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The Honorable Edward Brooke

Edward Brooke, III was born in Washington, D.C., on October 26, 1919. His father, Edward Brooke, Jr., was an attorney for the Veterans Administration for more than fifty years, and his mother, Helen, later worked on all of Brooke’s political campaigns. Brooke entered Howard University at the age of sixteen, and earned his B.A. degree in sociology in 1941. After graduation, Brooke entered the U.S. Army and was sent overseas. A decorated captain in the all-black 366th Combat Infantry Regiment, Brooke defended men in military tribunals. During the Italian campaign, Brooke disguised himself as an Italian, crossing enemy lines to meet with the Italian Partisans and facing Nazi and Fascist troops.

Returning from World War II and experienced in legal proceedings, Brooke enrolled in Boston University Law School, earning an LL.B. in 1948 and an LL.M. a year later, as well as serving as the editor of the school’s Law Review. While practicing law in Boston, Brooke began seeking political office. Despite good showings in several races between 1950 and 1960, he failed to win. However, in 1960, he was appointed chairman of the Boston Finance Commission, where he exposed corruption in many city departments. His popularity high from his work there, Brooke was elected to the office of Massachusetts Attorney General, becoming the first African American to hold that post in the nation. He remained in the office for two terms, and in 1966, he won election to the U.S. Senate, where he was the first African American to be elected by popular vote, the first to be seated since Reconstruction and later the only to be re-elected.

During his first term in the Senate, Brooke spent a great deal of time on the issue of the Vietnam War, traveling to Asia on fact-finding missions. Upon his return, he requested that the United States cease using napalm. He also began calling for an end to trade with South Africa because of its apartheid policies. In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to the National Commission on Civil Disorders, which made recommendations that ultimately took shape as the 1968 Civil Rights Act. Brooke later challenged Richard Nixon's Supreme Court nominees Hainsworth and Carswell, even though he had supported Nixon’s bid for the presidency. Brooke later became the first senator to call for Nixon’s resignation. Leaving Congress in 1979, Brooke spent another six years in private practice before retiring.

Brooke received thirty-four honorary degrees from the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities and numerous other awards, including the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP and the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit from the Italian Government. In 2000, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts dedicated a courthouse in his honor.

Brooke passed away on January 3, 2015 at the age of 95.

Accession Number

A2003.233

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/23/2003

Last Name

Brooke

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Boston University School of Law

First Name

Edward

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

BRO10

Favorite Season

Spring

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Martin, French West Indies

Favorite Quote

You do what you have to do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

10/26/1919

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Miami

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lamb

Death Date

1/3/2015

Short Description

U.S. senator The Honorable Edward Brooke (1919 - 2015 ) was the first African American to be elected senator by popular vote, the first to be seated since Reconstruction, and the first to be re-elected. During the Vietnam war, he called for a ban on napalm; he also served on the National Commission on Civil Disorders and later was the first senator to call for the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.

Employment

Boston Finance Commission

State of Massachusetts

United States Senate

C. Splar & Bok

O'Connor & Hannan

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Edward Brooke

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Edward Brooke identifies five favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Edward Brooke provides information about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Edward Brooke shares information about his paternal lineage and father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Edward Brooke reflects on his childhood in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Edward Brooke discusses childhood activities and heroes

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Edward Brooke describes the personalities of his mother and father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Edward Brooke talks experiences and influences at Dunbar High School in Washington D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Edward Brooke describes himself as a student in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Edward Brooke identifies a high school mentor

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Edward Brooke talks about commuting as a student to Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Edward Brooke reflects on sports at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Edward Brooke remembers notable professors at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Edward Brooke discusses his college involvement in the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Edward Brooke talks about the significance of black organizations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Edward Brooke discusses his entrance into the Army

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Edward Brooke describes degregation in the army

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Edward Brooke shares stories about his army experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Edward Brooke shares stories of discrimination while serving in the army

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Edward Brooke talks about the low morale of the black troops

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Edward Brooke recounts leading a band of Italian partisans

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Edward Brooke reflects on the historical service of blacks in the military

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Edward Brooke retells a story of a suprise attack on the enemy while stationed in Italy

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Edward Brooke details the reluctance to use black troops for combat duty

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Edward Brooke describes the mix of emotions upon returning home after the war

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Edward Brooke shared details about his black combat unit

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Edward Brooke discusses meeting and marrying an Italian woman

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Edward Brooke recounts his decision to attend law school

