On this day April 2, 1856 John Mercer Langston became the 1st African American to hold an elected office in the United States becoming town clerk of Brownhelm, Ohio.

Born a Free man during slavery Langston was fortunate enough to have a white father who not only freed his mother but upon his death left an inheritance. John used this to travel and learn. Because of his color he wasn’t permitted to law school so he studied law himself and open a practice in Ohio.

John and his brothers were abolitionists.  They assisted runaway slaves to get to the underground railroad. During the Civil War they recruited Black troops for the Union and created the 1st Black troop “Massachusetts 54th” three years after the war he was instrumental in the 1870 decision. For Black Men to be able to vote.

Langston was the 1st African American Lawyer in the state of Ohio and the 1st African American to win a congressional election in Virginia. He was the 1st Dean of Howard university and was the Great uncle to play John Mercer Langston Hughes, professionally known as Langston Hughes.



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