Any African American figure
Shirley Chisholm was a brave activist with an unequaled and unparalleled moral sense and beliefs in the history of America. She spent her childhood at her grandmother’s place in Barbados. Her life experience at this place made her realize the importance of education. She termed education as the only weapon that could incorporate her with strong ideals to fight racism and gender discrimination. The education shaped her future career in politics. As a teacher, she developed strong leadership skills that made her concurrently involve with political agendas while at the same time doing her professional teaching. However, she was regarded as a handicap -black and a woman who could be accepted to take a high office position in the state. Despite the negative perception towards her, she had the courage to face political critics. Shirley Chisholm emerged as a staunch advocate of education opportunities, women empowerment in the state and racial equality between the black African-Americans and the white Americans. Her bid to vie for the presidency was a great decision that made people consider African-Americans especially women as potential candidates who have strong leadership just like native white Americans.
Born on the 30th day of November 1924 in the city of Brooklyn New York Shirley Chisholm is best known for becoming the black African American Congressional representative of New York State in 1968. She was a model of independence and honesty who advocated for civil rights, helping the poor and the rights of women in America without discrimination. Growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, she emerged as a national limelight due to her race, gender, and outstanding personality. Her parents had moved to New York in 1920s due to famines in their town. Later in 1927, Shirley and her sister relocated to Barbados to live with their grandmother until 1934 (“Biography in Context – Document”).
In New York, Shirley graduated from Brooklyn College. Her outstanding performance earned her a prize in debating. While in college, she was motivated by Professor Louis Warsolff to venture into politics due to her quick mind and good debating skills. Her outstanding performance in school earned her an opportunity to study a master’s degree in elementary education. When she was through with her education, Shirley got an opportunity to work as a nursery school teacher in various day care centers. Later, her reputation on early education earned her an authority as an educational consultant for the Bureau of child welfare from 1959 to 1964 (“Chisholm 72: Film Description | Chisholm ’72 | POV | PBS”). In 1968, Shirley was elected as the first African-American in the Congress. In her first of seven terms, she served in the House of Representatives whereby she was assigned to the House Committee on forestry. She was not comfortable with this appointment and she shocked many people by seeking reassignment. Later, she was placed on Agriculture Committee, a position she challenged taking into consideration that this assignment was not related to her urban district. She confronted the representative chair of House Ways and Means Committee, Wilbur Mills of Arkansas, who later considered her reassignment afterward. In 1949, she got married to Conrad who also had a stake in local politics. They later divorced after twenty-eight years of marriage.
However, she was later appointed on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. This offer opened an opportunity for her to advance in her political ideologies by graduating to education and Labor Committee. Her belief towards serving people was more important than rather than bowing to politicians. Being in charge of this Committee, she was in a position to fight against racism in employment opportunities whereby, most white-collar jobs were preserved for native white Americans. Most black African-Americans had to do the manual job in the region. In 1969, Shirley Chisholm with other members such as Cardiss Collins founded the Congress Black Caucus. This organization represented the interest of the black people in the Congress. The movement was formed for an activist to shun the discrimination against race. Notably, there was no white chamber of commerce for the advancement of white people in the Congress. The rapid increase in the number of African Americans serving in the Congress demanded a more unified movement for black legislators. This movement became popular whereby Charles C. Diggs, William Dawson, and Adam Clayton joined other black members and formed the largest delegation of African-Americans on Capitol Hill. In 1992, the number of black representatives in the movement rose to 13 making a history of the greatest number of black African-Americans to serve in the Congress. Shirley Chisholm’s contribution in the movement created an opportunity for African-Americans to have equal rights as other Americans in the Congress.