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Edward Brooke talks about living in the Roxbury district of Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Edward Brooke discusses entering private legal practice

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Edward Brooke talks about running for public office

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Edward Brooke describes his involvement in Massachusetts politics

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Edward Brooke comments on the impact of his wife's race on his campaigns

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Edward Brooke talks about running for Secretary of State

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Edward Brooke describes some of the challenges he faced while investigating corruption

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Edward Brooke discusses being elected Attorney General for Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Edward Brooke talks about the Boston Strangler case

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Edward Brooke discusses politics in Massachusetts

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Edward Brooke talks about the Voting Rights Act

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Edward Brooke talks about the importance of economic and political power

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Edward Brooke highlights the contributions of individuals to black political and economic progress

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Edward Brooke comments on Barry Goldwater

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Edward Brooke comments on black elected officials

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Edward Brooke discusses his path to the Senate

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Edward Brooke discusses his constituency

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Edward Brooke talks about political opposition in 1966

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Edward Brooke explains his approach to public office

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Edward Brooke talks about opposition to his run for the United States Senate

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Edward Brooke discusses the Vietnam war

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Edward Brooke identifies issues he confronted while running for the United States Senate

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Edward Brooke talks about the Watts riot

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Edward Brooke discusses black voters and the two major political parties

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Edward Brooke talks about the Kennedy family

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Edward Brooke discusses black voter support and black representation

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Edward Brooke outlines key issues for future black Senatorial candidates

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Edward Brooke discusses his contentious relationship with Richard Nixon

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Edward Brooke details his stature and influence in the Republican Party

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Edward Brooke reveals his abhorrence for the Republican Southern Strategy

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Edward Brooke discusses Richard Nixon's strengths and weaknesses

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Edward Brooke remembers his advice to Richard Nixon to resign the Presidency

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Edward Brooke recounts his views on the Vietnam War and a meeting with Lyndon Johnson

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Edward Brooke notes highlights from his Senate career

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Edward Brooke shares his hopes and concerns for society

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Edward Brooke reflects on his legacy

The Honorable Barack Obama

Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He attended Occidental College for two years before transferring to Columbia University in New York, where he became interested in a career as a social activist.

After graduation, Obama found work as a community organizer, which led him to Chicago. Obama was hired to head the Developing Communities Project and served in this capacity for over three years. However, realizing the limitations of working at such a localized level, Obama enrolled at Harvard Law School. At Harvard, Obama excelled, eventually becoming the President of the Harvard Law Review, the first African American ever to hold this position. After he graduated from Harvard, Obama wrote a book, Dreams from My Father, based on his family’s experiences. He went to work at the Chicago law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland.

On advice from friends, Obama ran for a vacant state Senate seat in 1996, and was successfully elected to represent the 13th Legislative District. In 2000, Obama ran for a seat in Congress but lost to incumbent Bobby Rush. In 2004, Obama successfully ran for a seat in the United States Senate representing Illinois, becoming only the fifth African American senator in United States history. On February 10, 2007, Obama announced that he would run for President of the United States. On June 3, 2008, Obama became the presumptive democratic nominee for the U.S. presidency. He is the first African American to ever win a major political party’s nomination for president. On November 4, 2008, Obama became the president-elect when he won the election for President of the United States. He is the first African American president in the history of the United States. Obama was sworn-in as U.S. president on January 20, 2009.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, are the parents of two daughters, Sasha and Malia.

Accession Number

A2001.082

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/16/2001

Last Name

Obama

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Punahou School

Occidental College

Columbia University

Harvard Law School

First Name

Barack

Birth City, State, Country

Honolulu

HM ID

PITS017

Favorite Season

Fall, Summer

State

Hawaii

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bali, Indonesia

Favorite Quote

I'm tired.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/4/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Beans (Red), Rice

Short Description

State senator, president, and U.S. senator The Honorable Barack Obama (1961 - ) ran for a vacant State Senate seat in 1996, and was successfully elected to represent the 13th Legislative District. In 2004, Obama successfully ran for a seat in the United States Senate representing Illinois, becoming only the fifth African American Senator in United States history. On November 4, 2008, Obama became the first African American president-elect when he won the election for President of the United States. Obama was sworn-in as U.S. president on January 20, 2009.

