The First VP of Color

January 23, 1907. The Kansas legislature has convened to decide who will be the next US Senator from their state. The vote shakes out as everyone expected: front-runner Charles Curtis wins the seat. Curtis – a member of the Kaw Nation – has just become the first person of color elected to the Senate and will go on to rise even further as Vice President of the United States. This week, Kamala Harris follows Curtis as the second person of color to fill that seat. However, his legacy is a complicated one. How did Charles Curtis rise so high during an era that was arguably the height of American white supremacy? And what does his flawed political legacy tell us about the complexities of representation? 


Special thank you to our guest, Brett Chapman.


 

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