Upcoming Black History Posts
  • Anna Maria Weems
  • The Pittsburgh Courier
  • Prudence Crandall
  • Anna Ella Carroll
  • Shirley Graham
  • Henry Blair
  • James Amos Porter
  • Elmer Simms Campbell
  • Arna Wendell Bontemps
  • Ambrose Caliver
  • Nannie Helen Burroughs
  • George H. White
  • Caterina Jarboro
  • Rosa Parks
Categories

Carol Moseley-Braun

Carol Moseley-Braun

Carol Moseley-Braun

The first African-American woman Senator, Carol Moseley-Braun was also only the second black Senator since the Reconstruction Era. “I cannot escape the fact that I come to the Senate as a symbol of hope and change,” Moseley-Braun said shortly after being sworn in to office in 1993. “Nor would I want to, because my presence in and of itself will change the U.S. Senate.” During her single term in office, Senator Moseley-Braun advocated for civil rights issues and for legislation on crime, education, and families.

Carol Moseley was born in Chicago, Illinois, on August 16, 1947. Her parents, Joseph Moseley, a policeman, and her mother, Edna (Davie) Moseley, a medical technician, divorced in 1963. The oldest of the four Moseley children in a middle-class family, Carol graduated from Parker High School in Chicago and earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois in 1969.  

Possessing an early interest in politics, she worked on the campaign of Harold Washington–an Illinois state representative, a U.S. Representative, and the first African-American mayor of Chicago–and the campaign of Illinois State Senator Richard Newhouse. In 1972, Carol Moseley graduated from the University of Chicago School of Law. In Chicago she met and later married Michael Braun. Moseley-Braun hyphenated her maiden and married names. The couple raised a son, Matthew, but their marriage ended in divorce in 1986. Moseley-Braun worked as a prosecutor in the office of the U.S. Attorney in Chicago from 1973 until 1977. In 1978, she won election to the Illinois state house of representatives, a position she held for a decade. After an unsuccessful bid for Illinois lieutenant governor in 1986, she was elected the Cook County, Illinois, recorder of deeds in 1988, becoming the first African American to hold an executive position in Cook County.

Not satisfied with her position as recorder of deeds, and believing politicians were out of touch with the average American, Moseley-Braun contemplated running for Congress. Her resolve to seek national office strengthened after she witnessed Senators’ questioning of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas’s controversial confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court in 1991. “The Senate absolutely needed a healthy dose of democracy,” she observed. “It wasn’t enough to have millionaire white males over the age of 50 representing all the people in the country.” Officially entering the race for the Senate in November 1991, Moseley-Braun focused in her Democratic primary campaign on two-term incumbent Alan Dixon’s support of Clarence Thomas’s appointment and the need for diversity in the Senate. Despite organizational problems and paltry fundraising, Moseley-Braun stunned the experts, defeating her two opponents, Dixon and Alfred Hofeld, an affluent Chicago lawyer, and capturing 38 percent of the primary vote. “This democracy is alive and well, and ordinary people can have a voice with no money,” Moseley-Braun remarked shortly afterward. In the general election, she faced Republican candidate Richard Williamson, a lawyer and a former official in the Ronald W. Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. Focusing on a message of change and diversity encapsulated by slogans such as, “We don’t need another arrogant rich guy in the Senate,” Moseley-Braun ultimately defeated Williamson with 53 percent of the vote. In the “Year of the Woman,” Carol Moseley-Braun became a national symbol of change, reform, and equality. Soon after her election to the Senate, she commented, “my job is emphatically not to be a celebrity or a full time symbol. Symbols will not create jobs and economic growth. They do not do the hard work of solving the health care crisis. They will not save the children of our cities from drugs and guns and murder.”

