Black History Month: Shirley Chisholm
“I want to be remembered as a woman who dared to be a catalyst of change.”
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - She’s known to have spoke her mind and when it came to politics, she took the nation by storm. Shirley Chisholm refused to just be another Black in American society.
She was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1924 and became the first African American woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress. Chisholm was the daughter to immigrants; her mother was from Barbados and her father was from Guyana. Despite her background and the challenges she faced, she graduated from Brooklyn Girls High in 1942 and from Brooklyn College Cum Laude in 1946, where she found her niche, the debate team.
She worked as a nursery school teacher where she decided to continue her education at Columbia University with a Masters in Early Childhood Education in 1951. Facing racism on a daily basis, she became involved in local chapters, one being the League of Women Voters. In 1964, Chisholm became the second African American in the New York State Legislature, where she later won a Democratic seat in Congress in 1968.
Known as “Fighting Shirley” she introduced more than 50 pieces of legislation and championed racial and gender equality among many other progressive campaigns. In 1977, she became the first Black woman, and second woman ever, to serve on the powerful House Rules Committee. Discrimination followed her quest for the 1972 Democratic party presidential nomination, blocking televised primary debates. She gained a total of 152 delegate votes, which was 10% of the total despite her under-financed campaign.
Chisholm retired from congress in 1983. she cofounded the national political congress of black women.
Of her legacy, Chisholm said, “I want to be remembered as a woman who dared to be a catalyst of change.”
Chisholm died Jan. 1, 2005. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 by President Barack Obama.
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