UPDATED: 10:15 a.m. ET, Nov. 30, 2020 —
On this day 96 years ago, a political and womanist icon was born. Shirley Chisholm went on to make history in 1968, becoming the first Black woman elected to Congress. At only 43 years old, she represented New York’s 12th Congressional District, an office she held for seven terms from 1969 to 1983.
On this date in 1968: Shirley Chisholm becomes the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I am the only unbought and unbossed politician, and I mean that literally.” pic.twitter.com/xAPEjfyvda
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) November 5, 2020
In 1972, she became the first African American major-party candidate to run for president of the United States and was also the first woman to ever run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Chisholm was a fearless fighter for education, voting rights, equality and was famously “unbought and unbossed.”
The trailblazing Black legislator was also widely seen as having helped pave the way for women politicians like Hillary Clinton.
Back in 2016, Dr. E. Faye Williams, president and CEO of National Congress of Black Women, and filmmaker Shola Lynch, producer of the documentary, “Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed,” joined Roland Martin on “NewsOne Now” to discuss Clinton’s becoming the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party and the role Chisholm played in helping to make the political milestone possible decades earlier.
I wouldn’t be here without my mentor, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. 52 years ago today, she became the first Black woman elected to Congress.
On the brink of the historic election of a Black woman as VP, I can't help but recognize who made this historic moment possible. pic.twitter.com/WMGf2nLUrC
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) November 5, 2020
Dr. Williams explained that Chisholm was a “catalyst for change,” and when she looks at what is happening with the Democratic Party and“Hillary Clinton cracking that glass ceiling,” she thought of Chisholm.
Dr. Williams said, “It was Shirley Chisholm who brought us to where we are. First of all, she paved the way for President Obama as well as (for) Hillary Clinton.
“Whatever Hillary Clinton is doing today, she can thank Shirley Chisholm for that.”
Lynch told Martin what often gets lost about Chisholm’s campaign is her “political strategy.” According to Lynch, Chisholm understood leverage and “did not wait her turn.”
OTD 1968, Shirley Chisholm Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress.
She went on to become the first woman and first Black to seek the presidential nomination from one of the 2 major political parties in 1972. Her motto –> Unbossed and Unbought. #Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/X4rmhqYX2w
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) November 5, 2020
“She acted on her conscience and she was a very progressive candidate –she was unbought and unbossed,” added Lynch.
The filmmaker explained that Chisholm secured as many delegates as possible to use as leverage prior to the ’72 convention and said there “was a scramble because there was no frontrunner” at the time.
Chisholm was able to fund her presidential campaign primarily with her savings as a school teacher; a feat that seems unfathomable in this day and age, when candidates raise hundreds of millions of dollars to run for public office.
Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to Congress and the first to campaign for the presidency. Beset by racist and sexist opposition, she advocated for poor inner-city residents, saying, “I am and always will be a catalyst for change.” #APeoplesJourney pic.twitter.com/kuxgTeKJ7E
— Smithsonian NMAAHC (@NMAAHC) August 6, 2020
Lynch then shared with viewers what she would like them to remember:
“When you have good ideas, you need to follow through, and if somebody tells you it’s not your turn, but you’re sure you’re right – then you got to be unbought and unbossed.”
Scroll down to keep reading and find some of Shirley Chisholm’s most inspirational quotes.
"You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas."— New-York Historical Society (@NYHistory) November 30, 2020
#OTD in 1924, "Fighting Shirley" Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress, was born in Brooklyn.
📷 With Rosa Parks, c. 1968. @librarycongress pic.twitter.com/VWmLNOH34Z
I always loved this Shirley Chisholm quote: “I am literally and figuratively a dark horse.” https://t.co/lNsiKYh2L7— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) July 12, 2016
Shirley Chisholm Quote pic.twitter.com/Ffapsb92sC— David O Valenzuela (@Yecora51) August 19, 2014
Our quote today is from the American politician and author Shirley Chisholm pic.twitter.com/3vACrLVNoN— Project Syndicate (@ProSyn) January 27, 2017
“Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.” A quote from Shirley Chisholm, presented by Rachel Thomas, Co-Founder and President of @LeanInOrg 👊💥 #RaiseYourVoice 👉 https://t.co/oh1F3Ujeli pic.twitter.com/UoOD2nEtsL— MAKERS (@MAKERSwomen) February 7, 2018