Former US Senator Edward W. Brooke dies at 95

Mark Feeney
The Boston Globe

Edward W. Brooke, the Massachusetts Republican who was the first African-American to be elected to the US Senate since Reconstruction, died today, according to Kirsten Hughes, chairwoman of the Massachusetts Republican Party. He was 95.

Mr. Brooke served in the Senate from 1967-1979. Elected attorney general in 1962 and reelected two years later, he was the first African-American to hold that office in any state…

…Mr. Brooke’s eminence had a paradoxical aspect. What made him such a figure of racial progress wasn’t his emphasizing race but transcending it. He had no choice: The year he was elected attorney general only 2 percent of Massachusetts voters were black. One of his most-publicized actions as attorney general was ruling illegal an NAACP-sponsored boycott of Boston public schools. “I am not a civil rights leader and I don’t profess to be one,” he once said. “I can’t serve just the Negro cause. I’ve got to serve all the people of Massachusetts.”…

…Edward William Brooke III was born on Oct. 26, 1919. His father, Edward W. Brooke Jr., was a lawyer with the Veterans Administration. His mother was the former Helen Seldon. The Brookes were comfortably middle class. “It would make a better story if some white man had kicked me or yelled ‘nigger,’ ” Mr. Brooke once noted, “but it just never happened. I grew up segregated, but there was not much feeling of being shut out of anything.”

Mr. Brooke graduated from Howard University in 1941. During World War II, he served in the Army infantry. He rose to the rank of captain, saw combat in Italy, and was awarded a Bronze Star. While in Italy, he met Remigia Ferrari-Scacco. They married in 1947. Mr. Brooke had been stationed at Fort Devens prior to shipping overseas and liked what he’d seen of the area. In addition, two Army buddies from Boston urged him to relocate here. He enrolled at Boston University School of Law in 1946. “I never studied much at Howard,” he said in a 1966 interview, “but at Boston University I didn’t do much else but study.” He was editor of the law review and graduated in 1948. Mr. Brooke set up a one-man practice in Roxbury…



The complete obituary is at The Boston Globe.






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