For Black History Month: Two African American senators
The Kansas City Star
Just in time for the start of Black History Month on Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick appointed an African American to fill John Kerry’s Senate seat.
William “Mo” Cowan, a Boston lawyer, will take over the spot until an election this summer. Kerry was confirmed as the country’s new secretary of state, replacing Hillary Clinton.
Cowan, 43, had been Patrick’s former chief of staff. He will be the state’s first black senator since Edward Brooke, a Republican, held the position from 1966 to 1978, The New York Times reports.
Patrick is Massachusetts’ first black governor. By picking Cowan, Patrick made history because for the first time in more than a century two African Americans will be serving in the Senate at the same time, The Washington Post reports.
Cowan joins Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley. Scott, the only current African American Republican in Congress, replaced Jim DeMint.
Before anyone gets too excited, if African Americans held Senate seats equal to the percentage of blacks in the population, the country would have 13 African American senators.
Thank gerrymandering, segregation, discrimination, and now voter ID and other tricks at the polls that have diminished the black vote and kept blacks from being elected to the Senate in demographically representative numbers.
Cowan is only the eighth African American to serve in the Senate and the sixth since Reconstruction, The Post reports. Only three African Americans in the post-Reconstruction era have been elected — Brooke and Illinois Sen. Carol Mosely Braun and Barack Obama.