On Nov. 3, 1992, Carol Moseley Braun made U.S. history, when she became the country’s first African American woman elected to the Senate, beating out a 10-year incumbent. She also became the first woman Illinois ever elected to the seat.

Braun was born Aug. 16, 1947 in Chicago to Joseph Moseley, a law enforcement officer, and Edna who was a medical technician. She says her parents emphasized the importance of education and hard work. As a result, Moseley was a highly motivated young woman and worked at the post office and in grocery stores to finance her education. She earned her law degree from the University of Chicago, and afterwards served three years as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In 1978, she was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives.

Moseley is known for her advocacy in education. She sponsored the 1985 Urban School Improvement Act, which created parent councils at every school in Chicago. She also helped improve salaries for teachers and professors.

After she served in the senate, in 1999, President Bill Clinton appointed Moseley as ambassador to New Zealand.