On November 7, 1989, in Virginia, Lieutenant Governor Douglas Wilder, also a Democrat, becomes the first elected African American state governor in American history.
Although Wilder was the first African American to be popularly elected to the governor’s post, he was not the first African American to hold that office. That distinction goes to Pinkney Benton Stewart Pinchback, a Reconstruction-era lieutenant-general of Louisiana who became Louisiana state governor in December 1872. Pinchback served as acting governor for five weeks while impeachment proceedings were in progress against Governor Henry Clay Warmoth.
Wilder served as Virginia governor until 1993, whereupon he was forced to step down because Virginia law prohibits governors from serving two terms in succession.