Black History 365: Hiram Rhodes Revels and Joseph Rainey

Since there are so many facets of the history that people of African descent have made in this country, I’ve decided to continue my “Black History 365″ series from my poetry blog here on my AfrocentriqueAZ blog. I’ll be posting a new “First Black” every Wednesday. This week is a political two for one: Hiram Rhodes Revels and Joseph Rainey.  

First African American elected to either chamber of the U.S. Congress: Senator Hiram Rhodes Revels (R-Miss.).

First African American elected to either chamber of the U.S. Congress: Senator Hiram Rhodes Revels (R-Miss.).

From Wikipedia: Hiram Rhodes Revels (September 27, 1827 – January 16, 1901) was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), and a politician. He was the first African American to serve in the United States Senate, and in the U.S. Congress overall. He represented Mississippi in 1870 and 1871 during Reconstruction. During the American Civil War, he helped organize two regiments of the United States Colored Troops and served as a chaplain. Revels was born a free man in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to free parents of African and European ancestry. He was tutored by a black woman for his early education. In 1838 he went to live with his older brother, Elias B. Revels, in Lincolnton, North Carolina, and was apprenticed as a barber in his brother’s shop. After Elias Revels died in 1841, his widow Mary transferred the shop to Hiram before she remarried. Revels attended the Union County Quaker Seminary in Indiana, and studied at a black seminary in Ohio. In 1845 Revels was ordained as a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME); he served as a preacher and religious teacher throughout the Midwest: in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, TennesseeMissouri, and Kansas. “At times, I met with a great deal of opposition,” he later recalled. “I was imprisoned in Missouri in 1854 for preaching the gospel to Negroes, though I was never subjected to violence. He did additional religious studies from 1856 to 1857 at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. He became a minister in a Methodist Episcopal Church inBaltimore, Maryland, where he also served as a principal for a black high school. As a chaplain in the United States Army, Revels helped recruit and organize two black Union regiments during the Civil War in Maryland and Missouri. He took part at the battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi.[

First African American elected to U.S. House of Representatives: Joseph Rainey (R-S.C.).

First African American elected to U.S. House of Representatives: Joseph Rainey (R-S.C.).

From Wikipedia: Joseph Hayne Rainey (June 21, 1832 – August 1, 1887) was the first African American to serve in the United States House of Representatives, the second black person to serve in the United States Congress (U.S. Senator Hiram Revels was the first), the first African American to be directly elected to Congress (Revels was appointed), and the first black presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives. Born into slavery, he was freed in the 1840s when his father purchased the freedom of his entire family. Revels and Rainey were both elected on the Republican ticket. Joseph Hayne Rainey was born into slavery in Georgetown, South Carolina. He and his brother Edward were of mixed race; their mother Grace was of African and French descent. His father Edward Rainey had been allowed to earn money by creating a successful business as a barber, though he paid a portion of his income to his master as required by law. He saved enough by the 1840s to purchase his freedom and that of his wife and sons. With education severely limited for blacks, as an adult Rainey followed his father by becoming a barber, an independent trade that enabled him to build a wide network in his community.

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