1929 March 4

Rep. Oscar De Priest Takes His Seat in the House; First African-American in the 20th Century


Oscar De Priest, a Republican from Illinois, was the first African-American elected to the House of Representative in the 20th century, and also the first African-American from a Northern state ever elected to either the House or the Senate.

On June 12, 1929, a controversy erupted when Southern segregationists protested the fact that Lou Henry Hoover, wife of President Herbert Hoover, invited De Priest’s wife, Jessie De Priest, to the White House for tea. And on March 21, 1934, Oscar De Priest protested the segregated facilities in the Capitol Building restaurant.

Read about Oscar De Priest: http://www.whitehousehistory.org/whha_shows/depriest-tea-incident/african-american-congress.html#1

Watch De Priest’s great-grandson discuss his family legacy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5m6iBM01AQ

Learn more: U.S. Congress, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007 (2008)

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