Hiram Rhodes Revels was born free in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on September 27, 1827. Educated in Indiana and Ohio, he graduated from Knox University in Illinois. Ordained in the African Methodist Episcopalian Church, Revels accepted a pastorate in Baltimore in 1860. He served as an army chaplain for a black regiment during the Civil War and helped establish schools for the freedpeople. After the War, Revels moved to Mississippi and worked to provide education to formerly enslaved blacks. In 1869 the Mississippi legislature elected him to the United States Senate, in which he was the first African American member. After holding the office from February 1870 to March 1871, Revels continued his dedication to education. He served as the first president of Alcorn University (now Alcorn State University) in Mississippi and later taught at Shaw University (since 1915 Rust College). Revels also edited the Southwestern Christian Advocate, the official newspaper of the AME Church from 1876 to 1882. He died in Aberdeen, Mississippi, on January 16, 1901.
Thompson, Julius. Hiram R. Revels, 1827–1901: A Biography. New York: Arno Press, 1982.
Ragsdale, Bruce A., and Joel D. Treese. Black Americans in Congress, 1870–1989, Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O., 1990, 129–131.