Unlike Revels, Blanche K. Bruce (1841-1898) was born a slave. He may have been the son of his owner, a wealthy Virginia planter, and was educated by the same private tutor who instructed his master's legitimate child.
Bruce was taken to Missouri in 1850, and in the early days of the Civil War escaped to Kansas, where he established the state's first school for African American children.
Bruce came to Mississippi in 1868 with 75 cents to his name, and launched a successful political career in Bolivar county, where he served as sheriff and tax collector, and edited a local newspaper.
During his term in the Senate (1875-81), he worked to obtain federal aid for economic development in Mississippi.
A staunch defender of black civil rights, Bruce also spoke eloquently in opposition to the 1878 law prohibiting Chinese immigrants from entering the United States.