December 30

December 30, 1842 –  Congressman Josiah Walls

Walls josiah

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.

First Colored Senator and Representatives

English: “First African American Senator and Representatives in the 41st and 42nd Congress of the United States.” (Left to right) Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi, Representatives Benjamin Turner of Alabama, Robert DeLarge of South Carolina, Josiah Walls of Florida, Jefferson Long of Georgia, Joseph Rainey and Robert B. Elliot of South Carolina.

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.