Oscar DePriest was born in Florence, Alabama, on 9th March, 1871. When he was seven years old his family moved to Salina, Kansas. After a limited education he did a variety of menial jobs. His fortunes improved when he moved to Chicago and he eventually became a successful estate agent.
A member of the Republican Party, DePriest served as Cook County commissioner (1904-1908) before becoming the first African American to be elected to Chicago's city council (1915-1917).
In 1928 DePriest became the first African American to be elected to the House of Representatives since George Henry White who had been defeated in 1900. Over the next few years DePriest advocated an end to racial discrimination in government and military employment and a federal anti-lynching bill. Oliver DePriest, who lost his seat in 1934, died in Chicago on 12th May, 1951.