Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm

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Shirley Anita Chisholm, born Née St. Hill on November 30, 1924. She died on January 1, 2005 but was known as an American politician, educator, and author. In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, representing New York’s 12th congressional district for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In the 1972 United States presidential election, she became the first African-American candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

Born in Brooklyn, Chisolm studied and worked in early childhood education, becoming involved in local Democratic party politics in the 1950s. In 1964, overcoming some resistance because she was a woman, she was elected to the New York State Assembly. Four years later she was elected to Congress, where she led expansion of food and nutrition programs for the poor and rose to party leadership. She retired from Congress in 1983 and taught at Mt Holyoke College, while continuing her political organizing. Although nominated for an ambassadorship in 1993, health issues caused her to withdraw. In 2015, Chisholm was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

After Jones chose to accept a judicial appointment rather than run for reelection, Chisholm sought to run for his seat in the New York state assembly in 1964. Chishom faced resistance based on her sex with the UDC hesitant to support a female candidate. Chisholm chose to appeal directly to women voters, including using her role as Brooklyn branch president of Key Women of America to mobilize female voters. Chisholm won the Democratic primary in June 1964.She then won the seat in December with over 18,000 votes over Republican and Liberal party candidates, neither of which received more than 1,900 votes.

Chisholm was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1965 to 1968, sitting in the 175th, 176th and 177th New York State Legislatures. By May 1965 she had already been honored in a “Salute to Women Doers” affair in New York. One of her early activities in the Assembly was to argue against the state’s literacy test requiring English, holding that just because a person “functions better in his native language is no sign a person is illiterate”. By early 1966 she was a leader in a push by the statewide Council of Elected Negro Democrats for black representation on key committees in the Assembly.

Her successes in the legislature included getting unemployment benefits extended to domestic workers. She also sponsored the introduction of a SEEK program (Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge) to the state, which provided disadvantaged students the chance to enter college while receiving intensive remedial education.

In August 1968, she was elected as the Democratic National Committeewoman from New York State.

Chisholm began exploring her candidacy in July 1971, and formally announced her presidential bid on January 25, 1972, in a Baptist church in her district in Brooklyn. There she called for a “bloodless revolution” at the forthcoming Democratic nomination convention. Chisholm became the first Black major-party candidate to run for President of the United States, in the 1972 U.S. presidential election, making her also the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination (U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith had previously run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964). In her presidential announcement, Chisholm described herself as representative of the people and offered a new articulation of American identity: “I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and equally proud of that. I am the candidate of the people and my presence before you symbolizes a new era in American political history.”

Resources

Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb by Veronica Chambers

Shirley Chisholm famously said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” This dynamic biography illuminates how Chisholm was a doer, an active and vocal participant in our nation’s democracy, and a force to be reckoned with. Now young readers will learn about her early years, her time in Congress, her presidential bid and how her actions left a lasting legacy that continues to inspire, uplift, and instruct.

She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm by Kathryn Russell- Brown

Even as a young child growing up in the 1920s, Shirley Chisholm was a leader. At the age of three, older children were already following her lead in their Brooklyn neighborhood. 

As a student at Brooklyn College, Shirley could outtalk anyone who opposed her on the debate team. After graduating, she used her voice and leadership to fight for educational change. In community groups, she stood up for the rights of women and minorities. Her small stature and fiery determination often took people by surprise. But they listened. 

In 1964, Shirley took her voice and leadership to politics, becoming the first Black woman elected to the New York State Assembly, and in 1968, the first Black woman elected to Congress. Then in 1972, she became the first Black woman to seek the presidency of the United States. She pushed for laws that helped women, children, students, poor people, farm workers, Native people, and others who were often ignored. She fought for healthcare. She spoke up for military veterans. She spoke out against war 

Shirley Chisholm, a woman of many firsts, was an unforgettable political trailblazer, a candidate of the people and catalyst of change who opened the door for women in the political arena and for the first Black president of the United States.

Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress by Alicia D. Williams

Meet Shirley, a little girl who asks way too many questions! After spending her early years on her grandparents’ farm in Barbados, she returns home to Brooklyn and immediately makes herself known. Shirley kicks butt in school; she breaks her mother’s curfew; she plays jazz piano instead of classical. And as a young adult, she fights against the injustice she sees around her, against women and black people. Soon she is running for state assembly…and winning in a landslide. Three years later, she is on the campaign trail again, as the first black woman to run for Congress. Her slogan? “Fighting Shirley Chisholm–Unbought and Unbossed!” Does she win? You bet she does.

I'm the mom to Matthew, which we run and own Matthew's Kitchen. I'm 27 and studying to be a pastry chef. I love to cook and bake but my passion is in the pastry arts. Matthew is a 5 year old who began cooking when he was 1. Through the years he has not only gained valuable skills but has grown his palette. Together we want to share our passion for food with you and your family
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