The Life of Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm was an American politician, author, and educator most known for her time as the representative for the 12th Congressional district of New York, making her the first black woman to hold a seat in Congress. She also was the first woman to run for in the Democratic presidential nomination as well as the first black major-party candidate for the position of President of the United States.
Early Life, Education, and Career
Shirley Chisholm was born on November 30, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York to immigrant parents from British Guiana and Barbados. Despite being born in the United States, her parents sent her to Barbados where she lived with her maternal grandmother for seven years.
After retuning, Shirley Chisholm attended Girls High School in Brooklyn and then continued her education at Brooklyn College, where she received her undergraduate degree in 1946. She went on to receive her Master’s degree in elementary education from Columbia University in 1952.
Upon graduation, Shirley Chisholm worked as a director from 1953 to 159 at the Hamilton Madison Child Care Center. She then worked as an educational consultant from 1959 to 1965 for the Division of Day Care.
Shirley Chisholm’s first move into politics was in 1964, when she was elected into the State Legislature of New York. Four years after, she ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives as the Democratic candidate for the 13th Congressional District of York, which she won. This made Shirley Chisholm the first black woman to hold an office in Congress. In 1969, she became a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
In her first term, Shirley Chisholm was assigned to the Committee on Agriculture, which was not as relevant to her since her district was in an urban setting. She asked to be reassigned, which surprised many people in Congress. Shirley Chisholm was then reassigned the Committee on Veteran’s Affairs and later the Committee on Education and Labor.
While in Congress, Shirley Chisholm made an effort to improve the lives for those in her district as well as other inner-city residents. She opposed the draft and supported increasing spending for health care, education, and other social services while reducing military spending.
During the United States presidential election of 1972, Shirley Chisholm decided to make a bid for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. While she did not win, she felt that this was a symbolic effort of her refusing to admit to a status quo. In 1977, she was elected as the Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus until 1981. The next year, she announced her retirement from the House of Representatives.
After her retirement, Shirley Chisholm still continued her career by teaching women’s studies and politics and Mount Holyoke College. She also participated in the campaign for Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. She was nominated to be the American Ambassador to Jamaica by President Clinton, but was unable to accept due to her health. In 1993 she was put into to the National Women’s Hall of Fame
Shirley Chisholm moved to Florida and passed away on January 1, 2005.