Contemporary African American History

Politically and economically, blacks have made substantial strides during the post-civil rights era. In 1989, Douglas Wilder became the first African-American elected governor in U.S. history. There are currently two black governors serving concurrently; governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and governor David Paterson of New York. Clarence Thomas became the second African-American Supreme Court Justice.In 1992 Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois became the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate. There were 8,936 black officeholders in the United States in 2000, showing a net increase of 7,467 since 1970. In 2001 there were 484 black mayors.

On November 4, 2008, Democratic Senator Barack Obama defeated Republican Senator John McCain to become the first African American to be elected President. At least 95 percent of African-American voters voted for Obama. He also received overwhelming support from young and educated whites, a majority of Asians, Hispanics, and Native Americans picking up a number of new states in the Democratic electoral column.

Obama lost the overall white vote, although he won a larger proportion of white votes than any previous nonincumbent Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter. The following year Michael S. Steele was elected the first African-American chairman of the national Republican Party.

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