Edward Brooke
Edward William Brooke, III (born October 26, 1919) is an American politician and was elected to the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 as a Republican from Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 in 1966, defeating his Democratic opponent, Endicott Peabody
Endicott Peabody
Endicott "Chub" Peabody was the 62nd Governor of Massachusetts from January 3, 1963 to January 7, 1965.-Early life:...

, 60.7%–38.7%. He was also the first African American elected to the Senate since the 19th century, when selection came from state legislatures, and would remain the only person of African heritage sent to the Senate in the 20th century until Democrat Carol Moseley Braun
Carol Moseley Braun
Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun is an American feminist politician and lawyer who represented Illinois in the United States Senate from 1993 to 1999. She was the first and to date only African-American woman elected to the United States Senate, the first woman to defeat an incumbent senator in an...

 of Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 in 1993, and was the last Republican Senator elected from Massachusetts until the 2010 election of Scott Brown
Scott Brown
Scott Brown is a United States senator.Scott Brown may also refer to:-Sportsmen:*Scott Brown , American college football coach of Kentucky State...

. He is also the only African American reelected to the Senate. Since the death of Charles H. Percy
Charles H. Percy
Charles Harting "Chuck" Percy was president of the Bell & Howell Corporation from 1949 to 1964. He was elected United States Senator from Illinois in 1966, re-elected through his term ending in 1985; he concentrated on business and foreign relations...

 on September 17, 2011, Brooke is the second-oldest living and oldest living Republican Senator.

Early years

Brooke was born in Washington, D.C., in 1919 and attended Dunbar High School
Dunbar High School (Washington, D.C.)
Dunbar High School is a public secondary school located in Washington, D.C., United States. The school is located in the Truxton Circle neighborhood of Northwest Washington, two blocks from the intersection of New Jersey and New York Avenues...

. Upon his graduation from Howard University
Howard University
Howard University is a federally chartered, non-profit, private, coeducational, nonsectarian, historically black university located in Washington, D.C., United States...

 in 1941, he spent five years as an officer in the Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and saw combat in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 during World War II as a member of the segregated 366th Infantry Regiment
U.S. 366th Infantry Regiment
The 366th Infantry Regiment was an all African American unit of the United States Army that served with distinction in both World War I and World War II. The unit was unique because it was one of the few Negro units with all its own officers and personnel; the U.S...

, earning a Bronze Star. In Italy he met his future wife Remigia Ferrari-Scacco, with whom he had two daughters, Remi and Edwina. Following Brooke's discharge, he graduated from the Boston University School of Law
Boston University School of Law
Boston University School of Law is the law school affiliated with Boston University, and is ranked #22 among American law schools by US News and World Report magazine. It is the second-oldest law school in Massachusetts and one of the first law schools in the country to admit students regardless...

 in 1948. In 1950 Brooke ran for a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives
Massachusetts House of Representatives
The Massachusetts House of Representatives is the lower house of the Massachusetts General Court, the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is composed of 160 members elected from single-member electoral districts across the Commonwealth. Representatives serve two-year terms...

, but lost. He then made two more tries for office, including one for secretary of state
Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth
The Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth is the principal public information officer of the state government of the U.S...

, but lost both races.

He was the chairman of Finance Commission of Boston from 1961 to 1962. Brooke was elected Attorney General of Massachusetts in 1962 and re-elected in 1964. In so doing, he became the first elected African-American Attorney General of any state in American history. In this position, Brooke gained a reputation as a vigorous prosecutor of organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

, and coordinated with local police departments on the Boston strangler
Boston Strangler
The Boston Strangler is a name attributed to the murderer of several women in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, in the early 1960s. Though the crimes were attributed to Albert DeSalvo, investigators of the case have since suggested the murders were not committed by one person.-First Stage...

 case, although the press mocked him for permitting an alleged psychic to participate in the investigation. Brooke was portrayed in the 1968 film dramatizing the case
The Boston Strangler (film)
The Boston Strangler is a 1968 film based on the true story of the Boston Strangler and the book by Gerold Frank. It was directed by Richard Fleischer, and stars Tony Curtis as Albert DeSalvo, the strangler, and Henry Fonda as John S...

 by William Marshall.

U.S. Senator

In 1966
United States Senate election in Massachusetts, 1966
The United States Senate election of 1966 in Massachusetts was held on November 8, 1966 with Republican State Attorney General Edward Brooke defeating his challengers. Republican incumbent, Leverett Saltonstall, was retiring after serving for 22 years....

