Politics and Government

Political Parties and Politics

How have African Americans been involved in national committees of Democrats and Republicans?

Ron (Ronald) Harmon Brown (1941–1996) was named chair of the National Democratic Party in 1989, the first black to hold this office. In 1980 he was the first black American chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was spokesperson and deputy director of the Urban League’s Washington operations and worked in the offices of Senator Edward Kennedy.

In 2009 the Republican Party named Michael S. Steele (1958–) as head of the Republican National Committee, the first black to hold this post. A controversial figure, Steele was frequently at odds with members of his party. In January 2011 he announced that he would not seek reelection and left office. Steele was also the first African American to serve in a Maryland statewide office and the state’s first Republican lieutenant governor—a post created in 1970.


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