September 10, 1847 John Roy Lynch, the first African American Speaker of the House in Mississippi, was born enslaved in Concordia Parish, Louisiana. Lynch and his family were freed in 1863 after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. After the Civil War, Lynch learned the photography trade and managed a successful business. He educated himself by reading books and newspapers and eavesdropping on classes at a white school. From 1869 to 1873, he served in the Mississippi House of Representatives, serving the last term as Speaker of the House. In 1873, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he served until 1877. He was re-elected in 1880 and served from April, 1882 to March, 1883. During his time in Congress, Lynch worked to support the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to ban discrimination in public accommodations. During the Spanish – American War of 1898, Lynch was appointed treasury auditor and paymaster. In 1901, he joined the Regular Army and served until his retirement in 1911. After leaving the army, he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he practiced law until his death on November 2, 1939. He was buried with military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. In 1913, Lynch authored “The Facts of Reconstruction” which argued that blacks had made substantial contributions to the country during the Reconstruction Period. Lynch’s biography, “Reminiscences of an Active Life: The Autobiography of John Roy Lynch,” was published in 1970.