10 groundbreaking Black politicians you've probably never heard of

Most people know about the 13th Amendment and the Civil Rights Movement, but what about the individuals who won smaller, but vital, victories for representation along the way?

THE FIRST COLORED SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVES
THE FIRST COLORED SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVES / Historical/GettyImages
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Robert Weaver
Robert Weaver / Washington Bureau/GettyImages

Robert Weaver

After the rise of the KKK and Jim Crow Laws, it became virtually impossible for Black citizens to play a role in politics for nearly 100 years. Given the many systems created to block voting rights, it makes sense that Robert Weaver was only able to join the government in an appointed capacity.

While Weaver did face discrimination as a Black man in America, he was able to get attention through his education, earning a Bachelor's Degree and PhD from Harvard. He earned a reputation as a keen economist, as well as providing good advice on race-related issues.

In 1960, President Kennedy appointed Weaver to be the head of the Housing and Home Finance Agency. Five years later, Lyndon B. Johnson created the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which he appointed Weaver to run in 1961. This made Robert Weaver the first Black man to hold a Cabinet post in US history.

In addition to his roles in the government, Weaver wrote several books about urban life and its connections with Black communities, as well as teaching at a few universities in New York. He made major contributions to the discussion around redlining and housing inequalities, pushing for Black Americans to have better access to safe and sustainable housing.