Edward W. Brooke, the first black U.S. senator to be popularly elected, died on Saturday at age 95. Brooke was the first African American to serve in the Senate since the end of Reconstruction (senators were then elected by state legislatures, not voters). Brooke received a standing ovation in 1967 when he was sworn in to represent Massachusetts as a Republican. President Nixon offered him the posts of secretary of Housing and Urban Development, secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, and ambassador to the United Nations. Brooke was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004.
President Obama said he and his wife were saddened at the death of Brooke. "As the first African-American elected as a state's Attorney General and first African-American U.S. Senator elected after reconstruction, Ed Brooke stood at the forefront of the battle for civil rights and economic fairness," the president said in a statement released by the White House. "During his time in elected office, he sought to build consensus and understanding across partisan lines, always working towards practical solutions to our nation's challenges."
He is survived by his wife, Anne Fleming, two daughters and one son.