Shirley Chisholm, Activist & Speaker


by Burt Dubin on March 20, 2012

Shirley Chisholm, activist & speaker

1. Born Shirley St. Hill on November 30, 1924 in New York City. Chisholm spent part of her childhood in Barbados with her grandmother and graduated from Brooklyn College in 1946. She began her career as a teacher and earned a Master’s degree in elementary education from Columbia University. She served as director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center from 1953 to 1959 as an educational consultant to New York City’s Bureau of Child Welfare from 1959 to 1964.

2. In 1969, Chisholm became the first black congresswoman and began the first of seven terms. After initially being assigned to the House Forestry Committee, she shocked many by demanding reassignment. She was placed on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, eventually graduating to the Education and Labor Committee. She became one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969.

3. Her now famous address to the US House of Representatives in May 1969 articulated her passionate belief in improving the lot of the socially disadvantaged and highlighted the then unfair treatment of women.

4. She became the first African American woman to make a bid to be President of the United States when she ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972. A champion of minority education and employment opportunities throughout her tenure in Congress, she sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment and got it passed by the U.S Congress.

5. She left congress in 1983 to teach at Mount Holyoke College and became popular on the lecture circuit.

6. In 1993 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.  She died in 2005.

7. Quotes from her speeches:

“I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States of America.  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 I am equally proud of that.”

“I have been far oftener discriminated against because I am a woman that because I am black.”

“Mr. Speaker, House Joint Resolution 264, before us today, which provides for equality under the law for both men and women, represents one of the most clear-cut opportunities we are likely to have to declare our faith in the principles that shaped our Constitution.”

“The time is clearly now to put this House on record for the fullest expression of that equality of opportunity which our founding fathers professed. They professed it, but they did not assure it to their daughters, as they tried to do for their sons”




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