Congressman Josiah Walls
One of the first African Americans elected to Congress during Reconstruction, Josiah Thomas Walls was born into slavery on December 30, 1842 in Winchester, Virginia. He was the first African American elected to congress from Florida. Walls served three terms in congress from 1871 – 1876 before the disenfranchisement laws that paralyzed the voting rights and power of African Americans fully took effect.
In part because of the unconstitutional disenfranchisement laws there would not be another African American congressman elected from Florida until the 1990’s. Josiah Walls died on May 15, 1905 in Tallahassee, Florida at age 62.