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Former GOP Sen. Edward Brooke Dies At 95

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And let's take a moment now to remember a senator who made history. Edward Brooke has died at age 95. In all the years of this republic, Edward Brooke was the first African-American elected to the Senate by popular vote. He did that in 1966. The very few African-Americans who were chosen in earlier generations had been chosen by state legislatures.

Brooke was born in Washington, D.C. During World War II, he earned a Bronze Star while serving as an officer in a black regiment of the segregated U.S. Army. After the war, Brooke settled in Boston. He became a lawyer. He was elected to the Senate as a Republican. He served two terms, and he cosponsored the Fair Housing Act of 1968 with a Democrat, Walter Mondale of Minnesota. That law banned discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity.

Now, Senator Brooke did not consider himself a civil rights leader, but in 2009 he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress's highest honor, in part for his example to later generations of African-American elected officials. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.