George T. Ruby, a trailblazing Black politician, educator and journalist, died in New Orleans on Oct. 31, 1882.

Born free in New York on July 1, 1841, Ruby moved to Maine with his family at a young age. He became a journalist and traveled to Haiti to work for the New England newspaper, Pine and Palm.

Ruby moved to Louisiana in 1864 — in the midst of the Civil War when New Orleans was under Union occupation — working as a teacher in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish. He moved to Galveston, Texas in 1866 after his attempts to open a school in East Feliciana Parish was met with violence. 

While in Galveston, Ruby joined the Freedmen’s Bureau and also worked as a contributor to the New Orleans Tribune. In 1868, Ruby was elected as a delegate for the National Republican Convention – where he served as the only Black member from the Texas delegation. He was  also elected as a delegate for the 1868 state constitutional convention.  In 1869, he became president of the Texas Loyal Union League. The league was an organization that aimed to increase the Black vote, dismantle racial violence and under Ruby, disenfranchise or deny the right to vote to former Confederates. That same year, Ruby was elected as a Texas state senator, where he represented three predominantly white counties.

Ruby achieved much success during his political tenure. In addition to his influence in the Black community, Ruby’s relationship with Texas Gov. Edmund Davis allowed him to recommend judges, commissioners, and mayors to positions of power throughout the state.

During his time in the Texas state senate, Ruby introduced bills that incorporated several railroads and insurance companies throughout Texas, provided for a land survey of the state, and organized Black dock workers into the Labor Union of Colored Men. 

By the mid-1870s, Reconstruction was coming to an end, and white Democrats began to regain power in Texas. With the shift in the political climate, Ruby chose not to run for reelection and returned to New Orleans. He worked as a clerk for the Port of New Orleans and also for the city’s internal revenue department. Ruby also edited the Black newspaper, the New Orleans Observer. He lived in the city until his death. 

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Shannon Stecker is a creative writer, a marketing director, and a lover of stories. She has spent the past 15 years of her career in a creative space – as a print and broadcast journalist, a freelance...