CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — NAACP West Virginia chapter president Owens Brown will be the first Black man to serve in the state Senate, Gov Jim Justice said Thursday.

Justice announced Brown’s appointment to the Senate seat vacated by the resignation of Bill Ihlenfeld, who was confirmed Tuesday as the U.S. attorney for the state’s northern district.

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“I congratulate Owens beyond belief. He will do an incredible job,” Justice said in a statement. “I am so proud of this because we need diversity. We need other opinions.”

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Brown is a Wheeling resident. The Senate seat covers Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio counties as well as part of Marshall County.

Marie Redd of Huntington was the first Black person elected to the state Senate, in 1998.

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