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A leading African American political figure, Carol Moseley Braun was the first African American woman to be elected to the US Senate.
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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.
As a senator, Moseley Braun tackled many issues, including women’s rights and civil rights. She served on several committees, including the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Moseley Braun continued to support educational reforms and called for more restrictive gun control laws. Her time in office, however, was affected by claims that she misused funds from her 1992 campaign, spending the money on personal expenses. While no charges were ever filed, this allegation clung to Moseley Braun as she sought re-election in 1998. Bill Clinton in 1999. She left the post at the end of the Clinton administration. A career-long advocate for education, Moseley Braun then taught at Morris Brown College.
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When the 19th Amendment was ratified, women were finally given the right to vote, and over the years many courageous women have stepped onto the national political stage as well. In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress and almost a century later Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina woman to serve on the Supreme Court. And within the last two decades, the esteemable Hillary Clinton has served as First Lady, a New York senator and Secretary of State. These women, and many more, are setting the stage for the future of female leaders in Washington.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women."
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African-Americans have a long history of activism in America, from fighting for the right to vote to pushing for integrated public spaces. Activists like Stokely Carmichael organized freedom rides, James Meredith fought to integrate blacks and whites at the University of Mississippi, and Rosa Parks instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. These protests were often legal and nonviolent, and made a powerful impact on civil rights in the United States. With the help of activists like these—and many others—the country slowly worked to acknowledge the basic rights and contributions of African-Americans. Activists outisde of the U.S. include Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, who have fought against apartheid in South Africa. Learn more about the many black activists who fought against the odds in order to achieve equality.
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