On this day in 1919, Edward Brooke, III, the first African-American to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Congress, was born.
He was a decorated veteran who spent five years as an officer in the segregated 366th Infantry Regiment and saw combat in Italy, graduated from the BU School of Law in 1948 and began practicing in Roxbury.
In 1966, after serving as the nation's first African-American state Attorney General, Brooke achieved another first: He became the first black person ever elected to the U. S. Senate by popular vote beating former governor Republican Endicott Peabody 58-42%.
In his two terms in the United States Senate, he worked for civil rights, fair housing, consumer protection, and arms limitation. When the Watergate scandal broke, he was the first senator to call on President Richard Nixon to resign.
It was not until Governor Patrick named William "Mo" Cowen WWWWC to fill out the rest of Senator Ted Kennedy's term on his death that the state had another black U.S. Senator.
Here's the beginning of the New York Times review of these two early indications of the authors' literary prowess.
Review: The Other Cape Cod Creatures
COMMON GROUND A Naturalist's Cape Cod, By Robert Finch, Drawings by Amanda Cannell, 142 pp. Boston: David R. Godine. $12.95.
SHALLOW WATERS A Year on Cape Cod's Pleasant Bay, By William Sargent, Illustrated, 138 pp. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. $17.95.
Both of these additions to Cape Cod literature deal with the birds, fish and animals that share the Cape's fragile ecology on any given summer day with 140,000 year-round human residents and up to three times that many vacationing tourists. Robert Finch, a naturalist, covers more territory, both geographically and philosophically, in ''Common Ground.'' His 32 essays, which originally appeared as nature columns in four Cape weeklies, reflect on the natural world of the 65-mile-long peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean like a flexed arm from the shoulder of the Massachusetts coastline. The scientific approach belongs to William Sargent, a marine biologist who uses the shallow waters of Pleasant Bay, at the elbow of the Cape, as a personal laboratory to illustrate his theme: the overriding importance of evolutionary strategy.
The difference between the two books is the difference between a microscope and a pair of binoculars, between an encyclopedia and a love letter...
Read the full review here.