Employment

Delete

Project Vote

Miner, Barnhill & Galland

Illinois State Senate

University of Chicago Law School

United States Senate

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Barack Obama interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Barack Obama names his favorite food

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Barack Obama lists his other favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Barack Obama describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Barack Obama describes his mother and her background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Barack Obama shares his experience defining a racial identity, part I

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Barack Obama shares his earliest memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Barack Obama explains his mother's investment in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Barack Obama describes his adolescent behavior

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Barack Obama reflects on his years in Indonesia as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Barack Obama shares his experience defining a racial identity, part II

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Barack Obama recounts his college years

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Barack Obama recalls his experience as a community organizer

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Barack Obama recalls law school and the beginning of his political career

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Barack Obama evaluates his success as a law student

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Barack Obama assesses his law school education

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Barack Obama discusses his early exposure to electoral politics

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Barack Obama details his entrance into politics

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Barack Obama recounts his 1996 campaign for Illinois state senate

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Barack Obama reacts to proceedings in the Illinois state legislature

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Barack Obama reflects on the histories of local Chicago politics and Illinois state politics

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Barack Obama classifies a generation of young, black elected officials

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Barack Obama evaluates the role of government in improving black lives

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Barack Obama considers his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Barack Obama credits influential figures in his life

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

4$4

DATitle
Barack Obama recalls his experience as a community organizer
Barack Obama recounts his 1996 campaign for Illinois state senate
Transcript
I decided, upon graduation [from Columbia University, New York, New York], that I wanted to continue in that kind of work [political activism]. So I--for a year I worked as a financial journalist to pay off my student loans and as soon as I had those paid off, I started looking for work as a community organizer or political activist or something that was going to lead me into that area of work. And it turned out that it was actually harder to find work doing good than I had expected. It's an irony of this country that it's actually easier to find a paying job, you know, just to make money than it is to try to find a job that involves social change in some fashion. But there were a small group of churches on the far South Side of Chicago [Illinois] that were experiencing tremendous pressure because the steel mills in the area had closed, people were losing jobs, there was a lot of racial turnover. This would be in places like Roseland and West Pullman [Chicago, Illinois]. And these churches had decided to get together, form an organization, raise a small budget and try to hire somebody who could staff a community organization that would help them with these problems. And they only had a small budget, so they could only afford to pay somebody thirteen thousand dollars a--thirteen thousand dollars a year. And it just so happened that I saw an advertisement that they had placed in a community newspaper and wrote to them and they agreed to hire me. So I drove out to Chicago not knowing a single person in Chicago. I was--this would have been 1985 and so I was twenty-four years old, and ended up serving as the director of this community organization for three and a half years, and it was the best education of my life because it allowed me to not only learn some of the skills of organizing and politics that I still apply today in my career, but, more importantly, it gave me a home--it gave me a base. It sort of rooted me in a specific community of African Americans whose, you know, values and stories I soaked up and found an affinity with. And we did some good in this organizing work. You know, we were able to set up job training programs and college counseling and education programs for youth, cleaned up vacant lots, brought more money into neighborhood parks, worked on school reform issues, trained a cadre of neighborhood leaders that are still active in that area and so, overall, it was a wonderful experience and, you know, difficult. When I think back to me being twenty-four and working mostly with women and men and pastors who were my parents' age or grandparents' age, not really knowing anything about Chicago, not knowing that much about the church, I was pretty green behind the ears. But they, I think the community appreciated my efforts even if sometimes they weren't always as effective or as efficient as if I had had a little more experience, and it ended up being a