Throughout this comprehensive work, the stories of notable African Americans who have served in Congress are told, including: Hiram R. Revels of Mississippi, the first African American senator; Shirley A. Chisholm of New York, the first black woman to serve in Congress; Charles B. Rangel of New York, the chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Barack Obama of Illinois, the only African American senator in the 110th Congress.
The first part of the book features chronological chapters on the history of African American involvement in U.S. politics and on Capitol Hill, while the second part features thematic chapters on the African American political experience. The issues and events covered include:
- The debate over slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction
- The civil rights movement and political empowerment
- The maturation of the Congressional Black Caucus
- Elections and investigations
- War, peace, patriotism and international affairs
- The struggle for economic justice
It also details some little-known stories, including future Rep. Robert Smalls’ heroism in commandeering a Confederate ship during the Civil War and piloting it into Union custody and the controversy when President Herbert Hoover’s wife invited the wife of Rep. Oscar De Priest to a White House tea.
The appendixes contain lists of African Americans in the 110th Congress and those since the 41st Congress, a chronology of significant events and an extensive bibliography.