African Americans in the Massachusetts Legislature
These images, taken from an exhibit displayed at the State Library of Massachusetts in 2009, trace the role of African American members in the Massachusetts General Court from the days of Reconstruction until the present.

Massachusetts is known as a center of
the abolitionist movement, but the trajectory of representation in state politics here has paralleled that of the nation.

Although there were African Americans elected following the Civil War, there were no African American members from 1902 until 1947 due to demographic shifts, gerrymandering and also to racism.

The city of Boston is known for its strong political flavor. The plethora of African Americans elected in the state were and still are from the capital city and her environs. Two prominent families, the Owens and the Bollings, are highlighted. In 1974 Bill Owens became the first African American State Senator elected in the Commonwealth.

The State Library, located in room 341 of the Massachusetts State House, is open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm.
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