Shirley Chisholm


Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman in Congress (1968) and the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties (1972).

As a member in Congress, Chisholm introduced more than 50 pieces of legislation and championed racial and gender equality, the plight of the poor, and ending the Vietnam War. In 1977 she became the first Black woman and second woman ever to serve on the powerful House Rules Committee.

Discrimination followed Chisholm’s quest for the 1972 Democratic Party presidential nomination. She was blocked from participating in televised primary debates, and after taking legal action, was permitted to make just one speech. Still, after entering 12 primaries, she got 10% of the total delegate votes.

When she left Washington in 1982, she told the press: “I’ve always met more discrimination being a woman than being black.” Of her legacy, Chisholm said, “I want to be remembered as a woman … who dared to be a catalyst of change.”

New York Times Obituary