Congress unveils portrait of first black congressman

(Washington-AP) Sept. 21, 2005 - A former South Carolina congressman had his portrait hung in the House of Representatives Thursday.

Joseph Rainey became the first black person elected to the House in 1870. He became the first to have his portrait hung in the House Wednesday.

The oil painting was unveiled before many members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and family descendants.

Rainey was born into slavery in 1832 and served in the House during the Reconstruction Era period of 1870 to 1879, when he worked to advance the civil rights of newly freed slaves.

Pennsylvania Congressman Chaka Fattah said the portrait corrects a situation where there are hundreds of portraits on the House side and not one reflects a person of color.

Rainey was one of a small number of blacks elected to seats representing parts of the former Confederacy after the Civil War.

Posted 7:55pm by Chantelle Janelle