 Brooke defeated former Governor
Governor of Massachusetts
The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the executive magistrate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, United States. The current governor is Democrat Deval Patrick.-Constitutional role:...

 Endicott Peabody
Endicott Peabody
Endicott "Chub" Peabody was the 62nd Governor of Massachusetts from January 3, 1963 to January 7, 1965.-Early life:...

 with 1,213,473 votes to 744,761, and served as a United States Senator for two terms, from January 3, 1967, to January 3, 1979. The black vote had "no measurable bearing" on the election as less than 3% of the state's population was black, and Peabody also supported civil rights for blacks. Brooke stated "I do not intend to be a national leader of the Negro people", and "condemned both Stokely Carmichael
Stokely Carmichael
Kwame Ture , also known as Stokely Carmichael, was a Trinidadian-American black activist active in the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. He rose to prominence first as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and later as the "Honorary Prime Minister" of the Black Panther Party...

 and Georgia's Lester Maddox
Lester Maddox
Lester Garfield Maddox was an American politician who was the 75th Governor of the U.S. state of Georgia from 1967 to 1971....

" as extremists; nonetheless, his historic election gave Brooke "a 50-state constituency, a power base that no other Senator can claim." In 1967, he served on the President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

's Commission on Civil Disorders
Kerner Commission
The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission after its chair, Governor Otto Kerner, Jr. of Illinois, was an 11-member commission established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the causes of the 1967 race riots in the United States and to provide...

. He was a member of the liberal wing of the Republican Party and organized the Senate's "Wednesday Club" of progressive Republicans who met for Wednesday lunches and strategy discussions. Brooke, who had supported Michigan Governor George W. Romney
George W. Romney
George Wilcken Romney was an American businessman and Republican Party politician. He was chairman and CEO of American Motors Corporation from 1954 to 1962, the 43rd Governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, and the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1969 to 1973...

and then New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller
Nelson Rockefeller
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller was the 41st Vice President of the United States , serving under President Gerald Ford, and the 49th Governor of New York , as well as serving the Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower administrations in a variety of positions...

's bids for the 1968 GOP presidential nomination against Nixon's, often differed with President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 on matters of social policy and civil rights.

By his second year in the Senate, Brooke had taken his place as a leading advocate against discrimination in housing and on behalf of affordable housing. With fellow Senate Banking Committee Member, Walter Mondale
Walter Mondale
Walter Frederick "Fritz" Mondale is an American Democratic Party politician, who served as the 42nd Vice President of the United States , under President Jimmy Carter, and as a United States Senator for Minnesota...

 the Minnesota Democrat, he co-authored the 1968 Fair Housing Act
Civil Rights Act of 1968
On April 11, 1968 U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 is commonly known as the Fair Housing Act, or as CRA '68, and was meant as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964...

 which President Johnson signed into law on April 11, one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

. Dissatisfied with the weakened enforcement provisions that emerged from the legislative process, Brooke repeatedly proposed stronger provisions during his Senate career. In 1969, Congress enacted the "Brooke Amendment" to the federal publicly assisted housing program which limited the tenants' out-of-pocket rent expenditure to 25 percent of his or her income. By the 1990s, the percentage had gradually increased, but the principle of limiting the housing 'burden' of
very-low income renters survives in statute, .
During the Nixon years, Brooke opposed repeated Administration attempts to close down the Job Corps
Job Corps
Job Corps is a program administered by the United States Department of Labor that offers free-of-charge education and vocational training to youth ages 16 to 24.-Mission and purpose:...

 and the Office of Economic Opportunity and to weaken the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is an independent federal law enforcement agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. The EEOC investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, perceived intelligence,...

--all foundational elements of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.

In 1969, Brooke was a leader of the bipartisan coalition that defeated the Senate confirmation of the President's nominee to the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

, Clement Haynsworth
Clement Haynsworth
Clement Furman Haynsworth, Jr. was a United States judge and an unsuccessful nominee for the United States Supreme Court....

. A few months later, he again organized sufficient Republican support to defeat Nixon's second Supreme Court nominee Harrold Carswell. Nixon then turned to Harry A. Blackmun, later the author of Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...


