Shirley Chisholm - Black Feminist Pioneer
As Black History Month ends and Women’s History Month begins, we wanted to honor a pioneer in the struggle for equal rights for both movements.
Shirley Anita Chisholm was a politician, educator, activist, community organizer and author.
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1924, as a child during the Great Depression - while her parents struggled to make ends meet - young Shirley and her two sisters were sent to Barbados to live with their Grandmother. Long before the Civil Rights movement in the United States, young
Shirley watched as her community advocated for their rights as she witnessed the Barbados workers' and anti-colonial independence movements. Chisholm would later say about her time on Barbados with her Grandmother: “Granny gave me strength, dignity, and love. I learned from an early age that I was somebody. I didn't need the Black Revolution to tell me that."
In 1964, after nearly two decades as an educator and community activist, Chisholm ran for and was elected to the New York State Assembly.
Even within the New York Democratic Party, Shirley Chisholm had faced resistance to candidacy based on her sex - so she took her
campaign directly to women, using her role as Brooklyn branch president of Key Women of America to mobilize female voters.
Four years later - in 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress, representing New York's 12th congressional district for seven terms from 1969 to 1983.
Her 1968 congressional campaign slogan was "Unbought and Unbossed" - which later became the title of her memoir and a documentary film on her amazing life.
On January 25, 1972, in a Baptist church in her district in Brooklyn - Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American candidate for a major party's nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
In her presidential announcement - she called for a "bloodless revolution" at the forthcoming Democratic nominating convention and described herself as representative of the people offering a new articulation of American identity:
"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 equally proud of that. I am the candidate of the people and my presence before you, symbolizes a new era in American political history."
Let’s listen to Civil Rights and Women’s Rights Pioneer Shirley Chisholm announce her candidacy for President of the United States.
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