Capitol Men: The First Black Congressmen

TUE, FEB 24, 2009 (1:01:50)

Philip Dray tells the the epic story of America’s reconstruction through the lives of the first black congressmen. After the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which granted black men suffrage, 16 black southerners were elected to the United States Congress. These Capitol men faced a high degree of hostility and scrutiny upon their arrival in Washington, yet actively pursued civil rights and lasting economic and educational reforms. Dray reveals how these men became a source of inspiration for Americans in the years following the Civil War, and how they laid the groundwork for future civil rights legislation.

+ BIO: Philip Dray

Philip Dray has been a contributor to The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The New York Post, and Mother Jones. From 1994-2000 he was a staff writer at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). He has been an adjunct faculty member at the New School, teaching an undergraduate course, “The History of the Civil Rights Movement.” Dray is a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University, and has been a Visiting Scholar at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. He holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the University of Minnesota, with a concentration in American Studies, and is a veteran of workshops in Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota and Harvard University. Philip Dray is the author of At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and made him a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and Stealing God’s Thunder: Benjamin Franklin’s Lightning Rod and the Invention of America, and the coauthor of the New York Times Notable Book We Are Not Afraid: The Story of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney, and the Civil Rights Campaign for Mississippi. He lives in Brooklyn.

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