In the Senate, Moseley-Braun became the first woman to serve on the powerful Finance Committee when a top-ranking Democrat, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, gave up his seat to create a spot for her. Also, Moseley-Braun and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California became just the second and third women ever to serve on the prestigious Senate Judiciary Committee. In addition, Moseley-Braun served on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and on the Small Business Committee. In 1993, the Illinois Senator made headlines when she convinced the Senate Judiciary Committee not to renew a design patent for the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) because it contained the Confederate flag. The patent had been routinely renewed for nearly a century, and despite the Judiciary Committee’s disapproval, the Senate was poised to pass a resolution sponsored by Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina that included a provision to authorize the extension of the federal patent. Moseley-Braun threatened to filibuster the legislation “until this room freezes over.” She also made an impassioned and eloquent plea to her colleagues about the symbolism of the Confederate flag, declaring, “It has no place in our modern times, place in this body, place in our society.” Swayed by Moseley-Braun’s argument, the Senate rejected the UDC’s application to renew its patent.

Moseley-Braun sparred with Senator Helms once again while managing her first bill on the Senate Floor. As a cosponsor of a measure providing federal funding for the Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Commission–an organization established in 1984 to promote national recognition of the holiday–Moseley-Braun helped thwart a Helms amendment to the legislation that would have replaced government money with private donations. The Illinois Senator invoked memories of her participation in a civil rights march with King in the 1960s in an attempt to win support for the legislation. The Senate eventually approved the bill. Among Moseley-Braun’s other triumphs involving social legislation were her prominent roles in the passage of the Child Support Orders Act, the 1994 William J. (Bill) Clinton administration crime bill, the Multiethnic Placement Act, and the Improving America’s School Act.

During her term in the Senate, Moseley-Braun addressed an array of issues affecting women and African Americans. She helped create legislation to assist divorced and widowed women, arguing, “Pension laws were never written for women … no wonder the vast majority of the elderly poor are women.” She also sponsored the creation of the Sacagawea coin to recognize “women of color” and a National Park Service initiative to fund historic preservation of the Underground Railroad. A consistent supporter of equal opportunity and affirmative action, Moseley-Braun also spoke out against sexual harassment. In 1995 she joined five of her women colleagues in the Senate to call for public hearings on alleged sexual misconduct by Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon.

Despite the high expectations following Moseley-Braun’s upset victory in 1992, her term in the Senate was marked by controversy. Moseley-Braun drew criticism for alleged campaign finance violations,but such charges were later dismissed when a five-year investigation by the Federal Election Commission turned up only a minor discrepancy of $311. In 1996, the Congressional Black Caucus and human rights organizations chastised Moseley-Braun for taking a private trip to Nigeria to attend the funeral of General Sani Abacha’s son despite objections by the State Department. Previously an outspoken critic of human rights violations in the African nation, Moseley-Braun reversed her position and defended the Nigerian government.

Closely scrutinized, Moseley-Braun faced a difficult challenge in her 1998 bid for re-election to the Senate against Republican Peter Fitzgerald, an Illinois state senator. Capturing just 47 percent of the vote, Moseley-Braun lost to her opponent, who spent nearly $12 million of his own money. President Clinton appointed Moseley-Braun the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand; she served from 1999 until 2001. Attempting to revive her political career, Moseley-Braun entered the race for the Democratic nomination for President in 2000, but she was unsuccessful. It was the second time an African-American woman had sought the nomination (Shirley Chisholm became the first in 1972). Since 2001, Moseley-Braun has taught political science at Morris Brown College (Atlanta) and DePaul University (Chicago) and managed a business consulting company in Chicago.

In 2004, Moseley-Braun made another unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Black AMerica News

Hospital: Doc Gave Near-Death Patients Excessive Pain MedsCOLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An intensive care doctor ordered “significantly excessive and potentially fatal” doses of pain medicine for at least 27 near-death patients in the past few years after families a [...]

Sisters On Shutdown Furlough Start A Cheesecake Business [Video]Jaqi Wright and her sister, Nikki Howard, are furloughed federal employees who have found a way to bounce back during this partial government shutdown, which began Dec. 22. 800,000 federal employees a [...]

Army Wife And Her Alleged Lover Arrested In Husband’s MurderIt’s likely that some of Sergeant Tyrone Hassel’s last thoughts were about his wife and their baby boy. When he went to bring her a plate of food from a New Year’s Eve party he had no idea that would [...]

