Did You Know the First African American Woman Senator Was Elected on This Day?

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Carol Moseley Braun made history on November 3, 1992, when she became the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. Despite having limited funding, Moseley-Braun managed to defeat the incumbent senator and became the senator of Illinois.

Prior to becoming senator, Moseley-Braun attended the University of Illinois at Chicago and went on to receive a law degree from the University of Chicago. She got her start working as an assistant U.S. attorney before being elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1978. Moseley-Braun served as a representative for 10 years and was named the assistant leader for the Democratic majority. She became known for her advocacy of education reform, gun control and health care.  

Moseley-Braun made the decision to run for Senate after her time serving as the Cook County (Illinois) recorder of deeds. She ran against former U.S. Senator Alan Dixon in the 1992 Democratic primary. Some consider 1992 to be the “Year of the Woman” because more women than ever before were elected to political office, with five of them being elected to the U.S. Senate. Moseley-Braun beat the odds and became the first African American woman Senator and 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…Nor would I want to, because my presence in and of itself will change the U.S. Senate,” said Moseley-Braun shortly after being sworn into office. 

While in the Senate, Moseley-Braun served on several committees. She served on the Finance Committee; Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; and the Small Business Committee. Moseley-Braun 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. Her argument was so moving that the Senate rejected the patent renewal application. 

Moseley-Braun addressed a variety of issues plaguing women and the African American community during her term in office. She left the Senate in January of 1999 and soon after became the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand. Moseley-Braun has continued her involvement in politics and even made attempts to win the Democratic nomination for President. 

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