Thought of the Day 11.3.12 Shirley Chisholm


I don’t measure America by its achievement but by its potential.

The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: It’s a girl.

Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth.

–Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm, future member of the U.S. Ho...

Shirley Anita St. Hill  was born on this day in Brooklyn, New York, USA in 1924. Today is the 88th anniversary of her birth.
Her parents were recent immigrants to this country. Her father, Charles, was born in British Guiana, her mother, Ruby, was from Barbados. At three Shirley went to live with her Grandmother in Barbados.  She attended Vauxhall Primary School, in Christ Church.
“…I had my early education in the strict, traditional, British-style schools of Barbados. If I speak and write easily now, that early education is the main reason.” [Chisholm in her autobiography Unbought and Unbossed.]
At 10 she came back to the Brooklyn. She attended Girls High School, an integrated and prestigious public prep school in Brooklyn then earned her BA from Brooklyn College. She married Conrad Chisholm, a private investigator in 1949. In 1952 she received her Masters in elementary education from Columbia University.
Shirley Chisholm, Congresswoman from New York,...

Shirley Chisholm, Congresswoman from New York, looking at list of numbers posted on a wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chisholm spent six years as director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center then an addition six-year as consultant to the Division of Day Care before delving in politics.
After a few years in local New York politics Chisholm became the first black Congresswoman in the US House of Representatives in 1969. She served in the House for seven terms.
English: Founding members of the . Standing L-...

English: Founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Chisholm is seated in Orange.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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. [Biography.com]

In 1972 Chisholm entered the US presidential race as a candidate for the Democratic Party. She ran in 12 primaries and won three (Louisiana, Mississippi and New Jersey, garnering 152 delegates from an ethnically diverse base that spanned social economic backgrounds and the gender divide. She was an advocate for “minority education and employment opportunities, (and) also a vocal opponent of the draft.” [Ibid] She said she ran “in spite of hopeless odds… to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo.” She was the…

  • First African-American woman to seek a major party nomination for President of the United States (1972)
  • First woman to have her name placed in nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention
  • First African-American to be on the ballot as a candidate for President [About.com]
Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry and Shirley Chisholm a...

Gwendolyn Sawyer Cherry and Shirley Chisholm at the Democratic National Convention: Miami Beach, Florida (Photo credit: State Library and Archives of Florida)

Although she lost the nomination to George McGovern (who lost the election to incumbant Richard Nixon), Chisholm “had brought the voice of the disenfranchised to the forefront.” [Ibid]

Back in Congress she continued to fight for the poor and middle class. She  worked to get domestic workers a minimum wage and to improve opportunities for inner-city residents through better education, health care and social services. She was the author of a 1970 child care bill that was vetoed by President Nixon (he called it Sovietization of American children.)
Congressman Edlophus Towns (left) and his wife...

Congressman Edlophus Towns (left) and his wife, Gwen Towns (right) pose with former Congresswoman and Brooklyn native, Shirley Chisholm (center) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She retired from the House in 1982 and went back to education (with a little politicking on the side.) Shirley Chisholm died on New Years Day 2005 in Ormon Beach, Florida.
She was the author of two books, Unbought and Unbossed (1970) and The Good Fight (1973). [Biography.com]
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About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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