Thursday, February 19, 2015

Famous Black Firsts: Thomas Mundy Peterson

Thomas Mundy Peterson was born on October 6th 1824 in Metuchen, New Jersey. It is not known if his father was a slave but his mother was and by the age of 21 she was freed according to her owners will. Peterson was a school custodian and handyman as well as a Republican. My, how times have changed. The only Black Republicans you hear about now have money. 

Under the new 15th Amendment he was able to vote in an election making him the first Black person to vote on March 31st 1870 stating “I was working for Mr. T. L. Kearny on the morning of the day of election, and did not think of voting until he came out to the stable where I was attending to the horses and advised me to go to the polls and exercise a citizen's privilege.” 

He was also the first Black person to serve on a jury and hold an elected office on the Middlesex County Commission. Peterson was given a gold medal as an award for being the first Black voter. $70 was raised for it which translates to over $1,000 now. Financial problems forced him to pawn it multiple times but it is now housed at the African American Xavier University of Louisiana.

Click here for previous Famous Black Firsts.

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