Edward Brooke, the Massachusetts Republican who was the first African-American to be popularly elected to the US Senate, died on Saturday at the age of 95, the state Republican Party said.
Brooke was Massachusetts attorney general when he was elected to the US Senate in 1966, at a time when the country was gripped by racial unrest.
Before his election, there were two other African-American senators shortly after the Civil War. But until early in the 20th century, senators were picked by state legislatures and not by popular vote.
In the Senate, Brooke joined a small band of liberal Republicans who often went against the wishes of the Republican president, Richard Nixon.
Brooke opposed the buildup of troops in Vietnam, and later in the middle of the Watergate scandal, he became the first Republican senator to call for Nixon to resign.
He was re-elected in 1972 by an almost 2-1 margin. But by the time he ran for a third term in 1978, he was involved in a public divorce proceeding. And questions were raised about a sworn statement he made regarding a $49,000 loan that he later admitted was a “misstatement and a mistake.”
His popularity plummeted and he was defeated by Democrat Paul Tsongas by 55 to 41 per cent.
Brooke was born in Washington, DC, on Oct 26, 1919. His father was an attorney for the Veterans Administration.