Shirley Chisholm was an American politician, educator, and author.
Shirley was the first woman and black American woman to have ever run for presidential nominations under the United States Democratic party in 1972.
In 1968, she became the first African-American woman elected to the United States Congress and represented New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983 (Wikipedia).
Shirley Chisholm’s political significance was rekindled in 2008. It was during the Obama-Clinton presidential/political tussle. Shirley Chisholm had been cited at the time as she represents both parties – Barrack as an African-American and Hillary as a woman.
“In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing – anti-humanism.”- Shirley Chisholm
It’s been 44 years since the black American amazon made public her bid to run for the presidency of the United States of America. Shirley’s dream to be president did not come true but the very essence of running has motivated a lot in the United States, blacks and women alike.
According to the daring and intelligent woman, winning was not paramount on her list. She simply wanted to “change the face and future of American politics.” To show it was possible for blacks and women.
“I ran because most people thought the country was not ready for a black candidate, not ready for a woman candidate. Someday, it was time in 1972 to make that someday come.”
Sadly, the Black American woman and political icon has become ‘easily forgotten’. She only comes into the picture in political history and rare occasions. Nevertheless, those who have come to know her have been inspired by her personality.
Kimaya Davis is a 22-year-old who works for a congressional committee. She testifies to the impact of the life and history of Shirley in her choice of career.
“She paved the way for me to be able to set foot on Capitol Hill… It’s because of her that I was able to get that internship – it helps young black students. A lot of kids like me, we don’t have family connections and privilege.”– Kimaya Davis
Shirley Chisholm founded the Congressional Black Caucus where Davis worked as an intern. The Caucus represents black members of Congress.
She is famous for saying,
“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”.
This literally suggests determination and tenacity in life’s pursuit. In one word, guts. She has said that she would love to be remembered as the woman who “had guts.” Her famous slogan was “Unbought and Unbossed”.
Shirley fought and defended underprivileged and minority groups. She was instrumental to the setting up of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (Wic), which provided support for pregnant women.
Shirley Chisholm defended the rights of domestic workers; thus pushed through with a bill to that effect. She made significant contributions to improved and accessible education, childcare for women and protecting the interests of immigrants.
Thanks to Shirley, such initiative as the national school lunch bill was realized. She helped to establish the national commission on consumer protection and product safety.
Last year, Chisholm was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Obama had this to say about her during the occasion:
“There are people in our country’s history who don’t look left or right – they just look straight ahead. Shirley Chisholm was one of those people.”
Shirley Chisholm served 7 terms in Congress. She retired in 1982 and returned to teaching. In 2005, the political icon and role model especially for the black community passed away at the age of 80.