wonderful training ground for me. After about three and a half years of doing that work, I became more keenly aware of the fact that it was--it was going to be difficult though to bring about the kind of change that I was concerned about by working at such a local level. The problems of joblessness or drug violence or the failures of the public education system, all those decisions weren't just being made locally and they didn't just track particular neighborhood boundaries. They were citywide issues, statewide issues, national issues. So I became more aware of the need for me to step back and be able to evaluate and analyze these issues at a larger level and a larger scale, and potentially have more power to shape the decisions that were affecting those issues. And, in addition, you know, the years during which I was organizing, those were the years that [Mayor] Harold Washington was in office and [city] 'Council Wars' was going on here in Chicago. And part of the reason, I think, I had been attracted to Chicago was reading about Harold Washington, and I think the inspiration that African Americans across the country had taken from his election as the first African American mayor in Chicago. And Harold died in '87 [1987] after I had been organizing for about three years, and, you know, you just got a sense that the city was going to be going through a transition. That the kinds of organizing work that I was doing wasn't going to be the focal point of people's attention because, you know, there were all these transitions and struggles and tumult that was going on in terms of the African American community figuring where to go next. And so I decided it was a good time for me to pull back and I went to law school at Harvard [Harvard Law School, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts].$What about the election? Was there anything surprising about that? You won your first time out so--,$$Well, I did, but, you know, it was an interesting introduction to politics in Chicago [Illinois] because what had happened was that the incumbent, [Illinois state senator] Alice Palmer, had decided to run for [U.S.] Congress against Mel Reynolds. Mel Reynolds, at the time, was still the congressman. She had made the decision early to run against him and had asked me for help on the campaign, and I said that I would because she had a good reputation in progressive circles and had struck me as a capable woman and had a good voting record in the senate. So I assisted her with her campaign. About halfway through the campaign, it became apparent that Mel Reynolds was going to be indicted for a variety of charges and that there would probably be a special election, which would take place about three weeks to a month before the deadline for filing petitions for the [Illinois] state senate race. And the significance of that was is that up until Mel Reynolds's indictment and conviction and the scheduling of a special election, Alice Palmer had to vacate her seat to run for Congress. She couldn't run for both at the same time. Because the special election occurred early, it left the possibility that Alice could run for Congress and, if she lost, retain her state senate seat. So, at that point, I approached her--at this point, people--mutual supporters had already talked to me about running. I had already started the process of opening an office and raising money and doing all these things, but I went to her and I said, "Look. It's a new scenario now. I haven't announced publicly that I'm running. If you want to hedge your bets and wait and see if you win, then I'm comfortable with that and I can sort of keep my campaign on a holding pattern until we see what happens." She said, "No, Barack. I'm telling you I'm not interested in being in the state senate anymore. I'm going to win this congressional race and so, you know, you have my blessing and my go ahead." And she had endorsed me formally at the announcement. Of course then what happened was that when Mel Reynolds was indicted and convicted, a lot of people decided they were interested in that race. So Emil Jones ran, Monique Davis ran and Jesse [Jackson] Jr. ran, and Alice probably was not in the best position at that point to win the race. And I continued to ask her whether she was still sure that she wanted to give up her senate seat and she insisted that she did. So we went ahead with our campaign. Well, Alice, you know--as we know today, lost to Jesse, Jr.. And the next day, I hear back from her supporters that I should step down and let her stay in her senate seat. And, at that point, I had, you know, raised money and gathered petitions and had this entire campaign apparatus and I said, you know, "I can't do that. I've been having these conversations with her for quite some time now and, you know, I indicated that I was committed once I got in." So it was an unfortunate incident. I understood what happened from Alice's perspective. I think it's always hard to leave politics, especially on a losing note like that, but she did try to get back in the race. It turned out that she didn't actually have enough time to put together the necessary petition signatures to run and wasn't able to get on the ballot. But, you know, it was a--it left a little bit of a bitter taste in my mouth just in the sense that it reminded me that part of politics is this struggle for individual advancement that doesn't always have to do with, you know, the actual agenda of the community, and it's hard to keep above the fray. I mean, if you're going to be involved in this process that you end up having to play hard ball and battle it out even as you keep your eye on the prize, and that's not always an easy thing to do to balance those two things--the gamesmanship or the power struggles involved in politics and the policy and, you know, long term concerns that should be driving our political process.

