Hiram Rhodes Revels (September 27, 1827 – January 16, 1901) was the first African American to serve in the United States Senate. Because he preceded any African American in the House, he was the first African American in the U.S. Congress as well. He represented Mississippi in 1870 and 1871 during Reconstruction. As of 2011, Revels is one of only six African Americans ever to have served in the United States Senate.
Revels was born a free black in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to parents of mixed ancestry. He was tutored by a black woman for his early education. In 1838 he went to live with his brother, Elias B. Revels, in Lincolnton, North Carolina, and was apprenticed as a barber in his brother’s shop. Elias Revels died in 1841, and his widow Mary turned over her assets to Hiram before she remarried.