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On this date in 1919, Edward Brooke, a Black politician and author, was born in Washington, D.C.
His father, Edward W. Brooke Jr., was a lawyer with the Veterans Administration. His mother was the former Helen Seldon. The Brookes were comfortably middle class. Brooke graduated from Howard University in 1941. During World War II, he served in the Army infantry. He rose to the rank of captain, saw combat in Italy, and was awarded a Bronze Star. While in Italy, he met Remigia Ferrari-Scacco. They married in 1947.
Admitted to the bar in 1948, he served as attorney general of Massachusetts from 1963 to 1966, where he was a vigorous prosecutor of organized crime. That same year he was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate, the first Black senator since Reconstruction. Brooke served on the President's Commission on Civil Disorders in 1967, which investigated the causes of race riots in American cities. In 1969, Brooke was a leader of the bipartisan coalition that defeated the Senate confirmation of the president's nominee to the Supreme Court, Clement F. Haynsworth, Jr., of South Carolina. A few months later, he again organized sufficient Republican support to defeat Nixon's second Supreme Court nominee, George Harrold Carswell of Florida.
After leaving the Senate in 1979, he headed the National Low-income Housing Coalition. In 1996, he became the first chairman of Alpha Phi Alpha's World Policy Council, a think tank whose purpose is to expand the fraternity's involvement in politics, and social and current policy to encompass international concerns. Brooke served as the council's chairman emeritus and was honorary chairman at the Centennial Convention of the fraturnity held in Washington, D.C., in 2006. On June 20, 2000, a newly constructed Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston, was dedicated in his honor. He was the author of "The Challenge of Change" (1966).
In September 2002, he was diagnosed with breast cancer and assumed a national role in raising awareness of the disease among men. In 2004, Brooke was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom 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."
Brooke was a resident of Warrenton, Virginia. In 2008, Barbara Walters 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. Edward Brooke died on January 3, 2015. The father of two daughters and a son, Brooke lived in Miami with his second wife, Anne.
Black Americans in Congress, 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990