With the current political and social climate, it may seem as if things would worsen for people of color, and other minorities, under a Trump administration. Even with his campaign promise to “make America great again” by building a wall on Mexico’s dime, accusing Mexico of “not sending their best” in terms of immigration, along with other verbal attacks on minorities, let us not forget the contributions made by blacks, Latinos, Asians, etc., that make America already great. Believe it or not, the first Hispanic to serve on Capitol Hill was back in 1822! Here are a few people who were the first of their ethnicity in their positions:
- Joseph Marion Hernández, born in Spanish Florida, served as the first Hispanic Congressman when Florida became a US territory in 1822
- Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi and Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina became the first African Americans to serve in Congress in 1870
- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, born in Havana, was the first Hispanic woman to be elected into Congress in 1989, and is still currently serving
- Shirley Chisholm of New York was the first African-American woman elected into Congress in 1968
- Patsy Mink of Hawaii, of Asian-Pacific descent, was elected into Congress in 1965, and was also the first ethnic woman in this position
Other men and women of color have made political and social strides throughout American history, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard & Mildred Loving, the Black Panthers and the Young Lords. They took a stand for their people when social inequality and injustice abounded, even though our constitution guarantees “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for ALL Americans.
Let the results of the 2016 election encourage you to be politically engaged, if you weren’t already. This doesn’t necessarily mean run for office, but at least know who your congress & senate representatives are and what they’re all about.
In the 54 years since Dr. King’s speech, has his dream come true? It can be argued that it hasn’t completely but you can take a listen to his speech and draw a conclusion.