Feb 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

28 states have a Black representative in Congress — 20 have never had one

Data: U.S. House of Representatives; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios
Data: U.S. House of Representatives; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Twenty-eight states currently have at least one Black member of Congress representing them, with New York having more than any other state, according to data from the House Office of the Historian.

Why it matters: The data provides insight into how long it has taken for Black Americans to be fairly represented in the halls of Congress, news coming as the nation marks Black History Month.

  • Sen. Hiram Revels of Mississippi and Rep. Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina were the first Black Americans to serve in Congress, starting in 1870.
  • Both were Republicans.
  • Since then, 175 Black Americans have served as representatives, delegates or senators, according to the House Office of the Historian.

By the numbers: Twenty states have never had a Black representative in the House or the Senate.

Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.) became the first Black member of Congress to represent her state after being elected in 2020.

  • Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina had the first Black congressional members who first served in the 40th Congress.
  • Illinois has had the highest number of Black House representatives over its history, at 19.
  • There have only ever been 11 Black U.S. senators. Three of them represented Illinois.
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