Shirley Chisholm (1924 -2005)


“The emotional, sexual & psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: ‘it’s a girl’…”


Shirley Chisholm was born in Brooklyn to a Bajan mom & a Guyanese father. In 1928, at age 3, Chisholm & her 2 sisters were sent off to boarding school in the West Indies -a very common practice for black immigrant families- while her parents stayed behind in New York to earn a gainful living.
She returned to the U.S. at the age of 9 continuing her education, & after high school earned her BA in Sociology at Brooklyn College. While there she acquired a name for herself as a Prize-winning debater; a handy skill that served her well in her political career. Chisholm went on to receive her MA at Columbia. It was here she began her career as an educator, working at the nursery school.

Shortly after, in 1953 Chisholm became the director of 2 day care centers. By 1959 she was an educational consultant for New York City’s Division of Day Care; a position she held till 1964. In this year Chisholm, a member of the League of Women Voters, ran for the New York State Assembly. Shirley Chisholm was the 2nd African-American woman to serve on a state legislature. There she served as a Democratic member, focusing on unemployment benefits & education initiatives.
Chisholm became the 1st black woman to serve in congress in 1968.
She was said to have a way with words, known for her bold declarations. Chisholm considered herself a revolutionary at heart & in 1972 she was the 1st black person to run for a major party. & the 1st woman to compete for the Democratic nomination. Her campaign was historical.
Chisholm spoke out against injustices in the American Judicial system, police brutality, prison reform & gun control.
She received less funding than her peers, had to sue to be included in televised debates, all while enduring numerous threats; Including multiple assassination attempts, so much so, she was granted Secret Service protection.

Although Chisholm didn’t win the Democratic nomination; not surprising since the odds were stacked against her, she did win 10% of the votes within the party. She served another decade in the U.S House of Representatives & was a member of the Black Caucus. In 1982 she announced her retirement from congress, to return to her 1st love; educating. She taught politics & women’s studies as a Professor in Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts. In 1993 she was nominated by President Clinton for the position of Ambassador to Jamaica. Chisholm declined due to ill health. On the 1st of January, 2005 Shirley Chisholm passed away from complications due to some past health issues. She wishes to be remembered as a black woman who lived in the 20th Century & dared to be herself

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