In 1970, the Senate adopted his resolution prohibiting tests of MIRV missiles
Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle
A multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle warhead is a collection of nuclear weapons carried on a single intercontinental ballistic missile or a submarine-launched ballistic missile . Using a MIRV warhead, a single launched missile can strike several targets, or fewer targets redundantly...


Despite Brooke's disagreements with Nixon, the president reportedly respected the senator's abilities; after Nixon's election
United States presidential election, 1968
The United States presidential election of 1968 was the 46th quadrennial United States presidential election. Coming four years after Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson won in a historic landslide, it saw Johnson forced out of the race and Republican Richard Nixon elected...

 he had offered to make Brooke a member of his cabinet, or ambassador to the UN
United States Ambassador to the United Nations
The United States Ambassador to the United Nations is the leader of the U.S. delegation, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The position is more formally known as the "Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador...

. The press discussed Brooke as a possible replacement for Spiro Agnew
Spiro Agnew
Spiro Theodore Agnew was the 39th Vice President of the United States , serving under President Richard Nixon, and the 55th Governor of Maryland...

 as Nixon's running mate in the 1972 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1972
The United States presidential election of 1972 was the 47th quadrennial United States presidential election. It was held on November 7, 1972. The Democratic Party's nomination was eventually won by Senator George McGovern, who ran an anti-war campaign against incumbent Republican President Richard...

. While Nixon retained Agnew, Brooke was re-elected in 1972, defeating Democrat John J. Droney 62%–34%.

Before the first year of his second term ended, Brooke became the first Republican to call on President Nixon to resign, on November 4, 1973, shortly after the Watergate-related "Saturday night massacre
Saturday night massacre
The "Saturday Night Massacre" was the term given by political commentators to U.S. President Richard Nixon's executive dismissal of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, and the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus on October 20,...

". He had risen to become the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee and on two powerful Appropriations subcommittees, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Foreign Operations. From these positions, Brooke defended and strengthened the programs he identified with; for example, he was a leader in enactment of the Equal Credit Act which ensured married women the right to credit of their own.
In 1974, with Indiana senator Birch Bayh
Birch Bayh
Birch Evans Bayh II is a former United States Senator from Indiana, having served from 1963 to 1981. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in the 1976 election, but lost to Jimmy Carter. He is the father of former Indiana Governor and former U.S. Senator Evan Bayh.-Life...

, he led the fight to retain Title IX
Title IX
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a United States law, enacted on June 23, 1972, that amended Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 2002 it was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, in honor of its principal author Congresswoman Mink, but is most...

 of the 1972 Education Act which guarantees equal educational opportunity to girls and women.

In 1975, with the extension and expansion of the Voting Rights Act
Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S....

 at stake, Brooke faced senator John Stennis (D-Mississippi) in "extended debate" and won the Senate's support for the extension. The press again speculated on his possible candidacy for the Vice Presidency as Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

's running mate in 1976
United States presidential election, 1976
The United States presidential election of 1976 followed the resignation of President Richard Nixon in the wake of the Watergate scandal. It pitted incumbent President Gerald Ford, the Republican candidate, against the relatively unknown former governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, the Democratic...

, with Time calling him an "able legislator and a staunch party loyalist".

In 1976, he also took on the role of champion for a woman's right to choose whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy
Support for the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-choice movement, a sociopolitical movement supporting the ethical view that a woman should have the legal right to elective abortion, meaning the right to terminate her pregnancy....

. The Appropriations bill for HHS became the battleground over this issue because it funds Medicaid
Medicaid is the United States health program for certain people and families with low incomes and resources. It is a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and is managed by the states. People served by Medicaid are U.S. citizens or legal permanent...

. The foes of abortion rights fought, eventually successfully, to prohibit funding for abortions of low-income women insured by Medicaid. Brooke led the fight against restrictions in the Senate Appropriations Committee and in the House-Senate Conference until his defeat.

In Massachusetts, Brooke's support among Catholics weakened, and during the 1978 re-election campaign
United States Senate election in Massachusetts, 1978
The United States Senate election of 1978 in Massachusetts was held on November 7, 1978 with the incumbent Republican Senator Edward Brooke being defeated by then Democratic Congressman Paul E. Tsongas.-Republican:...

