First Black Man To Become a Lawyer in 1854


John Mercer Langston’s career as a North American 19th-century Black activist, writer, attorney, politician and diplomat was nothing short of remarkable. Langston’s mission to help Black Americans become full citizens spanned the fight for freedom of enslaved people to establishing a law school at Howard University.


  • Elected township clerk in Brownhelm, Ohio–becoming the first Black American to hold an elected office in the United States
  • First Black American to be elected to Congress in 1888.
  • Assisted in the development of Howard University’s law school and served as its dean.
  • Served as the first president of Virginia State University.


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