Massachusetts

Ed Brooke Takes the Oath of Office

On Jan. 10, 1967, Ed Brooke was sworn in as the junior senator from Massachusetts, the first African-American to win popular election to the upper chamber of Congress.

Ed Brooke

Ed Brooke

Brooke was then the commonwealth’s attorney general, famous for his coordination of the hunt for the Boston Strangler. He had run against former Gov. Endicott ‘Chub’ Peabody, who had an impeccable civil rights record.

The candidates were civil – and pretty much silent on the subject of race. Brooke distanced himself from black nationalist Stokely Carmichael, who had delivered fiery speeches in Boston and Cambridge. “I was asking the voters to rise above all that,” Brooke said.

In the run-up to the election, Brooke supported policies unimaginable to most of today’s politicians: an increase in Social Security benefits, extension of Medicare to young people, a negative federal income tax (for poor people) and improvements to the War on Poverty. He wanted to end the War in Vietnam; Peabody supported it.

Today it’s amazing to consider Brooke ran as a Republican. He beat Peabody by 300,000 votes.

Ed Brooke won re-election in 1972. A nasty divorce cost him a third term, as he was defeated by Lowell Congressman Paul Tsongas.

In 2002, Brooke was diagnosed with breast cancer, and he has since worked to raise awareness of the disease among men. In 2007, Barbara Walters revealed she had an affair with Brooke for several years during the 1970s. At 94, he is now the oldest living U.S. senator.

 

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Loisanne Foster

    Loisanne Foster

    January 10, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Republicans have changed. They have become radicalized to the right. Too bad. At least we have a clear choice these days. Sometimes in the past, it was hard to tell one party from the other!

  2. Cynthia Melendy

    Cynthia Melendy

    January 10, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    He lived in my home town.

  3. Bonnie Scoullar

    Bonnie Scoullar

    January 11, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Wow

  4. Tim DiBenedetti

    Tim DiBenedetti

    January 11, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Radicalized… Umm… Too much MSNBC maybe…. time to try another channel

  5. Tim DiBenedetti

    Tim DiBenedetti

    January 11, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Radicalized… Umm… Too much MSNBC maybe…. time to try another channel

  6. Joseph Joey M Armenti Jr.

    Joseph Joey M Armenti Jr.

    January 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    He was a very good Senator….

  7. Joseph Joey M Armenti Jr.

    Joseph Joey M Armenti Jr.

    January 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    He was a very good Senator….

  8. Pingback: Classic Movies Shot in New England, 13 Award-Winners - New England Historical Society

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