On November 5, 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to Congress, representing New York’s 12th District. She went on to serve seven terms.
In 1969, Chisholm became one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus and went on to become the first African American to make a bid to become President of the United States, running for a Democratic nomination in 1972.
Ms. Chisholm was a relentless supporter of minority and women’s issues. Throughout her tenure, she and her all female staff worked to improve opportunities for inner-city residents. She was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War and military draft, and supported spending increases for education, health care and other social services.
From nursery school teacher to social and political activist, Shirley Chisholm was a pioneer, blazing a trail for many women to follow, and for generations to come.
The woman who lived life by her own rules had lots to say, and here are just a few of our favorite Chisholm moments…
My greatest political asset, which professional politicians fear, is my mouth, out of which come all kinds of things one shouldn’t always discuss for reasons of political expediency.
You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.
My God, what do we want? What does any human being want? Take away an accident of pigmentation of a thin layer of our outer skin and there is no difference between me and anyone else. All we want is for that trivial difference to make no difference.
At present, our country needs women’s idealism and determination, perhaps more in politics than anywhere else.
In the end anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing… anti-humanism.
The emotional, sexual and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, “it’s a girl!”
Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.
I want history to remember me not just as the first black woman to be elected to Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself.
To learn more about Shirley Chisholm, check out Unbought and Unbossed, an account of her remarkable rise from young girl in Brooklyn to America’s first African-American Congresswoman.