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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

On This Day in American History -- A "Two-fer"

On this day (from today's New York Times:

It took more than 100 years after the Civil War for an African-American to join the presidential cabinet, and even longer for one to be elected governor. Both milestones happened on this day.

Robert C. Weaver official portrait.jpg

Robert C. Weaver was appointed secretary of housing and urban development by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, and L. Douglas Wilder took the oath of office as governor in Richmond, Va., in 1990.

Weaver, who had three Harvard degrees, was the great-grandson of a slave and an expert strategist in the civil rights movement. “Fight hard and legally,” he said, “and don’t blow your top.”

His government service began during the New Deal, when he tried to harness benefits for blacks from the domestic spending programs. Weaver has been followed by 19 other African-Americans in the cabinet.

Photograph:L. Douglas Wilder.

Mr. Wilder, a grandson of slaves, won the governorship in the onetime capital of the Confederacy with 50.19 percent of the vote. History was made only after a recount.

His margin of victory lagged far behind those of his Democratic running mates, suggesting that many Democrats did not vote for him.

Only one other African-American has been elected governor of a state: Deval Patrick, a Democrat who led Massachusetts from 2007 to 2015.

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