John Mercer Langston
- John Mercer Langston
- This photograph is a portrait of John Mercer Langston, an African American lawyer, educational administrator, and congressman. He was born in 1829 in Virginia, the son of a wealthy white planter and an emancipated slave. His parents died in 1834, leaving Langston a sizeable inheritance. Langston moved to Ohio, living first in Marietta, and then in Cincinnati. He attended Oberlin College, graduating in 1849. Although he was prohibited from attending law school because of his race, Langston read law and became the first African American lawyer in Ohio, passing the bar in 1854. He settled in Brownhelm, Ohio, where he was elected town clerk, becoming one of the country's first African American elected officials. Not long after, he moved to Oberlin, where he served on city council and the board of education(Om1277_111).