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John Mercer Langston

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John Mercer Langston (December 14, 1829 – November 15, 1897) was a dean at Howard University. He helped create the department of law at the university.

Langston was born a free black in Virginia. His mother used to be a slave. His father was English. He was elected town clerk in Ohio. This made him the first black person to hold a public office (a job where the people vote for you). In 1888, he was elected to the U.S. Congress. He was the first black congressman from Virginia.