How Shirley Chisholm Is Still Leaving Her Mark on Politics
The name Shirley Chisholm isn’t mentioned in most of our history books, and that’s a shame. Because as the first black woman to not only get elected to Congress, but also the first black woman to run for President, she was a true political pioneer.
And as crazy as it sounds, Shirley Chisholm didn’t just pave the way for politicians like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, she also has one or two things in common with Donald Trump.
Allow me to explain.
Shirley Chisholm was born on this day in 1924 in Brooklyn, New York where she eventually became a teacher before deciding 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 four years later in 1972, she did something even crazier. She decided to run for president.
“I ran for the Presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo,” Chisholm wrote in her book The Good Fight. “ I ran because somebody had to do it first. In this country, everybody is supposed to be able to run for President, but that has never really been true.”
Needless to say, it wasn’t easy.
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 that “there is little place in the political scheme of things for an independent, creative personality, for a fighter.”
Although there’s about zero chance that Chisholm would ever have supported Donald Trump, this year our nation proved it was ready for a leader with an independent personality with the goal of reshaping society who wasn’t a member of the elite political establishment.
And Donald Trump could just have easily made “Unbought and Unbossed” his campaign slogan instead of “Make America Great Again.”
Is he actually “unbought”? Hell no, but he has certainly claimed as much.
Not that we’re going to hold that similarity against her, it’s just a shame that out of the two candidates in this election that drew similarities to Chisholm, Donald was the one who won.
Then again, it’s hardly surprising. As Chisholm herself said, “I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black. Men are men.”