Thursday, February 9, 2017

Black History Month Celebrates Herstory,Shirley Chisholm

Metamora Herald Shirley Chisolm

By Kadir Nelson -, Public Domain,

Shirley St. Hill Chisholm was a very strong and intelligent black woman. She devoted her entire adult life fighting for the rights of children, poor people and education. She fought during a time in American history, when it wasn’t safe to vote in some parts of the country if you were black. People literally faced being beaten, sometimes to death, just for going to vote. Shirley didn’t shy away from the turmoils of the times. She dove in head first and made changes from inside the government. Shirley was born in 1924, in Brooklyn, New York to her immigrant parents. They had come here from the Caribbean region, and eventually, sent Shirley there to live with her grandmother and get a better education. Thankfully, her parents did that because it sparked her love of education at an early age. She became a nursery school teacher but continued to go to college and received her masters in elementary education. While running the nursery school, she became involved with child welfare and early childhood development. This made Shirley interested in politics.

She began as a Democratic member of the New York state assembly. Shirley was a part of the SEEK (Search for Education,Elevation and Knowledge) and got unemployment benefits extended to domestic employees. In 1968, she was elected as the Democratic National Committeewoman from New York State and ran for US House of Representatives from NY 12th congressional district. She was the first black woman in congress! She was however assigned to House Agricultural Committee and this was strange for her “city” district. She felt insulted. A friend mentioned to her to give the extra food to poor people and thus began what is now known as W.I.C (women infants children) program.

“Unbought and Unbossed” was her campaign slogan but despite her knowledge and experience she had trouble being taken seriously. Because of the difficulties she faced being a woman in congress she hired women to work in her office. She announce her bid for the presidency in 1972. This made her the 1st woman to run on the Democratic ticket and the 1st black person to run for the United States President. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get enough support and lost. But she continued on in congress until 1982 when she retired after “Reaganomics took over liberalism.”

Shirley finished out her years being involved with education, writing books, and still being active in politics. Her struggles and fights paved the way for many other people in government and education. Thank you Shirley for all your hard work!


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