Module 15 Assignment: The Right to Run for Office


Step 1: Choose a U.S. city, zip code, county, town, or state to use as your starting point. You can use the city where you were born, where you grew up or went to school, the place where you currently live, your favorite city, or you can even choose a random zip code.

Do your own independent research and find out who the first Black or Indigenous person elected to office from your selected area or state was/is. You may have to look up which Congressional district your zip code or town belongs to in order to find information, which you can do here at Find Your Representative.

  • Note: Try to focus on state and local officials, but you can also choose a federal official if you cannot find any information on state or local offices. For example, if you cannot find anything about Black or Indigenous elected officials in your specific county, you can use the first Black state-level elected official.

Step 2: Make a brief (between 5-8 slides) PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation on your subject (like in the example shared below). Try to keep your format, layout, and graphics simple and straightforward. Do not get too caught up in making it look “cool,” just make sure that it looks professional.

  • Include your subject’s biographical information (date and place of birth, parent(s), occupation(s), education, job history, etc.). Some records may not be available, that is ok. Try to find enough biographical info about your subject to fill at least one slide.
  • Then include information about their campaign for office, election, and their policies or activities while in office.
  • If you can, explain any opposition to their leadership, their ideologies, or policies, and/or how these policies have changed or evolved since their time in office.
  • Note: If you are finding that there is not enough available information to fill at least 5 slides, you may pick a subject from a later time period or who has more information available about them.

Step 4: Include photos of the subject or any photos/maps/visual aids related to them in your presentation! If you cannot find any photographs of your subject, you can include photographs or maps of the town/area/district instead, to add some visual interest to your slides. Include 3-4 photos or visual aids in your presentation.

Step 5: Be sure to cite your sources! You can either use footnotes on your slides, or you can include a Bibliography slide at the end of your presentation.


  • Basic Google search: Try using search terms like “first Black elected official in (your district, county, town, etc.)” or “first Black elected official in (your state)” and then narrow your search by district, county, or town)”
  • A partial list of Reconstruction-era black officeholders: It does not include every Black person elected to office, but it is a good place to start:
  • State Senator lists: Most states have lists of their State Senators on their government websites. Do a Google search for “list of (your state) State Senators” and poke around on the website. Here is an example of the list from the state of Pennsylvania website:
  • A Historical list of Members of Congress: Remember to begin your search by looking for House of Representative members for your specific district that you chose. US Senators are a last resort if you cannot find any state, local, or district-level official.
  • A Current list of Members of Congress: The first black member of the House for your district might be currently serving! Check this list if you cannot find a subject who has served in the past.

Worked Example

This Google Slides presentation on John T. Gunnel is provided to you as an example of what your final presentation might look like. You can go to “File > Make a Copy” to create your own editable version of the presentation.

Assignment Grading Rubric:

Criteria Poor Good Excellent Points
Accuracy Information is inaccurate or poorly researched. Requested information is missing. Information is somewhat accurate, some requested information is missing or unclear, research is vague or incomplete. Information is accurate, well-researched, complete, and presented in a clear format. All requested information is included. __/10
PowerPoint/ Slides Presentation Presentation is difficult to navigate or understand, out of order, unclear, uses distracting or unnecessary graphics, does not include any visual aids (or includes too many, cluttering the slides). Presentation includes too few or too many slides. Presentation is visually simple, but is vague, out of order, or difficult to understand due to layout. Includes 1-2 visual aids (or includes too many visual aids). Presentation may be slightly too short. Presentation is simple, but professional-looking, easy to understand and navigate, includes 3-4 visual aids and the correct number of slides. __/10
Total __/20