The Honorable Carol Moseley Braun

Carol Moseley-Braun was born in Chicago to Edna, a medical technician, and Joseph Moseley, a Chicago police officer, in 1947. Her parents emphasized the importance of education and the necessity of hard work throughout Carol's childhood and she learned these lessons well. A self-motivated individual even as a youth, Carol Moseley-Braun worked in the post office and in grocery stores in order to finance her own education after high school. Her diligence earned her a law degree from the University of Chicago, which the ambitious young woman received with honors.

Carol Moseley-Braun worked for three years as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office. Her success as a prosecutor earned her the United States Attorney General's Special Achievement Award. Then, in 1978, Moseley-Braun was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, where she immediately earned a reputation as an uncompromising stateswoman. Her legislative legacy has been her ability to build coalitions comprised of people of all races who are committed to the same principles of efficient government. During her first election for State Representative, Carol Moseley-Braun pledged to make education her top priority. She was the chief sponsor of the 1985 Urban School Improvement Act, which created parents' councils at every school in Chicago. Other education legislation sponsored by Moseley-Braun included a 1980 bill that provided higher salaries for teachers and professors. After only two terms in the House, Carol Moseley-Braun was selected to become the first woman and the first African American in Illinois history to serve as Assistant Majority Leader.

As the late Mayor Harold Washington's legislative floor leader, Carol Moseley-Braun was the chief sponsor of bills to reform education and to ban discrimination in housing and private clubs. For each of her ten years in the legislature, Carol Moseley-Braun received the "Best Legislator" award given by the Independent Voters of Illinois - Independent Precinct Organization.

On November 3, 1993, Carol Moseley-Braun was elected to the United States Senate. Her victory represented the opening of a new world of opportunity to African Americans, as she was only the second African American elected to the U.S. Senate. Upon taking office, she was named to the Judiciary Committee; the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; and the Small Business Committee. During her term, Carol Moseley-Braun was a strong champion of health care and education reform. In 1994, she authored the Educational Infrastructure Act, which was designed to channel education funds into the areas most needed by low-income communities.

Such measures emphasize Carol Moseley-Braun's tireless fight for the creation of social programs that directly address the needs of a district rather than those that merely promote a political agenda. In 1999, President Clinton appointed Carol Moseley-Braun United States Ambassador to New Zealand. Currently, Moseley-Braun teaches at DePaul University in Chicago and Morris Brown College in Atlanta, where she also serves as vice president of the consulting firm GoodWorks International.

Accession Number

A2002.024

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

3/19/2002

Last Name

Moseley Braun

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Henry Horner School

Martha M. Ruggles Elementary School

Paul Robeson High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

University of Chicago

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Archival Photo 2
Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Carol

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

MOS01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $5,000 - $10,000

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Tanqueray

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mountains

Favorite Quote

Do the best you can with what you have.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/16/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens (Collard)

Short Description

U.S. senator The Honorable Carol Moseley Braun (1947 - ) was the first African American woman to serve as a United States senator, and the first woman to serve as a senator from the State of Illinois. In 1999, President Clinton appointed Moseley Braun United States Ambassador to New Zealand.

Employment

Chicago Housing Authority

United States Attorney's Office, Chicago

Illinois House of Representatives

City of Chicago

United States Senate

United States Government

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carol Moseley Braun interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carol Moseley Braun recalls her mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carol Moseley Braun remembers her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carol Moseley Braun shares memories from her early life in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carol Moseley Braun details her family's diverse cultural pursuits

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carol Moseley Braun describes her childhood personality and interests

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carol Moseley Braun remembers an influential teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carol Moseley Braun recalls attending Francis W. Parker Community Academy

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carol Moseley Braun shares difficult chilhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carol Moseley Braun recounts life after her parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carol Moseley Braun describes her work with the Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carol Moseley Braun recounts her political involvement in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carol Moseley Braun explains her decision to attend law school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carol Moseley Braun details her experiences at The University of Chicago Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carol Moseley Braun recalls family opposition to her interracial marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carol Moseley Braun remembers her early legal career and marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carol Moseley Braun describes her work in the U.S. Attorney's office

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carol Moseley Braun explains her decision to be a mother

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carol Moseley Braun recounts running for state office

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carol Moseley Braun details her tenure in the Illinois state legislature

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Carol Moseley Braun recalls her challenges in the Illinois general assembly

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carol Moseley Braun explains her decision to leave the Illinois general assembly

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carol Moseley Braun recounts running for lieutenant governor of Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carol Moseley Braun remembers Cook county politics at Harold Washington's death

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carol Moseley Braun recalls Eugene Sawyer's run for Chicago mayor

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carol Moseley Braun remembers serving in the Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Carol Moseley Braun reflects on the nomination of Clarence Thomas

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Carol Moseley Braun recalls the confirmation hearing for Clarence Thomas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Carol Moseley Braun explains her decision to run for the Senate

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Carol Moseley Braun relates how her gender and background affected her approach to politics

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Carol Moseley Braun describes the first phase of her senate campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Carol Moseley Braun remembers winning the senate primary

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Carol Moseley Braun outlines the benefit of her primary win for women candidates

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Carol Moseley Braun describes challeges faced in her primary campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Carol Moseley Braun recalls her 1998 Senate loss

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Carol Moseley Braun remembers the opposition she faced while in the Senate

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Carol Moseley Braun reflects on the issue of the Confederate flag

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Carol Moseley Braun highlights her legislative record while in the U.S. Senate

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Carol Moseley Braun discusses her 1998 campaign for the Senate

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Carol Moseley Braun recounts leaving the Senate

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Carol Moseley Braun recounts challenges to becoming an ambassador to New Zealand

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Carpl Moseley Braun describes her experience in New Zealand

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Carol Moseley Braun reflects on her life since Congress

