Edward Brooke, America's first popularly elected African-American senator, died Saturday of natural causes at the age of 95.
The only African-Americans to serve in the Senate before Brooke were two men chosen by state legislatures in the 1870s.
After graduating college, Brooke served in the Army during World War II, receiving a Bronze Star Medal. He went on to attend law school and become the first African-American attorney general in 1962.
Four years later, Brooke was elected to the Senate as a liberal Republican for the largely Democratic state of Massachusetts.
He was re-elected in 1972 behind his policies of opposing nuclear expansion, supporting civil rights, legalizing abortion and fair housing, and criticizing the Nixon administration, writes the New York Times.
After a public divorce with his first wife in 1978, his political career demised. In 2008, journalist Barbara Walters revealed that she and Brooke were involved in a clandestine romance beginning in 1973.
In 2004, Brooke received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. He was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in October of 2009.
President Obama was saddened by the news of Brooke's passing.
“Ed Brooke stood at the forefront of the battle for civil rights and economic fairness. During his time in elected office, he sought to build consensus and understanding across partisan lines, always working towards practical solutions to our nation's challenges,” Obama said in a statement.