis Stokes of Ohio chaired two committees during his 15 terms in Congress, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. Stokes also led the Select Committee on Assassinations and was chairman of a key Appropriations subcommittee.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Unmasking the Civil Rights Bill Pamphlet
<em>Unmasking the Civil Rights Bill Pamphlet</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_unmasking_pamphlet_2007_352a.xml
This pamphlet, Unmasking the Civil Rights Bill, was circulated in 1964, and presented the dissenting view of six Judiciary Committee members, E.E. Willis, E.L. Forrester, William Tuck, Robert Ashmore, John Dowdy, and Basil Whitener. The text argues that anti-discrimination regulation would undermine the individual freedoms of all citizens, and that desegregation would cause great harm to businesses, farmers, and labor unions.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Harold Washington Campaign Button
<em>Harold Washington Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Washington Harold campaign pin_2008_047_012.xml
Harold Washington of Illinois used his seat in the House as a springboard for his successful effort to become the first black mayor of Chicago.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
J. C. Watts Campaign Button
<em>J. C. Watts Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Watts_JC_campaign_pin_2008_047_020.xml
In 1994, J. C. Watts of Oklahoma received the Republican nomination for his district and won election as one of only five black Republicans to serve in Congress in the 20th century.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Alan Wheat Campaign Button
<em>Alan Wheat Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Wheat_Alan_campaign_pin_2008_047_004.xml
Coming up from the Missouri general assembly, Alan Wheat was elected to the House in 1983 and served his Missouri constituency until 1994.
Collection of U.S. House of Representatives
Albert Wynn Campaign Button
<em>Albert Wynn Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Wynn_Albert_campaign_pin_2008_047_011.xml
After a decade in the Maryland state house and senate, Wynn was first elected to the 103rd Congress (1993–1995). He represented his Maryland suburban district for eight terms.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Andrew Young Campaign Button
<em>Andrew Young Campaign Button</em>/tiles/non-collection/b/baic_artifacts_Young_Andrew_campaign_pin_2008_047_009.xml
Andrew Young, Jr., of Georgia won election to the U.S. House in 1973, becoming one of the first African Americans to represent a southern state since Reconstruction.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives