Two years ago African-Americans nationwide celebrated a watershed moment with the election of the nation’s first black president. Two years later history is still being made, this time, by some of the other African-Americans seeking elective office.
In the lead up to Tuesday’s election much was made of the fact that African-Americans still faced hurdles when trying to win statewide office.
There were several African-Americans who had hoped to head to the governor’s mansion this year, including Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, and Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker who had both sought to become their state’s first African-American governors.
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While neither one of their bids was successful, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick became the first African-American governor to be given a second term in office. Patrick is the second African-American elected to the position of governor of a U.S. state, but former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder was barred from seeking a second consecutive term in office by state law.
President Obama swept into office on a wave of change, and there was a similar theme last night for Republicans as they took control of the House of Representatives but not the U.S. Senate. The divided Congress will also see increased diversity within the Republican caucus.
In South Carolina Tim Scott was elected to Congress becoming one of two black Republican members of Congress, the first since former Congressman J.C. Watts represented an Oklahoma congressional district.
Scott will be joined by Tea Party favorite Allen West of Florida, the military veteran who defeated his Democratic rival to secure his place in Washington in the upcoming Congress.
Their wins were successes in a year when many thought we might see the rise of the black Republican given the increased candidacies by African-American conservatives. Black candidates for the Senate however, fell short. Kendrick Meek and Michael Thurmond lost in Florida and Georgia respectively, while Alvin Greene’s longshot wound up looking like a novelty.
And yet, another milestone was also made in a southern state as Terri Sewell, a Princeton and Harvard educated lawyer became the first African-American woman to serve in Congress from the state of Alabama. Sewell is replacing Artur Davis who gave up his seat in Congress to run for Governor.
It remains to be seen if either Scott or West will join the Congressional Black Caucus which is currently made up of all Democrats.