Two Black Senators for First Time in History (but neither was Elected)

Friday, February 01, 2013
Mo Cowan

The U.S. Senate has reached a historic milestone, although it may be short-lived.


With John Kerry becoming the next secretary of state, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has appointed his former chief of staff, William “Mo” Cowan, to fill the seat.


Cowan, who is African-American, becomes the second black member currently in the Senate, joining Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina. This marks the first time in the upper chamber’s 223-year history that two African-Americans have served simultaneously. If African-Americans were represented in the Senate relative to their proportion of the national population, there would be at least 13 Black senators.


Scott and Cowan are only the seventh and eighth blacks to ever serve as U.S. senators. However, neither was elected. Just as Cowan was appointed, Scott joined the Senate after South Carolina’s governor chose him to fill the seat left vacant by Jim DeMint’s departure.


Scott plans to run for election in 2014. But Cowan says he is not interested in staying in Kerry’s former Senate seat and does not plan to seek election on his own. The special election to replace Kerry will take place in the next few months, with the primary on April 30 and the runoff on June 25.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

John Kerry Departure Leads To Racial Milestone In The Senate (by Elahe Izadi, Government Executive)

Breaking New Ground--African American Senators (U.S. Senate)

U.S. Senate Gets Its First Black Senator from the South since 1881 (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


Brian 11 years ago
Are they the best people for the job? That's the only issue here. Color has nothing to do with anything. And the comment about needing 13 black senators to satisfy a proper ratio is ridiculous affirmative action bullshit.

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