Last Thursday, former Democratic presidential candidate Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun spoke to over 300 students, faculty, staff and community members in Strong Auditorium. “This month is Black History Month,” junior and President of Black Students’ Union LaShara Evans said. “It is very fitting that we have Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun here as our keynote speaker. She demonstrates not only what an African American woman can accomplish but also what all African Americans can accomplish in continuing to make contributions not only to this country but also to the world.”Moseley Braun spoke about how America has struggled to achieve the ideals upon which it was founded. Through personal and historical anecdotes, Moseley Braun showed how personal advocacy is the foundation of the political process.Recounting her political beginnings, Moseley Braun said, “I got involved in a fight to save a local park – we lost, but my co-protestors encouraged me to stand for the Illinois House of Representatives in 1977. It was not the people who encouraged me who jump started my campaign for public office but the people who told me not to do it. People came up to me and said, ‘Don’t run, you can’t possibly win. Blacks won’t vote for you because you’re not part of the Chicago political machine, whites won’t vote for you because you’re black and nobody’s going to vote for you because you’re a woman.’ I hadn’t been inclined to run, but this lit a fire under me.”Moseley Braun believes that her story of success is proof of the progress that America has made towards meeting the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. “I have been fortunate to be the beneficiary of the efforts of a lot of ordinary people who have moved this country in the direction of its highest ideals,” Moseley Braun said. “Without the many individual contributions, we wouldn’t be so far.”Her speech was centered on a theme for progress through individual involvement not only for African Americans, but also for all people. “Every person makes a difference,” Moseley Braun said. “American’s real contribution to the world is a vision of individual rights which is as revolutionary today as it was 200 years ago. It is up to us to make this generation the one that can transform that vision into a universal reality by working together.”Following her speech, Moseley Braun answered questions from the audience. Many of the questions focused on her recent presidential campaign. One student asked whether or not democrats could win the general election in November. “Start with the notion that in 2000 the democratic nominee got more votes than the president,” Moseley Braun said. “Start there, then add the people who are upset about the record deficit, then add the people who are upset about the Patriot Act, then add the people who care about the environment, then add the people who are afraid about the exporting of jobs, then add the people who are upset about the government exposing CIA agents and nasty politics, then add the people who are upset radical judicial nominees, add the people who support gay marriage, then add the people who are tired of mismanagement, and the list continues and I think that you have a democratic majority.”At a press conference before the speech, media members asked Moseley Braun similar questions about her experiences on the campaign trail. “The highlight [of the campaign] for me was talking to people. Every time a young girl would come up and say ‘thank you for running’ – women my age would say ‘thank you for being courageous enough to step out’ – young girls had an expectation that this is the way it should be. The whole campaign was very inspirational.”When asked what advice she had for UR students contemplating a career in politics, Moseley Braun said, “Learn about government first, because politics is just as end to government. You can’t have control over the levers of government if you don’t understand what it should do-you won’t be able to ask the right questions and will become hostage to the horse race.”Moseley Braun’s appearance was co-sponsored by the Black Students’ Union, Department of Political Science Undergraduate Council, Fredrick Douglass Institute, Office of Minority Student Affairs and College Diversity Round Table.”I thought that the event went very well,” freshman and BSU event chairperson Marquis Harrison said. “Her speech was very good. She had a strong interaction with the audience throughout the event. Her message was directed at the greater audience of all Americans and the ideal way that we should look at the world and each other. She didn’t focus solely on race which is imperative to change.”

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