Shirley Chisholm


Jada Sardin

Shirley Chisholm was born in a predominantly black neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York in 1924. She spent some time of her childhood with her grandmother in Barbados. She graduated from Brooklyn College in 1946 and got her master’s degree in elementary education at Columbia University, where her professors encouraged her to pursue a political career. She became a nursery school teacher. In the 1960s, she joined numerous organizations fighting against racial and gender inequality including the League of Women Voters, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Urban League, as well as the Democratic Party club in Brooklyn. Chisholm became the second African American in the New York State Legislature in 1964. In 1968, Shirley Chisholm made history by becoming the first African American congresswoman, and serving seven terms in the house of representatives. She was placed in the House of Forestry, then the Veterans’ Affair Committee, and then the Education and Labor Committee. In 1972, Chisholm ran the democratic party for presidency. She faced endless backlash, she was threatened daily, and she even survived three assassination attempts. One thing that she said during her campaign was, “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 the candidate of the people, and my presence before you now symbolizes a new era in American political history.” Unfortunately, she lost the democratic election to George McGovern. She died January 1, 2005, at the age of 80.