Carol Moseley Braun, 1947

  • National-Daughters-Day

Woman Category: Politics & LeadersWoman Tags: African-American Women, Lawyer, and Senator

  • HerStory

    A lawyer, politician, and diplomat. The first female African-American US Senator and the first female Senator from Illinois.

    Carol Elizabeth Moseley was born and raised in a segregated neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois. While in high school, her parents got divorced, and she moved in with her grandmother. After graduation, she studied Political Science at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Afterward, she studied law at the University of Chicago, earning her Juris Doctor degree at 25. While at law school, she met Michael Braun, and the couple married in 1973.
    In the same year, Moseley Braun began to work as a prosecutor in the US Attorney’s office in Chicago, dealing primarily with civil cases. After four years, she took time off to be at home with her newborn son till her neighbors recruited her to run for the state legislature. She served for 10 years, promoting health care, gun control, and education reform. In 1988, when Moseley Braun was elected to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, she became the first African-American to serve in an executive position in Cook County.
    In November 1992, after defeating her Democratic opponent, Moseley Braun ran in the primary election for the US Senate. On her win, she became the first African-American woman to be elected to the US Senate, the first African-American US Senator from the Democratic Party, and the first female Senator from Illinois. In her single term as Senator, she supported social causes, such as minority rights, pro-choice bills, child support bills, and budgets for job training of youth and senior citizens.
    A year after losing the re-election, she was nominated as the US Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. In 2003, Moseley Braun began her campaign for the Democratic Party presidential elections, though She dropped out of the race after reaching third in the DC primary. In 2005, she ran for mayor of Chicago, finishing fourth with only 9% of the votes. Since the early 2000s, Moseley Braun teaches political science in numerous institutes, including DePaul University and Northwestern University.

    “Magic lies in challenging what seems impossible.”

    “Magic lies in challenging what seems impossible.”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • She became involved in politics when fighting to preserve Jackson Park as the habitat of the bobolink – the native Illinois bird.
    • During her tenure, she was the sole African-American in the Senate.
    • In 1993, she and Senator Barbara Mikulski fought for women’s right to wear pants on the Senate floor. Thanks to them, today women can wear pants on the floor, as long as they also wear jackets.
    • In 2007, she broke her wrist while a mugger stole her purse.
    • She has dyslexia and working on promoting the de-stigmatization of the learning difficulty.
    • She was married once and has one son.
  • More About Her Legacy

    * The Attorney General's Special Achievement Award (1975)

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  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • The Choice 2020: Carol Moseley Braun (interview) | FRONTLINE

    Carol Moseley Braun served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 1993 to 1999. She was the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate and she served on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    The following interview was conducted by FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on July 1, 2020 during our reporting for the “The Choice 2020: Trump vs. Biden” — FRONTLINE’s critically acclaimed election series featuring the interwoven, investigative biographies of both presidential candidates. It has been edited for clarity and length.

    Starting Tues., Sept. 22, tune in or stream this two-hour special from veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk and his team:

    This interview is being published as part of FRONTLINE’s Transparency Project, an effort to open up the source material behind our documentaries. Explore the transcript of this interview, and others, on the FRONTLINE website:

    Learn more about how these interviews were filmed during the pandemic:

    #TheChoice2020 #CarolMoseleyBraun

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    Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation, the Park Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.

  • Official picture of Moseley Braun as a US senator, January 1993. Photo credit - United States Congress