Major African American Office Holders Since 1641

Mathias de Sousa Marker, St. Mary’s City, Maryland Image courtesy Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt Maryland

The election of Illinois Senator Barack Obama as President of the United States in 2008 has focused attention on the history of black office holding. The list below represents the most significant of the thousands of African American elected officials from 1641 until today. Most of the names below are linked to their profiles on BlackPast.

First Person of African Ancestry Elected to a Public Office in British North America:
Matthias de Souza, Colonial Maryland Legislature, 1641-1642

First Person of African Ancestry Elected to a Public Office in the United States:
Wentworth Cheswell, Constable of Newmarket, New Hampshire, 1768-1817

First African American Woman Elected to a State Legislature:
Crystal Bird Fauset, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 1938-1940

First African American Woman Elected to a State Senate:
Cora Brown, Michigan State Senate, 1953-1956

President of the United States:

Barack Obama, 2009-2017

Vice President of the United States:

Kamala Harris, 2021–

Presidential Cabinet Members (Department Secretaries Only)

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Administration, 1963-1969

  • Robert Weaver, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 1967-1969

The Gerald Ford Administration, 1974-1977

The Jimmy Carter Administration, 1977-1981

  • Patricia Roberts Harris, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 1977-1979, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, 1979-1981
  • Andrew Young, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, 1977-1979
    The Ronald Reagan Administration, 1981-1989
  • Samuel Pierce, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 1981-1989

The George Herbert Walker Bush Administration, 1989-1993

The Bill Clinton Administration, 1993-2001

The George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2009

The Barack Obama Administration, 2009-2017

The Donald J. Trump Administration, 2017-2021

The Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Administration, 2021—

  • Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 2021—
  • Cecilia Rouse, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, 2021—
  • Shalanda Young, Director, United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB), 2022—

United States Senate:

Hiram Rhodes Revels, Mississippi, 1870-1871
Blanche K. Bruce, Mississippi, 1875-1881
Edward W. Brooke, Massachusetts, 1967-1979
Carol Moseley Braun, Illinois, 1993-1999
Barack Obama, Illinois, 2005-2009
Roland Burris, Illinois, 2009-2011
Tim Scott, South Carolina, 2013–
Cory Booker, New Jersey, 2013–
William “Mo” Cowan, Massachusetts, 2013-2013
Kamala Harris, California, 2017-2021
Raphael G. Warnock, Georgia, 2021-
Laphonza Butler, California, 2023-

House of Representatives:

Ninteenth Century

The 1860s and 1870s

The 1880s to the Turn of the Century

Twentieth Century

Turn of the Century to the Forties

The Fifties and Sixties

The Seventies

The Eighties

The Nineties

Twenty-first Century

The Twenty Aughts

The Teens

The Twenties

Non-Voting Congressional Delegates:

Walter E. Fauntroy, District of Columbia, 1971-1991
Melvin Herbert Evans, Virgin Islands, 1979-1981
Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia, 1991–
Victor O. Frazier, Virgin Islands, 1995-1997
Donna Christian-Christensen, Virgin Islands, 1997–
Stacey Plaskett, Virgin Islands, 2015-

United States Supreme Court:

Thurgood Marshall, 1967-1991
Clarence Thomas, 1991–
Ketanji Brown Jackson, 2022—


Lt. Governors:

Attorneys General:

Secretaries of State:

Big City Mayors – First Black Elected Mayors in Cities of 300,000 or More:

**Kelly was the first female mayor of Washington, D.C.
***Franklin was the first African American woman to become mayor of a Southern U.S. city
****Dixon was the first female mayor of Baltimore