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Carol Moseley Braun discusses changes for her future and the country

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Carol Moseley Braun shares her hopes and concerns for black people

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Carol Moseley Braun talks about her son, Mathew Braun

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Carol Moseley Braun reflects on her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Carol Moseley Braun identifies favorite things

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

2$2

DATitle
Carol Moseley Braun explains her decision to run for the Senate
Carol Moseley Braun remembers the opposition she faced while in the Senate
Transcript
During that period, some people had started to say well you know, maybe you could think about just giving [Alan] Dixon a scare and saying you're gonna run against him if he votes for Clarence Thomas. I didn't, frankly, at that point, really take it all that seriously. It was just the thought that was kind of protest politics at that point. And then as Anita Hill's testimony went on, the women, as you know, became more and more enraged really about not just what had happened to her, not just the sexual harassment that she had experienced, but the fact that the members of the committee just didn't seem to get it that this was a major economic issue for women. And at the time, I remember having conversation after conversation that most professional women who have worked in the workplace had had some incident of sexual harassment. Everybody had a story of, you know, the boss who, you know, touched their breasts or their back or their legs or something, or who, you know, asked them out for dates or whatever. So this was something that resonated with women across the board. And the fact that there were no women in the Senate. Well, there were two at the time: we had Nancy Kassebaum on the Republican side, Barbara Mikulski on the Democratic side and that was really it. And so the fact that the Senate was 98 percent rich, white, and male, and that there was nobody reflecting the rest of America there who could even explain it to them, what was going on, really infuriated a lot of people. When the vote came, in spite of all the opportunities from the women in my state, Dixon voted to confirm Clarence Thomas. And it happened in kind of almost serendipity, again--. It happened that he did so on a Thursday, I think the vote was on a Thursday evening, we're checking this, either Thursday or Friday. But whatever happened, his office was closed for the next two days because of the hot weekend, and then there was the Columbus Day holiday. So he went either three or four days--I think it was either three or four days, it could have even been five, I think four is right--in which his phones weren't being answered at all. And you had women from all over Illinois calling to protest and their phone calls were not getting answered at all. So that just poured salt in the wound and exasperated the anger at the vote that he had made. And so at that point, I was still recorder of deeds and I got a letter from a man in Murphysboro, Illinois. I finally remembered the name of the town, Murphysboro. Murphysboro is down in far southern Illinois. And this person had apparently done some business with the Recorder of Deeds office. Remember, this was an office that before I got there, the term right before [Harry] Bus Yourell--. In fact, ten people who had worked in that office had gone to jail under federal indictments for taking bribes. So it was an office that had been rife with corruption, had been just a bureaucratic nightmare to get through. The employees were dispirited and disheartened. The public hated using it. It was just a bad situation. Anyway, so this guy wrote and he said, basically, "I've used your office many times over the years and I have to tell you I've never seen it work as nicely as it does now. The people are actually friendly and they are nice and they won't take tips and dat, dat, dat", he went on. And he says, "I think you should run for Senate." And so I really--. The letter became a real comment because it was like, wait a minute, I got people down in Murphysboro, Illinois, saying I should run for the Senate. There must be something to this. At the time there were two other women who were interested, kind of. Marge Benson, Marge Benton, who had been involved in Democratic Party politics, and who was a wealthy woman in her own right, Marge was flirting with it a little bit. And then Susan Getzendanner was flirting with it a little bit. But as it turned out, because I was a person already in an elective office, I had the constituency base from which to move immediately into a campaign. And so, even though, at the time, like I said, there was more protest politics than anything else, we started our little campaign and that was the beginning of it.$Well, understand, the things, my mother [Edna Davie Moseley] didn't happen until October.$$Yeah, it was right before the election.$$That was the October surprise in my election. And it was such an October surprise, I mean you're a lawyer, right? It was a situation in which I had no legal interest, culpability, or anything. It was like why are you talking to me about this? But that was a function of not fully appreciating the, what's the word I'm looking for? Not fully appreciating that so much of politics is about image as opposed to substance. And so it had nothing to do, really, with the substance of anything. My mother had not done anything wrong. I had not done anything wrong. But the images were painted around that situation that looked like she was a welfare cheat and I was trying to cover up for her or was part of causing her to be a welfare cheat. However it got spun, it was a very, very, negative kind of a thing. And that started in October. And when that started, it was funny, because I had a conversation at the time with my press guy. And he was saying, "Well, we've gotta respond to whatever it was," he said, "or were gonna look up and find the press will turn on us." And I said to him, "Don't you understand? They already have." I mean, it was almost a visceral type of thing. I could just sense that the press had ignored me in the primary, glorified me over the summer months--it was the campaign from, you know, Ms. Smith goes to Washington or whatever--and then when the October surprise came, then they proceeded to try to demonize. They got on that stick and they just wouldn't let up.