Though she’s usually remembered for her historic Presidential run, there’s much more to Shirley Chisholm’s incredible story. Here are 5 things you might not have known about her.
She was partially raised in Barbados.
At age five, she went to the island to live with her grandmother. Grandma instilled in her a deep self-love: “Granny gave me strength, dignity, and love. I learned from an early age that I was somebody."
She didn’t intend to go into politics.
Chisholm’s first career was in education. But she saw how necessary it was for her district to have real support - so she ran for New York State Assembly, won, and started her political rise.
She walked the talk.
Her time in congress was about uplifting women and people of color - and she proved it by hiring an all-woman staff, half of whom were Black women.
She built bridges across difference.
Known for her uncompromising attitude - she was “Unbought and Unbossed” after all - she nevertheless visited openly racist George Wallace, a fellow congressperson, in the hospital. Later, that relationship helped her pass a crucial minimum wage bill.
The opposition to her presidential campaign was fierce.
While campaigning for president in 1972, she faced opposition from all sides: the men in the Congressional Black Caucus, racist men AND women in both parties, war hawks upset with her anti-Vietnam stance, and voters concerned about “electability.”
But her run was about sending a message. “I want history to remember me... as a [B]lack woman who… dared to be herself… as a catalyst for change in America.”
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