Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was born on November 30, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York to parents who immigrated to the United States. She graduated from Brooklyn College in 1946, began her career as a teacher and went on to earn a Master's degree in elementary education from Columbia University. Chisholm served as director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center from 1953 to 1959, and as an educational consultant for New York City's Bureau of Child Welfare from 1959 to 1964. In 1968, she made history as she became the first African-American woman elected to the United States Congress representing New York's 12th Congressional district for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. During her time in office, Chisholm served on the House Agriculture Committee where she worked to expand the Food Stamp Program. She also introduced legislation that focused on gender and racial equality, along with ending the Vietnam War. Chisholm spoke often about the opportunities that she and other marginalized people weren’t able to access because they looked different than the norm.
In the 1972 United States presidential election, she made history again by becoming the first African-American woman of a major party seeking nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. After her unsuccessful bid for President, Chisholm continued serving in the House of Representatives. In 1977, she was elected as Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus. Chisholm retired from Congress in 1983, where she was succeeded by Major Owens. After leaving Congress, she taught at Mount Holyoke College and gave multiple lectures, visiting over 150 campuses. She was also the author of two books, Unbought and Unbossed (1970) and The Good Fight (1973).
In 2015, Chisholm was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair"-- Shirley Chisholm
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Unbought and Unbossed by Shirley Chisholm
The Good Fight by Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm - The First Black Congresswoman
video length: 2min
Conversation with Shirley A. Chisholm (Talking Leadership series)
video length: 26min