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  • Black History Month

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and wife Michelle wave to supporters during an election-night rally at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., June 3, 2008. Obama made history June 3, 2008, capturing the Democratic presidential nomination as the first black candidate to top a major-party ticket, after a giant-slaying win over Hillary Clinton.
    Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
  • Black History Month

    In March 17, 2008, New York Lt. Gov. David Paterson was sworn in to become first African-American governor of New York. Thrust into power after Eliot Spitzer's prostitution scandal forced him to resign, Paterson, whose term has also been laced with personal scandal, continues to struggle to win over the Democratic Party and the citizens of New York. Paterson is pictured here with his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, at the state Capitol building in Albany, N.Y.
    Keith Bedford/Reuters
  • Black History Month

    In 2001, Condoleezza Rice was asked to serve as national security adviser to President George W. Bush. As the first black American in this position, Rice's role in shaping foreign policy became increasingly important, most notably after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Four years later, upon the resignation of Colin Powell, Rice became secretary of state. She was the first African-American woman, second African-American -- after Powell -- and second woman after Madeleine Albright, to serve in the critical post. Here, then National Security Adviser Rice conducts a background briefing on the upcoming visit of British Prime Minister Tony Blair Feb. 22, 2001, at the White House in Washington.
    Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
  • Black History Month

    Democrat Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois in 1992 became the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. "I cannot escape the fact that I come to the Senate as a symbol of hope and change," Moseley-Braun said shortly after she was sworn in in 1993. Pictured here, Braun declares her victory Nov. 3, 1992, in Chicago. She was not re-elected in 1998. While Braun was the first black woman elected to the Senate, in 1966 Republican Edward Brooke of Massachusetts became the first African-American to be elected to the Senate by popular vote.
    Brian Bahr/AFP/Getty Images
  • Black History Month

    Clarence Thomas, wife Virginia Lamp Thomas, and Justice Byron R. White at Thomas' ceremony to be sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court justice Oct. 18, 1991. One of the most well-known justices, perhaps because of his highly publicized 1991 confirmation hearings that he famously dubbed a "high-tech lynching," Thomas proceeded Thurgood Marshall to become the second black justice to serve the high court.
    Michael Jenkins/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images
  • Black History Month

    L. Douglas Wilder is sworn in as the 66th governor of Virginia during a ceremony outside the Capitol in Richmond Jan. 13, 1990. Wilder became the first elected black governor in the United States. Wilder sought the presidential nomination in 1991, running on a centrist ticket, but he failed to raise adequate funds and withdrew from the race before the primary season ended.
    Ken Bennett/AP Photo
  • Black History Month

    In 1989, General Colin Powell was nominated by President George H.W. Bush as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, becoming the first African-American to attain the highest military ranking in the U.S. Armed Forces. Powell, the 12th chairman of the JCS, is pictured here. From left to right, Marine Gen. Alfred M. Gray; Army Gen. Carl Edward Vuono; Navy Adm. Carlisle A.H. Trost; Air Force Gen. Larry D. Welch; and Air Force Gen. Robert T. Herres. In 2001, he was appointed secretary of state, again becoming the first African-American to hold such a post.
    Robert D. Ward/U.S. Department of Defense/AP Photo
  • Black History Month

    Shirley Chisholm was the first American-American woman elected to Congress, where she represented New York's 12th congressional district from 1969 to 1983. On Jan. 25, 1972, Chisholm announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination at the Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton applauds at right. While she did not succeed in winning the nomination, she did receive 152 delegate votes at the Democratic National Convention in 1972, an impressive count given her modest fundraising total.
    Don Hogan Charles/New York Times Co./Getty Images
  • Black History Month

    Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall receives some help from wife, Cecilia Marshall, at his swearing-in on Oct. 2, 1967. Formerly an NAACP attorney, Marshall became the first black justice to sit on the Supreme Court. While Marshall had an extensive legacy on the high court, perhaps his most significant victory came before he was a judge, successfully arguing to end the legal separation of black and white children in the public school system in the landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954. This ruling later sparked the 1960s civil rights movement and had a profound effect on race relations in America.
    Henry Griffin/AP Photo
  • Black History Month

    Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Aug. 28, 1963, on the Mall in Washington, during the March on Washington. A transformational figure in the civil rights movement, King spoke to more than 200,000 people from the Lincoln Memorial, making a famous speech about racial harmony whose enduring first words were "I have a dream."
    AFP/Getty Images
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