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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Walter Washington
Walter Washington / Ron Gerelli/GettyImages

Walter Washington

Not only was Walter Washington one of the first Black mayors of a major city in the US, but he also was incredibly influential in the self-governance of Washington D. C. Since its founding, the residents of the capital have struggled to control how their locality is run, hence the "End taxation without representation" license plates many residents use.

Walter E. Washington was born in Georgia, but he moved to D. C. to pursue his education at Howard University, where he got both his bachelor's degree and his law degree. Because of his skills and location, he quickly attracted the attention of presidents. In 1961, John F. Kennedy named him the executive director of the National Capitol Housing Authority.

Six years later, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Washington as mayor-commissioner for the District. He became well-known in the community, earning titles like "Uncle Walter" and the "walking mayor" because he was so accessible. Along with running the city, Washington fought for the residents to have greater representation.

When the Home Rule Act passed in Congress, the people of Washington D. C. had the opportunity to vote for their mayor for the first time in around a century—and elected Washington. He was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1975.