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February 23, 2012
The odds were against him.
It was, after all, not 2012, but 1870.
In a state not known, at the time, for its relationship with African Americans.
On this date in 1870, when Congress readmitted Mississippi to the Union, nine years after the state had seceded to join the Confederacy, Hiram Rhodes Revels, a minister from Natchez, became the first African-American to be elected to the Senate.
The election, as you might imagine, didn't go down that easy.
But common sense, and Revels prevailed, and on the floor of the US Senate, he spoke for compromise, moderation, and racial equality.
In his first speech to the Senate on March 16, 1870, he urged reinstatement of the black legislators of the Georgia General Assembly who had been illegally ousted:
"I maintain that the past record of my race is a true index of the feelings which today animate them. They aim not to elevate themselves by sacrificing one single interest of their white fellow citizens."
Revels is on a list of 100 Greatest African Americans and their contributions, in difficult times, should be honored and celebrated.
Not just this month during Black History Month.
But every month.
Maybe one day it'll simply be American history, without regard to the color of your skin.