Edward Brooke profiled in the NYT

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Maybe it is his compelling life story. Or perhaps it’s his insistence that Americans can look beyond race and rally around fresh ideas and the possibility of change. But by the time the charismatic African-American senator begins to speak passionately of his unwavering opposition to the war in Iraq, it is clear that something about the man and his message is resonating with the audience.

The man is former Senator Edward W. Brooke, Republican of Massachusetts and the first black politician popularly elected to the United States Senate, way back in 1966. Now, nearly three decades after leaving office, Mr. Brooke is promoting his autobiography, “Bridging the Divide.” More than just a personal window into a vanished era, his story, for many, offers some salient insights and more than a few parallels to the politics of today.

“But for him, there would not be a Barack Obama,” said Michael Jones, senior executive vice president for the National Association of Securities Dealers, who took his 15-year-old son, Michael Jr., to the Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse in Washington to hear Mr. Brooke earlier this month. The two were part of a standing-room-only crowd of about 300 that ranged from octogenarians to elementary school students, all gathered to hear Mr. Brooke speak just hours after Senator Obama, the Illinois Democrat, announced his candidacy for president.

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