REV. AL SHARPTON -- “These guns must be challenged by all of those who respect human life. We must send a united message to this country to stop making easy access of high-powered weapons and stop cutting mental illness programs,” Sharpton said. “We have to stand together and stop it now.” Getty Image
Photo 1 of 10
Black leaders seemed to know they couldn’t stay silent after the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., last week, when 20 schoolchildren and six adults were mowed down by a lone gunman.
While the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, as tragic as any calculated massacre, occurred in just minutes, many black leaders are all too familiar with the toll guns take in urban communities where gun violence happens daily. Leaders there are all too familiar with the funerals, the calls for stopping the violence and the inaction on the part of national politicians.
That’s certainly what civil rights activist and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton aimed to do Tuesday night, during a special service for the Connecticut shooting victims at Zion Baptist Church in the neighboring Waterbury, Conn.
Blacks are six times more likely than whites to be victims of violent crime, according to a 2011 U.S. Justice Department study, which also found that 93 percent of black are killed by another black person.
View statements from Sharpton and other black leaders, including President Obama, by clicking through the photo gallery above.
Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has been appointed to fill a soon-to-be vacated Senate seat. This will make him only the seventh African American to become a U.S. Senator. Since he's filling out a term, he faces re-election in 2014. Getty Image
Photo 1 of 7
Tim Scott is a black Republican.
And in spite of whatever unflattering connotations the label might carry for some in the black community, the 47-year-old South Carolina congressman and soon-to-be U.S. senator is making history. Scott will be the only African American serving in the U.S. Senate and the only one from the South since the 19th century.
And it's not the first time Scott's made history: as a member of the House, Scott was the first black Republican elected in South Carolina since 1901.
But, who is this guy? For starters, he grew up in poverty and was raised by a single mom, after his parents divorced when he was 6. During his 2010 bid for Congress, he described himself as a lost child who struggled with school until a Chick-fil-A franchise owner helped him turn his life around and instilled in him conservative principles.
On Monday, when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced his appointment to the soon-to-be vacated Senate seat held by Jim DeMint, Scott said race doesn't play a role in how he fulfills his duties as lawmaker.
"I've never heard on the campaign trail, 'Besides the fact you're black or because you're black, here's what we want of you.' They asked me questions about values and issues, and that's an amazing thing. It speaks to the evolution of South Carolina and our nation," Scott told reporters outside of the South Carolina statehouse after the announcement.
Scott will serve out the remaining two years of DeMint's term and will then face re-election in the 2014 midterms.
In addition to serving in Congress, Scott owns an insurance agency and has worked as a financial advisor, The Associated Press reports. He is unmarried.
There’s one more thing about him. He doesn’t like President Barack Obama, another of the gang of six African Americans to serve in the U.S. Senate. During the 2012 campaign, Scott served on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Black Leadership Council.
The glass ceiling that most African American politicians seem to face in the U.S. Senate isn’t a new phenomenon. The question is always, “Why don't we have any black senators.” Many answers have been given over the years, but University of Mississippi political science professor Marvin King sums it up most succinctly.
"How come minority members of the House have not transitioned to the Senate the way you see white members transition? One of the answers is the districts they represent tend to be different from the state as a whole,” King told CNN in April. “They tend to represent urban districts with high minority populations."
In other words, white voters don’t necessarily warm up to black senatorial candidates when they campaign outside of their stomping grounds. Even as the country has come very far in race relations and politics, it still struggles with demolishing other barriers to democracy.
The gallery shows Scott and the six other African Americans to serve in the U.S. Senate before him.
The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday announced the arrests of Trenton Mayor Tony Mack, his brother and an associate, for their alleged roles in extorting more than $100,000 in payments from a group developing a public parking garage. Paul Fishman, a U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, said the 46-year-old Mack, brother Ralphiel Mack and close associate Joseph “JoJo” Giorgianni, were part of fraudulent negotiations with two individuals who were cooperating with authorizes. Giorgianni and eight other were charged in a separate complaint on suspicious they conspired to distribute oxycodone pills in the area. The Macks and Giorgianni face a maxium 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine in the extortion case. (Department of Justice)