Edward Brooke: Wikis


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Edward Brooke

In office
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1979
Preceded by Leverett Saltonstall
Succeeded by Paul Tsongas

In office
Preceded by Edward J. McCormack, Jr.
Succeeded by Elliot L. Richardson

Born October 26, 1919 (1919-10-26) (age 90)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Anne Brooke (b. 1948)
Alma mater Howard University (B.A.)
Boston University School of Law (LL.B.)
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1941-1946
Rank US-O3 insignia.svg Captain
Unit 366 cres.gif 366th Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars World War II

Edward William Brooke, III (born October 26, 1919), is an American politician and was the first African American to be elected by popular vote to the United States Senate when he was elected as a Republican from Massachusetts in 1966, defeating his Democratic opponent, Endicott Peabody, 60.7%–38.7%. He was also the first African American elected to the Senate since the 19th century, and would remain the only person of African heritage sent to the Senate in the 20th century until Democrat Carol Moseley Braun in 1993, and would remain the last Republican Senator from Massachusetts until the 2010 election of Scott Brown.


Early years

Brooke was born in Washington, D.C. in 1919. Upon his graduation from Howard University in 1941, he spent five years as an officer in the Army, and saw combat in Italy during World War II as a member of the segregated 366th Infantry Regiment. Following his discharge, he graduated from Boston University Law School in 1948.

The following year, he ran for a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, but lost. He then made two more tries for office, including one for secretary of state, but again fell short in 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, Edward Brooke became the first elected African American Attorney General of any state in American history. In this position, he gained a reputation as a vigorous prosecutor of organized crime, and coordinated with local police departments on the Boston strangler case.[1] He was portrayed in the 1968 film dramatizing the case by William Marshall.

U.S. Senator

Brooke served as a U.S. senator for two terms, from January 3, 1967, to January 3, 1979. In 1967, he served on the President's Commission on Civil Disorders. 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 New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller's bid for the 1968 GOP presidential nomination against Nixon's, often differed with President Richard Nixon 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 the Minnesota Democrat, he co-authored the 1968 Fair Housing Act which President Johnson signed into law on April 11, one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.. 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, as of 2008.

Richard M. Nixon (center), then a former Vice President of the United States, campaigns in Massachusetts in the 1966 mid-term elections for U.S. Senate nominee Edward Brooke (left) and Governor John A. Volpe.

During the Nixon years, Brooke opposed repeated Administration attempts to close down the Job Corps and the Office of Economic Opportunity and to weaken the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission--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, Clement Haynsworth. 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.

In 1970, the Senate adopted his resolution prohibiting tests of MIRV missiles.

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". 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.

Senator Edward Brooke meeting with President Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office shortly after taking office in the Senate in 1967.

In 1974, with Indiana senator Birch Bayh, he led the fight to retain Title IX 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 at stake, Brooke faced senator John Stennis (D-Mississippi) in "extended debate" and won the Senate's support for the extension.

In 1976, he also took on the role of champion for a woman's right to an abortion. The Appropriations bill for HHS became the battleground over this issue because it funds Medicaid. 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, 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.[2]

Post-Senate life

After leaving the Senate, Brooke practiced law in Washington, D.C., and served as chairman of the board of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

In 1996, he became the first chairman of the World Policy Council, a think tank of Alpha Phi Alpha 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 and was honorary chairman at the Centennial Convention of Alpha Phi Alpha held in Washington, D.C., in 2006.[3]

Edward Brooke is congratulated by President George W. Bush at the Ceremony for the 2004 Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, The East Room of the White House.

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.[4]

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Edward Brooke on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[5]

In September 2002, he was diagnosed with breast cancer and, since then, has assumed a national role in raising awareness of the disease among men.[6]

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."

On April 29, 2006, the Massachusetts Republican Party awarded the first annual "Edward Brooke Award" to former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card at their 2006 State Convention.

Two days after his 90th birthday, Brooke was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal on October 28, 2009.[7]

Personal life

The father of two daughters and a son, Brooke currently lives in Miami with his second wife, Anne. His first wife, the mother of his daughters, was an Italian war bride.

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.[8] When asked for a comment, Mr. Brooke declined, stating a credo that saw him through his political career: namely, that he does not talk about his or other people's private lives.[9]


  • John F. Becker and Eugene E. Heaton, Jr., "The Election of Senator Edward W. Brooke," Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Autumn, 1967), pp. 346–358
  • Edward Brooke (2006), Bridging The Divide: My Life. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3905-6.
  • Edward Brooke (1966), The Challenge of Change: Crisis in our Two-Party System. Little, Brown, Boston.
  • John Henry Cutler(1972), Ed Brooke: Biography of a Senator. Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis.
  • Judson L. Jeffries, U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke and Governor L. Douglas Wilder Tell Political Scientists How Blacks Can Win High-Profile Statewide Office, American Political Science Association, 1999.
  • Timothy N. Thurber, Virginia Commonwealth University, "Goldwaterism Triumphant?: Race and the Debate Among Republicans over the Direction of the GOP, 1964-1968.” Paper presented at the 2006 Conference of the Historical Society, Chapel Hill, NC. http://www.bu.edu/historic/06conf_papers/Thurber.pdf
  • Barbara Walters (2008), Audition: A Memoir. Random House. ISBN 978-0307266460.


  1. ^ Boston Strangler coordination: WBUR interview
  2. ^ Jacobs, Sally. "The unfinished chapter" Boston Globe, March 5, 2000.
  3. ^ Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. (2005). Alpha Phi Alpha Men: "A Century of Leadership. [Video]. Rubicon Productions. 
  4. ^ Dedication of the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse, a news release from Boston University
  5. ^ Asante, Molefi Kete (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Amherst, New York. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-963-8.
  6. ^ Clementson, Lynette (2003-06-10). "Surprise Role for Ex-Senator: Male Breast Cancer Patient". New York Times. http://www.ibca.net/online_resources/edward_brooke.php. 
  7. ^ "Former senator awarded Congressional Gold Medal". CNN. 2009-10-28. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/10/28/congressional.medal/. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  8. ^ Jo Piazza (2008-05-01). "Barbara Walters: I had an affair with married Senator Edward Brooke". New York Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2008/05/01/2008-05-01_barbara_walters_i_had_an_affair_with_Marchhtml. Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  9. ^ Frazier Moore (2008-05-02). "Former Sen. Brooke mum on reported Barbara Walters affair". Associated Press. http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2008May02/0,4670,TVWaltersAffair,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 


External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Edward McCormack
Attorney General of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Elliot Richardson
United States Senate
Preceded by
Leverett Saltonstall
United States Senator (Class 2) from Massachusetts
Served alongside: Ted Kennedy
Succeeded by
Paul Tsongas
Party political offices
Preceded by
Leverett Saltonstall
Republican nominee for United States Senator from Massachusetts
(Class 2)

1966, 1972, 1978
Succeeded by
Ray Shamie


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