The fourth of eight children, Cuney was spared the duties and cruelties of enslavement. He was sent to school in Pittsburgh at age 13. The outbreak of the Civil War prevented him from attending Oberlin. Instead, after years of working on steamships traveling between the North and South, he took up self-study of law and literature. Soon he became involved in politics with the Republican Party.
In 1870, he became sergeant at arms in the Texas legislature. Cuney went on to hold several important political appointments. He became chairman of the Texas Republican Party, but was ultimately removed in 1892 when President Grover Cleveland was elected. Historians have dubbed the years from 1884-1896 as the “Cuney Era” for all of his accomplishments particularly with regard to empowering the black community.
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by The New York Times best-selling author Heidi Durrow celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks and events involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for archived profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year’s profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.