taking action

Women and political action

Remembering Shirley Chisholm, 1924-2005


Shirley Chisholm

(b. November 20, 1924, Brooklyn, N.Y.), the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress and the first woman to campaign for the presidency, known for her incisive debating style and uncompromising integrity.

"I know I will survive, I'm a fighter.

Of my two "handicaps" being femal
e put more obstacles in my path than being black..."

Shirley Chisholm as political activist:

..."In 1964 Chisholm ran for a state assembly seat. She won and served in the New York General Assembly from 1964 to 1968.

During her tenure in the legislature, she proposed a bill to provide state aid to day-care centers and voted to increase funding for schools on a per-pupil basis. In 1968, After finishing her term in the legislature, Chisholm campaigned to represent New York's Twelfth Congressional District. Her campaign slogan was "Fighting Shirley Chisholm--Unbought and Unbossed." She won the election and became the first African American woman elected to Congress. During her first term in Congress, Chisholm hired an all-female staff and spoke out for civil rights, women's rights, the poor and against the Vietnam War. In 1970, she was elected to a second term. She was a sought-after public speaker and cofounder of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She remarked that, "Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes."

On January 25, 1972, Chisholm announced her candidacy for president. She stood before the cameras and in the beginning of her speech she said,

"I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States. 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 I am equally proud of that. I am not the candidate of any political bosses or special interests. I am the candidate of the people."

--- Shirley Chisholm biography

From the papers:

NY Post January 04, 2005, posted on africana.com

"Shirley Chisholm, the former Brooklyn congresswoman who died last week end at 80, was more than just the first African-American woman elected to Congress and the first black major-party presidential candidate.

She was, appropriately, a trailblazer and she made clear from the outset that she was not one to sit quietly and mind her place. Her fiery passion made her someone to be reckoned with... "

Chisholm, 80, Is Dead; 'Unbossed' Pioneer in Congress
 By James Barron, The New York Times, posted on truthout.org
 Monday 03 January 2005

 "Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to serve in Congress and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, died on Saturday night at her home in Ormond Beach, Fla. She was 80. She had suffered several strokes recently, according to a former staff member, William Howard.

  Mrs. Chisholm was an outspoken, steely educator-turned-politician who shattered racial and gender barriers as she became a national symbol of liberal politics in the 1960's and 1970's. Over the years, she also had a way of making statements that angered the establishment, as in 1974, when she asserted that "there is an undercurrent of resistance" to integration "among many blacks in areas of concentrated poverty and discrimination" - including in her own district in Brooklyn..."

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