Unbought and Unbossed. Strong words from a strong heart. Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisolm was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1924 to loving immigrant parents from Barbados and Guiana, factory and domestic workers, and went on to a spectacular political career.
Chisholm is remembered as the first Black Woman elected to United States Congress. Shirley should also be remembered for holding her head high and moving forward with what is right. When in College the Black members of the debate team were denied access to a social event, so Chisolm founded her own new debate team. When new to Congress she was assigned to the Agriculture Committee, an obvious slight (given she was from and representing Brooklyn, NY), Chisholm shocked many but simply asked for a re-assignment. Eventually, Chisholm went to Veterans Affairs and the Education and Labor Committee.
In 1972, four years after entering the US Congress, Chisholm ran for President of the United States of America. She won 430,703 votes in the Democratic Primary with votes registered in 14 states. Not enough votes to win the Democratic Nomination and run head to head with the Republican Candidate, but certainly enough to be “remembered as a woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be a catalyst of change”, her wish.
After 14 years serving in the U.S. Congress, Chisholm became a professor of Politics and Sociology at Mount Holyoke College and then at Spelman College.
We have much to remember Shirley by, including The Shirley Chisholm Center for Research on Women at Brooklyn College, 2 Books, induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and of course the legislation she fought hard for. Chisolm introduced over 50 pieces of legislation, including securing rights for domestic workers, the Comprehensive Child Development Bill, fighting for inner city residents, was a voice of opposition on the Vietnam War, the Draft, reductions in Military spending and increases in Education, Health Care and so on. Chisholm was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971, as well as the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1972.
Bravo Ms. Chisholm, and thank you.