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Jumps Into 2020 Presidential RaceNEW YORK (AP) — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand entered the growing field of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders Tuesday, telling television host Stephen Colbert that she’s launching an exploratory commit [...]

At Least 15 Dead In Nairobi Hotel Terrorist Attack; Al-Shahab Claims ResponsibilityNAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Extremists stormed a luxury hotel in Kenya’s capital on Tuesday, setting off thunderous explosions and gunning down people at cafe tables in an attack claimed by Africa’s deadlie [...]

House Rebukes Rep. Steve King After Racist RemarksWASHINGTON (AP) — A Democratic measure rebuking Republican Rep. Steve King for his comments about white supremacy won easy approval Tuesday in the House. In a twist, the nine-term Iowa congressman was [...]

Fake News: Clemson QB Did Not Say He Loved White House Fast Food MealPosts circulating on social media Tuesday quoted Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence after the team’s visit to the White House as saying: “President Trump got all our favorite foods. It was the best m [...]

UNC Removes Confederate Pedestal From Campus OvernightCrews removed remnants of a Confederate statue from North Carolina‘s flagship public university early Tuesday, hours after the school’s outgoing chancellor ordered that the empty pedestal be put into [...]

Illinois Man Receives Posthumous Clemency In Stabbing CaseSPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Just days before he left office, former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner granted posthumous clemency to a man imprisoned for a stabbing that a serial killer later confessed to commi [...]

Man Leaves 2 Pounds Of Weed In Uber, Tries To Retrieve It From CopsPlenty of people leave things behind in Ubers and have the driver return whatever they left to them; but this Pennsylvania man would have been better off just forgetting about it. WXPI reports that th [...]

Utah Mall Shooting That Wounded 2 Was Gang DisputeMURRAY, Utah (AP) — A shooting at a suburban Salt Lake City mall that sent hundreds of panicked shoppers fleeing started as an argument between rival gang members inside the mall and later erupted in [...]

Son Sentenced For Killing, Dismembering Mom In HawaiiHONOLULU (AP) — A man who admitted to killing and dismembering his mother during an argument in their Honolulu apartment has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. Yu Wei Gong was charged with murder a [...]

California Appeals Justice Facing Sex Misconduct DisciplineLOS ANGELES (AP) — A California state appeals court justice was accused Monday of repeatedly groping a colleague’s breasts, suggesting they have an affair and telling a police officer who served as hi [...]

Gunman Gets 84-Year Term In Chicago Honor Student’s KillingCHICAGO (AP) — A judge on Monday imposed an 84-year prison sentence on a Chicago man who fatally shot a 15-year-old honor student a week after she performed at President Barack Obama’s 2013 inaugurati [...]

White Mother Says She Didn’t Raise Adopted African Daughters To Be BlackA white writer for the Federalist, a conservative publication, has sparked outrage across social media with her essay about why she is raising her adopted African daughters as Americans — not “Black” [...]

Police Kill Armed Man At Oregon School Amid Custody DisputeEUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Police shot and killed a man who showed up Friday with a gun at an Oregon middle school amid a custody dispute, authorities said. No one else was injured. The man had been escorted [...]

Serena Williams Returns To Australian Open With Emphatic WinMELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams jumped straight back in where she left off at the Australian Open, returning for the first time since winning the title in 2017 when she was pregnant with h [...]

TSA No-Shows Increase During ShutdownATLANTA (AP) — The number of airport security screeners failing to show up for work around the country is soaring as the partial government shutdown goes into its fourth week. No-shows among screeners [...]

Man Accused In Beating Death Of 3-Year-Old Over Juice Indicted On Murder ChargeNews Chanel 3 reports that a three-year-old girl was beaten to death by a man over juice. According to officials, Anthonisha Edwards was beaten to death because Tarenton Rogers, 25, thought she had ta [...]

Man Arrested After Stabbing Family Dog In The NeckDemarko Nichols, 23, was arrested after his family called 9-1-1 to report that he’d stabbed a dog. Nichols was reportedly charged with aggravated cruelty to animals on Sunday afternoon. A family membe [...]