$$And that continued even after you were elected?$$Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.$$So talk about that. There were the issues of going to Africa, you know, all those issues that came about and you said, "I would have looked at things different. I would look at things in terms of image." But I'm just wondering how you felt going into it. I mean, wondrous, incredible high, you know, the first black, female senator ever in the history of the United States.$$Right.$$But I'm just wondering what's happening in your mindset.$$I have a different mindset about it now than I had then, obviously. I guess in those days, I was always really perplexed and confused why I wasn't being treated like everybody else. You know, I mean, I was looking to be a legislator. And again, this is part of the pond lesson, you know, that having been a state legislator, and an effective one, etc., etc., I just knew that some of that good will, reputation, history, experience, whatever, would translate over. Number one, that there would be enough people on the national scene who would have some sense of what kind of a legislator, much less, what kind of a person I was from my Springfield days. Well, wrong. Absolute disconnect. I mean, I could have started off having been a cleaning lady. And, you know, cleaning lady, frankly, in part was some of the imagery that was out there. I mean, the stories about, you know, working single mom. When I first got in the Senate, the [Chicago] Tribune Magazine did a thing and I'm standing up in front of a desk. The picture on the front of the little magazine cover has me standing in front of a desk and I've got on a scarf. I think I may have been wearing the same suit, or close to it. But anyway, letters that came in later: Carol Moseley Braun, who does she think she is? She's standing there wearing an Armani scarf with a Waterford crystal biscuit jar on the desk behind her and I know how much those things cost. How can she afford that? So the notion was that I had come out of abject poverty or something, out of the bowels of the ghetto, and catapulted myself based on stolen campaign money into this position of prominence. I mean, all the negative images were set loose. And, again my state legislative work, all that time, all the effort, none of that mattered at all in that regard. In terms of what I would have done differently, again, it had to do with manipulating the images more than anything else. And I could not understand why I was looked at to be a symbol, why I was being looked at to be a role model, why I was being looked at to be, you know, Oprah goes to Washington. Oprah got mad at me for saying that, actually, but anyway, I shouldn't say it again. But, why those things were, those expectations were not being met when as far as I was concerned, I had been elected to be a legislator. And the whole idea was that I was gonna go Washington and I was gonna participate in the legislative process, and I was going to pass bills, and I was gonna initiate legislation, and that that was all that I would be required to do. And nothing could have been further from the truth.$$Now you said you did have your agenda. You got a plum assignment.$$Oh yeah.$$You got to talk about--.$$I got a plum assignment and I got more bills passed. I mean, I'm really proud of my legislative record. If anything, it does show that my priorities weren't too far off because I did what I set out to do as a legislator. But even the plum assignment--I was the first woman in history to get a permanent seat on the Senate Finance Committee--and if you read the clips from the Chicago papers they made it sound like some down and dirty, low-down, backroom Chicago smoke-filled room deal. I mean, literally. It kind of, you know, she manipulated her way with some backroom politics onto the Finance Committee. They couldn't even celebrate that. It was astonishing. So I found that even my victories were diminished, were not celebrated. And the things that were even marginally on the edge, a lot of--. For months they wrote that I had failed to show up for Senate orientation. There's a picture of me on the front page of the New York Times that says woman senator is at senator orientation. I was not only at senator orientation but I am on the front page above the fold in the New York Times and yet they kept saying that. I went to Africa, you mentioned that. Everybody else went on vacation. I had just had almost a year of campaigning. And so, when I went off after the election on the post-election two week holiday, which is kind of standard, you know, it was a big hairy deal in my case because I wasn't supposed to do that, I guess.$$I can say, I thought there was a difference in reporting, as time went on in Washington D.C. where you were, very well respected and in Chicago there was still a lot of mud-slinging.$$Well, it stayed that way. The Chicago press just stayed absolutely brutal. And, you know, maybe if I'd gotten reelected it would have changed. But whatever, that's just the way it was.

The Honorable Roland Burris

Born in Centralia, Illinois, on August 30, 1937, Roland Burris received his bachelor's degree in political science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1959. He then studied at the University of Hamburg, Germany, for a year before entering law school at Howard University.

