Seventy-two years after women won the right to vote and 24 years after the Civil Rights Movement, Carol Moseley Braun made history and became the first African-American woman to be elected to the Senate.
In honor of Black History Month, and to start Women’s History Month, UW-Green Bay students and faculty have the opportunity to hear her speak Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. in the Phoenix rooms. The event is free and open to the public.
“We’re really excited,” said Christine Smith, chair of women’s and gender studies. “The students often don’t know who she is, but they need to. She’s part of history.”
Born and raised in Chicago, Moseley Braun has been a politician, lawyer, senator and educator. A graduate of the University of Illinois, she earned her degree in political science and went on to receive her law degree. Post-graduation, she worked as an assistant U.S. attorney.
Her first political seat came in 1978 as a democratic representative to the Illinois House of Representatives. She worked for education, government and health care reforms, as well as social change.
In 1988, Moseley Braun was elected recorder of deeds for Cook County, Ill.
Then in 1992, she took on the national political stage, making history as she became the first African-American woman senator.
President Bill Clinton appointed her U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa in 1999, a position Moseley Braun held for the duration of the Clinton administration.
Throughout her time in office, Moseley Braun fought for many issues and was a strong voice for women’s rights and civil rights — two issues the public will get a chance to hear her speak on.
Moseley Braun said she plans to speak about why civil, gay and women’s rights are all still relevant in this generation.
“What I hope to suggest is that the track record and lessons from these movements have a lot to share,” Moseley Braun said.
According to her, these lessons can be applied to any issue the nation faces today.
“I want to communicate some timeless lessons that can be applied to such issues, whether they’re poverty or violence against women,” Moseley Braun said.
Smith played a major role in getting Moseley Braun to the UWGB campus and hopes students will see the good work that Moseley Braun has done and be inspired.
“She’s encouraging everyone to get involved,” Smith said. “I hope everyone will see her as someone who has accomplished something and a role model and part of history. I hope they’re inspired and they hear the big message.”
Moseley Braun aspires to have a positive impact at UWGB as well.
“I want to share life experiences and stories and hope that people who come will take something from those stories,” Moseley Braun said. “It’s not about me, it’s about you.”
For students who may feel as if something like gender, race or sexual orientation will keep them from accomplishing their goals, Moseley Braun has some advice.
“Don’t get in your own way,” Moseley Braun said. “Don’t sell yourself short. Extraordinary is done by the ordinary. Once you understand that, that will help you develop what you want to do for yourself.”