Ave atque vale, Senator Edward W. Brooke III.
Edward W. Brooke III, who in 1966 became the first Black elected to the US Senate by popular vote, winning as a Republican in overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts, died on Saturday, January 3, 2014 at his home in Coral Gables, Fla. Brooke was 95 years old.
Previously, Mr. Brooke was twice elected Attorney General of Massachusetts and was the first Black to be elected Attorney General of any state.
The only previous Black Senators were Blanche Kelso Bruce and Hiram Rhodes Revels – unsurprisingly both Republicans – who were elected prior to the 17th Amendment, hence not by voters but, instead, by the Mississippi Legislature during the punitive years of the Reconstruction.
I will not pretend that I agreed with all of Sen. Brooke’s politics, but I will also not pretend that I disagreed with all of them either. Nor will I say that he served with less than grace, dignity, and firm commitment to both his constituency and his principles, walking a difficult and fine line when the two were at odds.
Ave atque vale, Senator Edward W. Brooke III. Hail and farewell.