Carol Moseley Braun

Carol Moseley Braun is an African American politician and lawyer who represented Illinois in the United States Senate from 1993 to 1999. She was the first and to date only African-American woman elected to the United States Senate, the first woman to defeat an incumbent senator in an election, and the first and to date only female Senator from Illinois. From 1999 until 2001, she was the United States Ambassador to New Zealand. She was a candidate for the Democratic nomination during the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

Carol Elizabeth Moseley was born in Chicago to Edna and Joseph Moseley, a Chicago police officer, on August 16, 1947. The family lived in a segregated middle class neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago. Her parents divorced when she was in her teens, and she lived with her grandmother. A self-motivated individual even as a youth, Moseley Braun worked in the post office and in grocery stores to finance her own education after high school.

Carol Moseley began her college studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, but dropped out after four months. She then majored in political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, graduating in 1969. Carol Moseley continued to set high goals and continued her education at the University of Chicago Law School. Her diligence earned her a Juris Doctor degree in 1972, which she received with honors.

As an attorney, Moseley Braun was a prosecutor in the United States Attorney's office in Chicago from 1973 to 1977. An Assistant United States Attorney, she worked primarily in the civil and appellate law areas. Her work in housing, health policy, and environmental law won her the Attorney General's Special Achievement Award

Carol Moseley Braun held her first political post as a Democratic representative to Illinois House of Representatives, beginning in 1978. As a representative, she was known as an advocate for social change, working for reforms in education, government, and healthcare. In 1988, she took another challenge. She was elected recorder of deeds for Cook County, Illinois and oversaw hundreds of employees and the public agency’s multimillion budget.

In an historic effort, Carol Braun was elected to serve as the only black member of the United States Senate in 1992, and the first and only woman to be elected to the Senate from Illinois. She was also the first black Democrat to be elected from any state to the Senate.

As Senator, Carol Braun became the first woman in history to receive an appointment to the powerful Finance committee, where she introduced the first legislation to federally fund the reconstruction and repair of our nations crumbling schools.  Senator Braun amassed an impressive legislative record, winning approval of the first federal support to preserve and restore the Underground Railroad nationwide, environmental justice and Brownfields’ remediation legislation, women’s pension equity and lupus research funding.  The farm bureau named her their “Ethanol Queen” for her work on that alternative fuel. 

President Bill Clinton appointed Carol Moseley Braun ambassador to New Zealand in 1999. In 2003, she campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination. Moseley Braun opposed the war in Iraq and spoke out about the country’s economic situation, but she dropped out of the race in early 2004 after failing to garner enough support. She asked her supporters to vote for Howard Dean.

Click on the links below for detailed information and photos on polilcical leaders in Black history in the United States


The first black judge to have been appointed by the president to the federal bench was William Henry Hastie, whom Franklin Delano Roosevelt named as a district court judge for the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1937.

The White House

In 2008 Barack Obama became the first African-American to win the presidency. He served for two terms.


The 49 African-American members of Congress form the Congressional Black Caucus, which serves as a political bloc for issues relating to African Americans.


To date, ten African Americans have served in the United States Senate. In 1870, Hiram Revels of Mississippi became the first African American senator.

Mayors, Governors, Lt. Govenors

In 2001 there were 484 black mayors but that number is in decline. In 2000, nine of the nation’s 25 largest cities had black mayors. Today, just four do.

White House appointed positions

The appointments of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State made them the highest-ranking African Americans in the United States presidential line of succession


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Civil Rights Activists

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