Today’s fun Wisconsin state government fact, courtesy of the 2007-09 Blue Book:
The story behind Wisconsin’s first black legislator is interesting, since it seems like such a fluke. Lucien Palmer, a resort manager and hotel steward from Milwaukee, was elected in 1906 to the State Assembly. It is believed by some that Palmer earned his election because voters confused him with another Palmer who was white. This is supported by the fact that Lucien Palmer only lasted one session – it is possible that voters figured out who he was.
It wasn’t until 1944 that another African-American, Le Roy J. Simmons of Milwaukee, was elected to the Assembly. There has been black representation in the Legislature ever since. This fact really makes Lucien Palmer an outlier, and the circumstances of his election are probably a very interesting story.
Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society