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Dunn’s Civics > Black History > Resisting the Badges of Slavery

John Mercer Langston

John Mercer Langston 1829 – 1897, was the first Black Lawyer and public official (Brownhelm Township) in America.  A graduate of Oberlin College, he was a leading abolitionist, educator and political activist and Army recruiter.  He was the first president of what is now Virginia State University and the first African American elected to the U.S. Congress from Virginia.

 John Mercer Langston, 1849 Oberlin College Archives

John Mercer Langston, 1849 Oberlin College Archives

 Langston's house in Oberlin, a National Historic Landmark

Langston's house in Oberlin, a National Historic Landmark

Langston for many reasons belongs to Oberlin, but can you find other communities that honor him?


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Langston was responsible for the formation of the 127th Colored Ohio Volunteer infantry and recruited for the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War. See:

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