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April 1, 2002

Moseley-Braun calls for empowerment

By Eric Rangus


The empowerment of women and how the world would be better for it was the theme of former senator Carol Moseley-Braun’s speech, Monday, March 25 in Cannon Chapel.

Referencing a quote from abolitionist Sojourner Truth, Moseley-Braun, the first African American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, called her 30-minute address “Right Side Up.”

It was a phrase Moseley-Braun used in several instances to represent an upside-down world that needs a bit of adjusting. Not only do men and women need to work together to foster change, Moseley-Braun said, but Ameri-cans of both sexes must remember the accomplishments—as well as the struggles—of the past to make a brighter future.

“If we make a full and honest reference to our past as Americans, we will see more clearly the path to turning the world right side up,” she said.

“The empowerment of women is not a matter of self-interest to those of us who are female,” Moseley-Braun said. “Men should look forward to the empowerment of women. Together we can shape the world in an American image.”

The keynote speech of Emory’s Women’s History Month celebration, Moseley-Braun’s address also served as the fifth annual Jessica Glasser Memorial Lecture. Glasser, a 1996 graduate of Emory College with high honors in women’s studies and political science, was killed in automobile accident shortly after earning her degree. Her family has endowed a lecture series in her name.

Moseley-Braun’s appearance was cosponsored by the Institute for Women’s Studies, Emory Women’s Center, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and President’s Commission on the Status of Women. Frances Smith Foster, director of the Institute for Women’s Studies, introduced the former senator. Following her speech, Moseley-Braun answered audience questions.

The evening was particularly significant for the Women’s Center, as the event doubled as the kickoff for its 10th anniversary celebration.

Following a career in state and local government that included 10 years in the Illinois legislature, Moseley-Braun was elected to the Senate in 1992. After losing a bid for re-election in 1998, Moseley-Braun was named ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa in 1999, a post she held until last year. In fall 2001, Moseley-Braun accepted a visiting professorship at Morris Brown College, where she is teaching courses in political science and working on a book. She also is vice president of the Atlanta-based consulting firm GoodWorks International.

Moseley-Braun said that while American women have made tremendous gains in the last century and are relatively well-positioned among the world’s women, there is still a great deal of work to do.

American women must struggle to break the glass ceiling in business, close the pay gap with men and remove barriers to opportunity and achievement, Moseley-Braun said, adding that American women also are obligated to help disadvantaged women throughout the world.

“We have a duty to help the less advantaged win the battle we have already fought,” she said. “We have to lift as we climb.”