Moseley-Braun made history in 1992 when she was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming the first black woman to do so. She upset two-term incumbent Alan Dixon in the Democratic primary and went on to defeat Republican candidate Richard Williamson. As a senator, she sponsored several progressive education bills and championed strong gun control laws. She served on the judiciary, banking, housing and urban affairs, and small business committees. Her career suffered when it was revealed that she used campaign money to cover personal expenses, helped to loosen legal restrictions to facilitate the sale of two broadcasting companies, and promoted legislation that favored a corporate donor. She lost her 1998 reelection bid. In 1999 she was confirmed as ambassador to New Zealand.
A Chicago native and lifelong resident, Moseley-Braun graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1969 and earned a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1972. She was an assistant U.S. attorney from 1972 to 1978, when she was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. She served in the statehouse for 10 years, making education reform her priority. From 1988 to 1992 she was Cook County recorder of deeds. In Sept. 2003, she announced her candidacy for U.S. president but pulled out in Jan. 2004, giving her endorsement to Howard Dean. She was married to Michael Braun from 1973 to 1986 and has one son.