Burris began his career in 1963 as a national bank examiner for the U.S. Treasury Department. This gave him the honor of being the first African American to examine banks in the United States. From 1964 to 1973, he served as vice president of Continental Illinois National Bank, making significant contacts in both the corporate and African American communities. Burris began his government career in 1973 as director of the Illinois Department of General Services. In 1978, with his election to the first of three terms as state comptroller, he made history as the first African American elected to state office. On November 6, 1990, Roland W. Burris was elected attorney general for the state of Illinois. At that time, the only African American ranking higher in state office was Douglas Wilder, the governor of Virginia. He served as Illinois attorney general from 1991 to 1995. In 1998, Burris unsuccessfully ran for the office of Governor of the State of Illinois.

After his public service career, Burris worked as an attorney with the Peters law firm in Chicago, where he specialized in environmental, consumer affairs and estate law. Previously, he was managing partner of the Chicago-based law firm of Jones, Ware & Grenard, one of the largest minority law firms in the country.

Burris returned to public service on December 30, 2008 when Governor Rod Blagojevich appointed him as a U.S. Senator, filling the seat formerly held by Barack Obama. On January 15, 2009, Burris was sworn in as a U.S. Senator, representing the State of Illinois.

Accession Number

A2000.011

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/24/2000

Last Name

Burris

Maker Category
Schools

Lincoln School

Centralia High School

Southern Illinois University

University of Hamburg

Howard University School of Law

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Roland

Birth City, State, Country

Centralia

HM ID

BUR03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

Only the best is good enough.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/30/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fruit, Vegetables

Short Description

State attorney general, state comptroller, and U.S. senator The Honorable Roland Burris (1937 - ) was the first African American in Illinois elected to state office, where he served as state comptroller and as attorney general before being appointed to the United States Senate in 2008.

Employment

United States Comptroller of Currency, Chicago

Continental Illinois National Bank, Chicago

Illinois Dept. of General Services

State of Illinois

Jones, Ware & Grenard

Buford & Peters LLC

Burris & Lebed Consulting LLC

Burris, Wright, Slaughter & Tom, LLC

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roland Burris interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Roland Burris's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Roland Burris describes his childhood in Centralia, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roland Burris describes how integrating the public pool inspired his career in law and public service

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his academic success

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roland Burris recalls his political ambitions after graduating from Howard University Law School

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roland Burris relates his family's history

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roland Burris describes his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roland Burris discusses deaths in his family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Roland Burris learns important lessons from his family

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Roland Burris describes housing at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roland Burris describes the strong black community in Centralia, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roland Burris describes his personality as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roland Burris explains his decision to attend Southern Illinois University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roland Burris talks about remaining active with his alma maters

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his efforts to integrate Carbondale, Illinois in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roland Burris discusses his time as an exchange student in Hamburg, Germany

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roland Burris describes his journey to Howard University's law school in Washington, D.C.: Part I

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roland Burris describes his journey to Howard University's law school: Part II

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roland Burris remembers his time as a law student at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roland Burris discusses the advantages of attending law school at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roland Burris describes his job search following law school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roland Burris discusses his search for a job in the banking industry

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roland Burris describes being undervalued at Continental Illinois National Bank

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roland Burris overcomes racism and succeeds at Continental Illinois National Bank

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Roland Burris describes making political connections in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Roland Burris describes his first run for political office

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Roland Burris recalls racism from whites and skepticism from other black employees as he rose at Continental Bank, Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Roland Burris details how he made a name for himself in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Roland Burris becomes the first black man in Illinois history to be elected to a statewide office

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Roland Burris continues with his story of becoming the first elected black statewide officeholder

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his various political offices in the 1970s and 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Roland Burris contemplates reasons for his political success and comments on his 1990 election as Illinois Attorney General

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Roland Burris discusses his skills at dealing with people as comptroller for the state of Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Roland Burris talks about taking over the office of Illinois Comptroller

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Roland Burris analyzes his significance as the first black Illinois Comptroller

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Roland Burris discusses his work as Attorney General of Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Roland Burris recalls his runs for governor of Illinois and mayor of Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Roland Burris talks about his community and legal work in 2000

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Roland Burris talks about African American political power

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Roland Burris discusses Illinois's black politicians

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Roland Burris remembers figures who influenced his success

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Roland Burris discusses his wife and her educational and career pursuits

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Roland Burris considers his sense of direction in life

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his children's accomplishments

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Roland Burris considers his legacy