Frank R. Beckwith: The First Black Presidential Candidate

By | September 10, 2019

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Attorney Frank R. Beckwith. Source: (

Long before the historic presidency of Barack Obama, one man cut himself off a little slice of that history by becoming the first African-American candidate in a major party's presidential primary election. To give you just a small idea of how gutsy he was, he did this in the middle of the turbulent Civil Rights era. It was a groundbreaking achievement and a huge step in the quest for racial equality, yet you probably don't know this man's name. History has relegated him to the footnotes of the history books, but his contributions cannot be ignored. He is Frank R. Beckwith, and this is his story. 

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Beckwith was a prominent lawyer in Indianapolis beginning in the 1930s. Source: (

A Hoosier Politician

Born in 1904, Frank Roscoe Beckwith grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana as the son of former slaves, where he received a public school education and graduated in 1921 from the Arsenal Technical High School. After that, Beckwith interned for two prominent lawyers in the city, Asa J. Smith and Sumner A. Clancy. From these two men, Beckwith learned about law and politics. He then went on to become a successful attorney in his own right.