Black Women Who Slayed History: Shirley Chisholm

This Black History Month, we’re highlighting the black woman who helped make our world what it is today. Today, we honor Shirley Chisholm. 

The name Shirley Chisholm isn’t mentioned in most of our history books, and that’s a shame.

As the first black woman to not only get elected to Congress, but also run for President — that’s right, president — she was a true political pioneer.

READ ALSO: How Shirley Chisholm Is Still Leaving Her Marks on Politics 

Shirley Chisholm was born back in 1924 in the fine borough where Galore headquarters calls home: Brooklyn, New York. 

After a short stint as a teacher, Chisholm realized there was more to life than trying to make bratty children learn and decided to run for political office.

After serving two terms in the New York state legislature, in 1968 Shirley decided to do something crazy. She decided to run for the US House of Representatives.

During her time in office, Shirley was a ferocious advocate for economic and social justice, fought for immigrant rights, and decried US involvement in the Vietnam War.

Obviously, she was a Democrat. And a feminist. And a bad ass.  

And four years later in 1972, she did something even crazier. She decided to run for president.

Her campaign slogan was “Unbought and Unbossed” and in one of her speeches she announced her intention to “change the face and future of American politics.”

Needless to say, it wasn’t easy.

READ ALSO: Black Women Who Slayed History: Ida B Wells

Multiple assassination attempts were made on her and she had to sue to make sure she wasn’t denied the right to participate in the televised debates.

Ultimately, while she did manage to win the NJ primary for the Democratic Party, she lost the candidacy to George McGovern, who went on to lose the presidency to tricky Dick Nixon.

As Chisholm reflected, the country wasn’t ready for a leader who wanted to “reshape our society,” and “there is little place in the political scheme of things for an independent, creative personality, for a fighter.”

Still, she paved the way for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and countless other boundary breaking politicians we’ll one day have the privilege of casting our ballots for.

Just, you know, fingers crossed they win and we don’t end up with another tricky dick or orange-colored bigot in charge of the country.

To read more about her, click here.

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