During her first term in the House of Representatives, Shirley devoted her commitment to the needs of the disadvantaged and the children and proclaimed to vote against all money bills for the departments of defense. Between 1971 and 1977, Shirley served on Education and Labor Committee by winning the panel with the help of Hale Boggs of Louisiana whom she endorsed as the majority leader. From 1977 to 1981, she served as the secretary to the Democratic caucus by quitting the education Committee roles. In 1977, she accepted the position on the Rules Committee and this made her the first black woman and the second as a woman ever to serve in this powerful panel in American history. Chisholm continued to devote her commitment to community activism. In 1978, she got married for the second time to Arthur Hardwick, a businessperson who later died in 1986 after suffering from a stroke. She had no child throughout her marriage life.
Notably, although she did not win the presidential nomination, she garnered 152 delegates and won the primaries in three states. This was an outstanding achievement and throughout her term, she made substantial contributions by passing a bill for minimum salaries and wages for families and domestic workers. She was strongly opposed to United States’ involvement in Vietnam War for the massive killings of innocent citizens. In 1983, she chaired Mt Holyoke College for five years. Apart from chairing the school, she taught politics and women studies. In the year 1991, she was nominated as the United State ambassador to Jamaica. In 1993, National Women’s Hall of Fame committee inducted her due to her worldwide struggle fighting racism. This institution honors people with an outstanding performance towards the State. Molefi Kete Asante, a famous scholar, and philosopher, rated her performance by listing her among the one hundred Greatest African Americans (“Shirley Chisholm Films You Can Watch Today And Those That Never Came To Be (Viola Davis Was Once Attached To One)”).
After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, Shirley together with Conyers resubmitted legislation for a national holiday in honor of the king. They tirelessly pressed for the legislation until it was passed in 1983. In 1992, she wrote two books together with her autobiography “unbought and unbossed” which she had used as her campaign slogan during her first race for congress (Chisholm, 13-19).
Through her work in the civil rights for African-Americans, Shirley became a strong woman who fought for the poor African-Americans and women. She was an activist for people of color; Native Americans and Spanish-speaking immigrants. She once said that due to the increasing immigration to the United State, America required to own up the new social and cultural challenges and the new Americans were to be integrated into the society. This was because most of the new immigrants were people of color-African American and therefore all groups in America were required to make cultural adjustments so that all people could live together as one nation without discrimination against gender and race. In her book “The Good Fight”, she expresses the reason for running for the presidency despite losing. She strongly believes that African Americans are just like the Native Americans and should be given equal opportunity. She said that the next time a black, or a woman any other person from the minor groups the country is not ready to elect to hold the highest office runs for the post, people should take him or her seriously from the beginning.
In conclusion, she started her own club “In Pursuit of the Highest in All” to accommodate African-Americans who were barred from joining social clubs at a college. Despite surviving three assassinations plans in her trailblazing campaign, Shirley Chisholm- an African American who devoted her efforts to fight for women and racism- died on January 1, 2005, in Ormond Beach, Florida after suffering from
“Biography In Context – Document”. Ic.Galegroup.Com, 2016, http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/bic1/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?failOver Type=&query=&prodId=BIC1&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&display- query=&mode=view&displayGroupName=Reference&limiter=&currPage=&disableHig hlighting=true&displayGroups=&sortBy=&search_within_results=&p=BIC1&action=e& catId=GALE%7CMYKYZH204359609&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE %7CK1606003074&source=Bookmark&u=morenetfznms&jsid=bb4881d8ac67ae14a157 882c8dd65a02
“Chisholm 72: Film Description | Chisholm ’72 | POV | PBS”. POV | American Documentary Inc., 2016, http://www.pbs.org/pov/chisholm/film-description/.
“Shirley Chisholm Films You Can Watch Today And Those That Never Came To Be (Viola Davis Was Once Attached To One)”. Shadow And Act, 2016, http://shadowandact.com/2016/06/08/shirley-chisholm-films-you-can-watch-today-and- those-that-never-came-to-be-viola-davis-was-once-attached-to-one/.
Chisholm, Shirley. Unbought and Unbossed: Expanded 40th Anniversary Edition. Take Root Media, 2010.13-19.