The first popularly elected black senator in US history, Edward W. Brooke, died in his home in Coral Gables, Florida on Saturday at the age of 95. According to Ralph Neas, a former aide to Brooke, he died of natural causes surrounded by his family.
In 1966 Brooke was elected to the Senate, becoming the first black since Reconstruction from any state to sit in that office, and one of only nine who have ever held that office in history, including Barack Obama.
When Obama was elected to the presidency in 2008 Brooke told the Associated Press that he was “thankful to God” to have lived to see such an historic event. When Brooke was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in October 2009, the highest recognition the Congress can bestow on civilians, President Obama was there. Obama declared that Brooke was
“a man who’s spent his life breaking barriers and bridging divides across this country.”
After Brooke’s death Obama said about Brooke that,
“During his time in elected office, he sought to build consensus and understanding across partisan lines, always working towards practical solutions to our nation’s challenges.”
Brooke was a liberal Republican from a mostly Democratic state, Massachusetts. During his 12 years in the Senate Brooke was on of that state’s most popular political personalities.
“Our party, commonwealth and nation are better for his service,” said Massachusetts Republican Governor-elect Charlie Baker.