Celebrating Black History

Honoring Contemporary Black Women

Public Servant Day 4

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Eleanor Holmes Norton 

Eleanor Holmes Norton (born June 13, 1937) is a Delegate to the United States Congress representing the District of Columbia.

Eleanor Holmes was born in Washington, D.C., to Coleman Holmes, a civil servant, and Vela Holmes née Lynch, a schoolteacher. She attended Antioch College (B.A. 1960), Yale University (M.A. in American Studies 1963) and Yale Law School (LL.B 1964).

While in college and graduate school, she was active in the civil rights movement and an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Upon graduation from law school, she worked as a law clerk to Federal District Court Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. In 1965, she became the assistant legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, a position she held until 1970. Holmes Norton specialized in freedom of speech cases, and her work included winning a Supreme Court case on behalf of the National States’ Rights Party,  a victory she put into perspective in an interview with one of the District of Columbia Bar’s website editors: “I defended the First Amendment, and you seldom get to defend the First Amendment by defending people you like … You don’t know whether the First Amendment is alive and well until it is tested by people with despicable ideas. In 1970, Mayor John Lindsay appointed her as the head of the New York City Human Rights Commission, and she held the first hearings in the country on discrimination against women. Prominent feminists from throughout the country came to New York City to testify, while Norton used the platform as a means of raising public awareness about the application of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to women and sex discrimination. In 1970, Norton represented sixty female employees of Newsweek who had filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Newsweek had a policy of only allowing men to be reporters. The women won, and Newsweek agreed to allow women to be reporters.

Carol Moseley Braun

Carol Moseley Braun 

Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun, also sometimes Moseley-Braun (born August 16, 1947), is an American politician and lawyer who represented Illinois in the United States Senate from 1993 to 1999. She was the first female African-American Senator, the first African-American U.S. Senator for the Democratic Party, the first woman to defeat an incumbent U.S. Senator in an election, and the first female Senator from Illinois. From 1999 until 2001, she was the United States Ambassador to New Zealand. She was a candidate for the Democratic nomination during the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Following the public announcement by Richard M. Daley that he would not seek re-election, in November 2010, Braun began her campaign for Mayor of Chicago.

Carol Elizabeth Moseley was born in Chicago, Illinois. She attended public and parochial schools. She attended Ruggles School for elementary school, and she attended Parker High School (now the site of Paul Robeson High School) in Chicago.

She began her college studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, but dropped out after four months. She then majored in political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, graduating in 1969 and earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1972.

As an attorney, Moseley Braun was a prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s office in Chicago from 1973 to 1977. An Assistant United States Attorney, she worked primarily in the civil and appellate law areas. Her work in housing, health policy, and environmental law won her the Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award.

 

Shelia Jackson Lee

Sheila Jackson Lee 

Sheila Jackson Lee (born January 12, 1950) is the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 18th congressional district, serving since 1995. The district includes most of inner-city Houston. She is a member of the Democratic Party.

Jackson Lee graduated from Jamaica High School in Queens. She earned a B.A. in political science from Yale University in 1972, followed by a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1975. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Jackson Lee made three unsuccessful attempts at local judgeships before becoming a municipal judge from 1987 to 1990. Jackson Lee, along with Sylvia Garcia, was appointed by then Mayor of Houston Kathy Whitmire. In 1989 she won the at-large position for a seat on the Houston City Council, serving until 1994. While on the city council, Jackson Lee helped pass a safety ordinance that required parents to keep their guns away from children. She also worked for expanded summer hours at city parks and recreation centers as a way to combat gang violence.

Jackson Lee moved to Houston after her husband, Elwyn C. Lee, took a job at the University of Houston. Her husband now holds a dual position of Vice Chancellor and Vice President for Student Affairs of the University of Houston System and the University of Houston, respectively.

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