Robert Lee Brokenburr (Robert Lee Brokenburr)

Robert Lee Brokenburr

Civil Rights Leader.  The son of a former slave, he was born in Phoebus, Virginia (now part of the city of Hampton), received a law degree from Howard University in 1909, and began a practice in Indianapolis.  A Republican, as were most African-Americans who could vote in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Brokenburr successfully represented Madam C.J. Walker, a successful business woman who became America’s first black millionaire, and for whose company Brokenburr worked as an executive while maintaining his law practice.  He attained numerous courtroom victories during his legal career, including overthrowing city ordinances that allowed discrimination in housing and public accommodations.  In 1940 Brokenburr made history by becoming the first African-American elected to the Indiana Senate, and except for one two-year hiatus, he served continuously until 1964.  He was an active legislator, especially in the area of civil rights, and the laws he authored include establishment of fair employment practices, improving voter registration and election participation among minorities by establishing an impartial voter registration board, and improving opportunities for African-Americans serving in the Indiana National Guard. Brokenburr was also active in numerous civic causes, including the Colored Men’s Civic League, YMCA and NAACP, and in 1955 President Eisenhower named him an Alternate Delegate to the United Nations.  He culminated his legislative career by authoring civil rights laws that were passed in 1961 and 1963, afterwards living in retirement until his death in Indianapolis. (bio by: Bill McKern)  Family links:  Spouse:  Alice Jean Brokenburr (1886 – 1945)* *Calculated relationship


  • November, 16, 1886
  • USA


  • March, 03, 1974
  • USA


  • Crown Hill Cemetery
  • Indiana
  • USA

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