, the state's bishops spoke in opposition to his leading role, in spite of the equally pro-choice position of his Democratic opponent. In addition, he was challenged in the Republican primary by a conservative talk show host, Avi Nelson. Most seriously, Brooke "confessed that he had made a false statement about his finances in his divorce deposition. The admission...erupted into a staccato of charges that ultimately cost him his Senate seat" to Paul Tsongas
Paul Tsongas
Paul Efthemios Tsongas was a United States Senator from Massachusetts from 1979 to 1985. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 1992 presidential election. He previously served as a U.S...


Post-Senate life

After leaving the Senate, Brooke practiced law in Washington, D.C., partner O'Connor & Hannan; of counsel, Csaplar & Bok, Boston and served as chairman of the board of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In 1984 he became chairman of the Boston Bank of Commerce, and one year later he was named to the board of directors of Grumman. In 1996, he became the first chairman of the World Policy Council
World Policy Council
The World Policy Council of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity is a nonprofit and nonpartisan think tank established in 1996 at Howard University to expand the fraternity's involvement in politics and social and current policy to encompass important global and world issues...

, a think tank
Think tank
A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...

 of Alpha Phi Alpha
Alpha Phi Alpha
Alpha Phi Alpha is the first Inter-Collegiate Black Greek Letter fraternity. It was founded on December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Its founders are known as the "Seven Jewels". Alpha Phi Alpha developed a model that was used by the many Black Greek Letter Organizations ...

 whose purpose is to expand the fraternity's involvement in politics, and social and current policy to encompass international concerns. Brooke currently serves as the council's chairman emeritus
Emeritus is a post-positive adjective that is used to designate a retired professor, bishop, or other professional or as a title. The female equivalent emerita is also sometimes used.-History:...

 and was honorary chairman at the Centennial Convention of Alpha Phi Alpha held in Washington, D.C., in 2006.
On June 20, 2000, a newly constructed Boston courthouse was dedicated in his honor. The Edward W. Brooke Courthouse is part of the Massachusetts Trial Court system, and houses the central division of the Boston Municipal Court, Boston Juvenile Court, Family Court, and Boston Housing Court, among others.

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante
Molefi Kete Asante
Molefi Kete Asante is an African-American scholar, historian, and philosopher. He is a leading figure in the fields of African American studies, African Studies and Communication Studies...

 listed Edward Brooke on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans
100 Greatest African Americans
100 Greatest African Americans is a biographical dictionary of the one hundred historically greatest African Americans , as assessed by Molefi Kete Asante in 2002.-Criteria:...


In September 2002, he was diagnosed with breast cancer
Male breast cancer
Male breast cancer is a relatively rare cancer in men that originates from the breast. As it presents a similar pathology as female breast cancer, assessment and treatment relies on experiences and guidelines that have been developed in female patients. The optimal treatment is currently not...

 and, since then, has assumed a national role in raising awareness of the disease among men.

In 2004, Brooke was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

 – designed to recognize individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." On April 29, 2006, the Massachusetts Republican Party
Massachusetts Republican Party
The Massachusetts Republican Party is the Massachusetts branch of the United States Republican Party. Governance of the party takes the form of a State Committee which, in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 52, consists of one man and one woman from each of the 40 Senate Districts...

 awarded the first annual "Edward Brooke Award" to former White House Chief of Staff
White House Chief of Staff
The White House Chief of Staff is the highest ranking member of the Executive Office of the President of the United States and a senior aide to the President.The current White House Chief of Staff is Bill Daley.-History:...

 Andrew Card
Andrew Card
Andrew Hill Card, Jr. is a Republican American politician, former United States Cabinet member, and head of President George W. Bush's White House Iraq Group. Card served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President George H. W. Bush and the White House Chief of Staff under George W. Bush...

 at their 2006 State Convention.

Two days after his 90th birthday, Brooke was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal on October 28, 2009.

The Edward W. Brooke Charter School was founded in Boston in 2002.

Personal life

In 2008, Barbara Walters
Barbara Walters
Barbara Jill Walters is an American broadcast journalist, author, and television personality. She has hosted morning television shows , the television newsmagazine , former co-anchor of the ABC Evening News, and current contributor to ABC News.Walters was first known as a popular TV morning news...

 revealed in her memoir Audition that she'd had an affair lasting several years with Brooke during the 1970s, while Brooke was married to his first wife. Walters said that the affair ended to protect both of their careers from possible scandal. Brooke has not commented on the claim.


External links

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