Women Leaders and Transformation in Developing Countries
Home Profiles Index Course Syllabus Document Index Video Clip Index Brandeis University Home Page
Carol Moseley-Braun (1947-)

U.S. Senate (1992-1998)

United States Flag of the United States


Moseley-Braun was the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992. She was educated at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and at the University of Chicago Law School. Her exposure growing up in a very poor and violent African American neighborhood instilled in her a belief in public service. She believes that her experience of living among people who are really trapped and do not have options helped to reinforce her desire, which had been instilled in her by her parents, to try to improve society. She was a participant in the Civil Rights Movement marches with Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and staged a one-woman sit-in at a white restaurant during the same point in time.

Moseley-Braun served Illinois as an Assistant United States Attorney(1973-77). She then worked for the Illinois State Legislature(1978-89). She was the first African-American woman to serve as assistant majority leader in the state legislature. She then was the first woman, and first African-American woman to hold an executive office in the Cook County government, whereby she recorded the Deeds of Cook County.

Moseley-Braun became increasingly angered during the Supreme Court hearings of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. She decided to run for office when she realized that the Senate seemed like a "club of rich white males who were out of touch with the American people, especially minorities and women." She concentrated her campaign on general economic themes of unemployment, investment, and worker retraining. She had held an important position in Chicago politics, spending three years as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office and being the Chief sponsor of the 1985 Urban School Improvement Act, and her boldness and integrity gained her public notice.

After taking office in January 1993, Moseley-Braun was appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Banking Housing, the Urban Affairs Committee, the Small-Business Committee, and the Special Committee on Aging. In January 1995, she was the first woman appointed to a full term on the Senate Finance Committee, and was also the first Illinois Senator in three decades to serve on the Committee. Through her work on these Committees, Moseley-Braun has fought to pass bills concerning child support, crime, and improving schools, such as the Child Support Orders Act, the Crime Bill, the Multiethnic Placement Act, and the Improving America's Schools Act.

In 1993, she single-handedly stopped the Senate from renewing a federal patent on the United Daughters of the Confederacy's insignia, which includes the first National Flag of the Confederate States of America. In 1993, she also urged President Clinton to sign legislation sponsoring research on women's health issues. She championed universal health care, gun control, and welfare reform, and supported programs that provided assistance to minorities and women. She fought against the death penalty and corporal punishment. She sponsored a bill that allowed public aid recipients to go to college without losing their benefits. She also passed an amendment that she authored to improve the handling of sexual harassment complaints in the military.

In 1994, she passed the Education Infrastructure Act to rebuild America's crumbling schools. She has been active in issues of patients' rights, co-sponsoring the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Health Insurance Portability Act, and the Patients Bill of Rights Act. Moseley-Braun has fought to prevent cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. She supports using the budget surplus to strengthen Social Security. She would like to persuade the legislature to authorize $22 billion in zero-interest bonds to help school districts make structural improvement.

She has received the Best Legislator Award in 1980 and 1982 from the Independent voters of Illinois and numerous other recognition for her political contributions. She was honored by major black organizations such as the National Association of Business and Professional Women's Clubs. She earned the U.S. Department of Justice Special Achievement Award.

Carol Moseley-Braun will be remembered for being the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She has a reputation as being a skilled legislator, one who can form coalitions, gets the job done, stands up for what she believes in, speaks her mind, and is always willing to take on a new challenge.


  1. Saari, Peggy. Prominent Women of the 20th Century, vol. 3. Gale Research Inc, 1996.
  2. Cook, Elizabeth Adell, Thomas, Sue, and Wilcox, Clyde. The Year of the Woman: myths and realities. Westview Press, 1994.
  3. Berry, Venise T., Manning-Miller, Carmen L. Mediated Messages and African-American Culture. Sage Publications Inc., 1996.
  4. Smith, Jessie Carney. Notable Black American Women II. Gale Research Inc., 1996.
  5. Graham, Judith. Current Biography Yearbook 1994. The H.W. Wilson Company, N.Y.
  6. Hine, Darlene Clark. Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. Carlson Publishing Inc: Brooklyn, 1993.
  7. Merida, Kevin. "The Washington Post" August 15 1994.

Map of the United States
Click on map to see full size version.
Click on inset for clickable world map.

Statistical Highlights
Total Population (thousands) - est. 3/2000 274,337
Avg. Annual Population Growth Rate - 1990-1995 1.05%
Median household income - 1998 $38,885
Poverty rate - 1998 12.7%
Change in consumer price index (inflation rate) - 1998 1.3%
Unemployment rate - 1998 4.5%

Gender Equity Information
Women per 100 Men 105
Full Suffrage for All Adult Women Obtained in (year) 1920
Percentage of legislature consisting of women 11%
Percentage of cabinet consisting of women 29%
Literacy Rate (F/M) 99% / 99%
Life Expectancy at Birth (F/M, in years) 79.7 / 72.8

Development Information Score
(of 1.000)
(HDI of 174)
(GDI of 163)
HDI 0.943 4
GDI 0.927 6

Hear the National Anthem of the United States, from National Anthems of the World
Flag graphic by Zeljko Heimer, courtesy of FOTW: Flags Of The World website <http://fotw.digibel.be/flags/> 5/9/00
   (Click on flag for full size version)
Map courtesy of theUniversity of Texas' Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection <http://www.lib.utexas.edu/Libs/PCL/Map_collection/Map_collection.html> 5/9/00
Statistical Information on the United States provided by the U.S. Census Bureau <http://www.census.gov/> 5/10/00
Gender Equity Information provided by Neft, Naomi and Levine, Ann D. Where Women Stand: An International Report on the Status of Women in 140 Countries 1997-1998. New York: Random House, 1997.
Development infromation provided by the United Nations Human Development Report 1998 <http://www.undp.org/hdro/98.htm> 5/10/00
   HDI = Human Development Index; GDI = Gender-related Development Index; Click on an index name in the table to view the full chart for that index.
A photograph of Carol Moseley-Braun is available on the NOW website at <http://www.now.org/nnt/10-97/conf.html>

Biographical profile ©2000 Martine Gomez. Compilation of some country information by Michael Cohen '01. Site as a whole is ©1999 Dessima Williams and CIMTech at Brandeis University. All rights reserved. Further copywright and contact information available at the site index.