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.   Continue reading

Ralph Harold Metcalfe

Ralph Harold Metcalfe

Ralph Harold Metcalfe

Ralph Metcalfe achieved worldwide fame as an Olympic athlete years before he became involved in politics on Chicago’s South Side. Like William Dawson, his predecessor from the predominantly black, urban Illinois district, Metcalfe rose through the ranks of the Chicago Democratic political machine before winning a seat in Congress.

However, Metcalfe differentiated himself from other machine loyalists of the period by elevating race above local party interests. Metcalfe’s willingness to risk his political career to follow his conscience won him loyal support among the majority of his constituents and his black colleagues in the House.  Continue reading

Harold Washington

Harold Washington

Harold Washington

b. April 15, 1922, Chicago, Ill., U.S.–d. Nov. 25, 1987, Chicago), American politician who gained national prominence as the first African-American mayor of Chicago (1983-87).

Washington graduated from Roosevelt University (B.A., 1949), earned a law degree from Northwestern University (1952), and established a private law practice in Chicago. He succeeded his father, a part-time Methodist minister, as Democratic precinct captain before working as a city attorney (1954-58) and a state labour arbitrator (1960-64). He then served in the Illinois House of Representatives (1965-76), the Illinois State Senate (1976-80), and the U.S. House of Representatives (1980-83).  Continue reading

Cardiss Collins

Cardiss Collins

Cardiss Collins

Representative, 1973-1997, Democrat from Illinois.

Elected to 12 consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Cardiss Collins ranks as one of the longest-serving minority women in the history of Congress. Succeeding her late husband, Representative George Collins, after his death in 1972, Cardiss Collins continued his legacy as a loyal politician in the Chicago Democratic organization directed by Mayor Richard Daley. One of only a handful of women to serve in Congress for more than 20 years, and the only black woman in the chamber for six years, Representative Collins evolved into a dedicated legislator who focused on the economic and social needs of her urban district.  Continue reading

John R Lynch

John Roy Lynch

Representative, 1873-1877, Republican from Mississippi
Representative, 1882-1883, Republican from Mississippi

The only African-American Representative from Mississippi for a century, following a quick rise in politics at a young age, John Roy Lynch fought to maintain Republican hegemony in his state in the face of violent Democratic opposition. A veteran of the Civil War and, later, the Spanish-American War, Lynch emphasized his rights as an American citizen on the House Floor.

“It is certainly known by southern as well as northern men that the colored people of this country are thoroughly American,” he declared. “Born and raised upon American soil and under the influence of American institutions; not American citizens by adoption, but by birth.”   Continue reading

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