On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents an encore presentation of a conversation he had with the late Shirley A. Chisholm.
Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress and an outspoken advocate for women and minorities during her seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was known as a politician who refused to allow fellow politicians, including the male-dominated Congressional Black Caucus, to sway her from her goals.
Born Shirley Anita St. Hill on November 30, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York. She was the eldest of four girls. Chisholm and her sisters spent much of their early childhood with their maternal grandmother in Barbados.
In 1964, she ran for a state assembly seat. After winning the election by a landslide, she served in the New York General Assembly from 1964 to 1968. During her tenure, she sponsored a bill that instituted S.E.E.K. (Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge), a program that provided college funding to disadvantaged youth. She also introduced a bill that secured unemployment insurance for domestics and day-care providers.
In 1968, Chisholm campaigned to represent New York’s 12th Congressional District. She won the seat and became the first African American woman elected to Congress. During her first term, she hired an all-female staff, and spoke out for civil rights, women’s rights, and poor people. Also, she was against the Vietnam War.
On January 25, 1972, Chisholm announced her candidacy for the presidency, becoming the first African American woman to do so. The 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami, Florida, became the first major convention in which any woman was considered for the presidential nomination. She did not win the nomination, but she garnered 151 of the delegates’ votes. Chisholm served in the U.S. House until she retired in 1982.
On January 1, 2005, Shirley A. Chisholm passed away in Daytona Beach, Florida. She was 80 years old.