Obama honors 1st African-American elected to US Senate, Edward Brooke

Was2676651US President Barack Obama paid tribute on Wednesday to fellow political trailblazer Edward Brooke, who in 1966 became the first African-American elected to the Senate by popular vote.  In the US Capitol rotunda, Obama presented Brooke, 90, with the Congressional gold medal, the highest civilian award given by the government’s legislative branch.

“Today’s honor bears a unique significance: bestowed by this body of which he was an esteemed member; presented in this place where he moved the arc of history; surrounded by so many — myself included — who have followed the trail that he blazed,” said Obama as he stood next to the former senator from Massachusetts.

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Pictured: Former Senator Edward William Brooke (R) is presented with the Congressional Gold Medal as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (L), D-CA, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(2nd-L), D-NV, and US President Barack Obama look on October 28, 2009 in the Rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Brooke was the first African American to be elected to the Senate by popular vote. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)