Black History Month: A congressional lesson

Since today is the last day of Black History Month, let’s have a black history quiz:

What do the following people have in common? (Chart from the Washington Post)


Yes, they are black. (Why else would they be in this quiz?) But they also represent a significant minority.

Of the 1,950 people who have served in the U.S. Senate, these nine are the only African Americans to hold a seat in the upper chamber of Congress.

Hyram Revels and Blanche Bruce were both senators from Mississippi who served during the post Civil War Reconstruction of the South from 1870-71 and 1875-1881, respectively. Both were appointed by the Mississippi State Legislature, but Bruce was the first black person for serve a full Senate term.

Edward Brooke (1967-1979) of Massachusetts was the first African American to win a Senate seat in a popular vote. The Bay State also was represented by Mo Cowan, who was appointed to the seat in 2013 to fill out the vacancy created by the appointment of John F. Kerry to the post of Secretary of State. Ed Markey now holds that seat.

Illinois has had three black senators, Carol Moseley Braun (1993-1999)), Barack Obama (2005-2008) and Roland Burris (2009-2010). Moseley Braun is the only African American to serve a full term as an Illinois senator. Obama … well, you know what happened to him. Burris was appointed to finish Obama’s term.

Tim Scott of South Carolina was appointed to the Senate in 2013 when Jim DeMint decided he was going to go to the Heritage Foundation to make a lot of money. It will be interesting to see what happens this year, when Scott faces a special election to complete the term. He’s only the third black person to represent a Southern state.

And Cory Booker of New Jersey was elected last year in a special election, but he runs again this year for a full term.

So, by the numbers, There have been five black Democrats and four black Republicans in the Senate. Three have been appointed. Two are up for re-election this year. And one became president.

An interesting countdown for such a tiny group.

Seattle: A city of law-abiding winners

These are Seattle fans, waiting for a traffic light to change so they could cross the street and celebrate their the Seahawks 2014 Super Bowl slaughter of the Denver Broncos.

These are Louisville fans, not caring what traffic lights are doing, as they celebrated the Cardinals 2013 NCAA Men’s basketball championship after beating the Michigan Wolverines.

In both cases, birds beat mammals.

But in this case, even as a Louisville resident, I have to admit Seattle looks like the more pleasant — and law abiding — place to be.

Christmas on the other side of the ocean: From David Sedaris

I remember when I first saw Santa’s Helpers in Brussels: white guys in black face.

I thought: That’s weird.

This is what they looked like:


I guess I should have been insulted, like everyone else appears to be all of a sudden. Which I find odd. I’ve known this European Christmas story for close to 10 years. Found it more entertaining than hearing about a obese guy living with his wife in a really cold place and commanding an army of pointy-eared little people dressed in green.

That seems pretty offensive, right?


Like if you had a choice between being accosted by this or by the black guys up higher, which one would freak you out the most?

And as a parent, I really wish I could have told my kid when he was little: “Look. You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town with a bunch of black guys, and they’re gonna kick your ass if don’t get your act together.”

But, really, I never saw Santa’s helpers beat up kids in Belgium. They never even looked funny at kids. All they did was smile.

And not just on the street. I was at a fancy restaurant in Brussels called La Quincallerie with my boss, who came from the states around the holiday. So we’re having a nice dinner, and a couple of Santa’s Helpers come in, raising money for charity. My boss looks at me, wondering how he should react, and I tell him the story of the Spanish Santa.

Probably didn’t resolve anything. But there was an internal logic to the story.

Unlike the fat guy with a bunch of flying caribou.

But if you want to see a really disturbing Christmas story (Really, don’t watch this if you don’t want to be offended. This is really vile. You have been warned):

I told you not to watch it. Makes the black guys look tame, right?

The Thanksgiving pardon

President Obama does the annual turkey pardon. Popcorn and Carmel live to see another day. The jokes aren’t too bad either.


Thanksgiving with the Addams family

Posting this “meaning of Thanksgiving” by Wednesday Addams is becoming my holiday tradition: