For Your Consideration

On Feburary 1, 1871, Jefferson Franklin Long, Georgia’s first African American Congressman, became the first African American to speak on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Originally from Alabama, Long was born into slavery and eventually found himself as the slave of a prominent business man in Macon, Georgia. It was in Macon that Long became a tailor and taught himself to read by inspecting the typewriters at the local newspaper, which was located next door to his shop.

After the Civil War ended, Long opened his own shop and became active in the  African Methodist Episcopal Church of Macon and the Republican Party. He became a Congressman in December of 1870 and was Georgia’s first African American Congressman.

He took the floor of the House to speak against a bill that would repeal legislation that prevented Confederate officials and militiary officers from holding public office. The bill had previously passed the Senate and had been sent to the House for a vote. That is when Long took the floor, and said:

 “Do we, then, really propose here to-day, when the country is not ready for it, . . . when loyal men dare not carry the ‘stars and stripes’ through our streets, for if they do they will be turned out of employment, to relieve from political disability the very men who have committed these Kuklux outrages?”

The Bill passed later that day, despite Long’s efforts. Long perished in 1901 from a bout with influenza and was laid to rest in Macon’s Linwood Cemetery. While Long’s speech had little impact on the vote before the House, one would be remiss to ignore his place in Georgia’s history.

7 comments

  1. Harry says:

    My great-great grandfather, a loyalist Kentucky Republican, was hung in 1868 at age of 72 by the forerunners of the Klan known as the Regulators. His offense was, he was too outspoken in his opinions.

  2. Max Power says:

    I think that Feb 1876 date is wrong. By 1871 Reconstruction was over and the Democrats had taken back the state.

  3. CobbGOPer says:

    Of course, you try to get a black Republican elected in this state today and people look at you like you’re crazy.

    • Andre says:

      Forget trying to get a black Republican elected in this state, try being a black Republican in any state and watch other blacks call that person a sell-out, “Uncle Tom,” and all other kinds of derogatory terms.

  4. slyram says:

    Ron, this post is good and can’t imagine the boldness and courage of Revels, Bruce, Long and the original C.B.C. if you will. I just read Clarence Thomas’s book about his grandfather and it reminds me of the “do for self” mentality of the Black community of my youth. Basically, many Blacks were/are conservative in our personal lives but we don’t fit comfortably in either major party. We hear a lot of talk today about the battle between the traditional pro-business GOP establishment and those concerned with social matters. Well, the establishment isn’t alien in my circles and the post-civil war Blacks never envisioned the prolonged entitlement mentality.

    As I tell my conservative friends, the best effort to have a Black GOP member in Georgia starts with a goatee wearing Black nationalists similar to Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

  5. Bucky Plyler says:

    Dr. Alveda King says that her uncle, Martin Luther King, Jr. and her father were both Republicans. Furthermore, she says that if both were alive today they would be social conservatives.

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