Ashley E. Kingsley

Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbossed

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2008 at 4:10 pm

chisholm I know that I didn’t read the history books from cover to cover when I was a student. I did however, educate myself politically over the years and somehow, I missed Shirley Chisholm. How is that possible?  She was the first African American women to run for the Presidency of the United States in 1971.

Through The White House Projectand the Political Leadership Training, is where I learned of Shirley Chisholm and where the Documentary ‘Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbiased’ was featured.  I watched the documentary in awe and highly recommend you find it and watch it. It is one of the greatest clips of political history I have seen.  What I realized as I watched this film was how so littlehas changed, politically speaking. We were in Viet Nam in the lat 60’s and early 70’s and now in 2008 we have been in Iraq for five years… both  needlessly. We are watching a black candidate run for President and it is a really important time of transition.  How can we, as a country, as one of the richest and most developed nations in the world be in the very same place? I would have voted for Shirley Chisholm in the 1970’s. She was dynamic. She was a leader. Why do we always default to the white man? I wonder if things will change? Or do we continue to have the same wars, the same conflict, the same conversations?

Shirley Chisholm was the most dynamic candidate that I have seen in a long time. She spoke her mind and was incredibly strategic.  I haven’t in my lifetime witnessed such spunk in a candidate. She was indeed a trailblazer.


In 1964, Chisholm ran for and was elected to the New York State Legislature. She then ran as the Democratic candidate for New York’s 12th District congressional seat and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1968, defeating Republican candidate James Farmer and becoming the first African-American woman elected to Congress.

As a freshman, Chisholm was assigned to the House Agricultural Committee. Given her urban district, she felt the placement was a waste of time and shocked many by demanding reassignment. She was then placed on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Soon after, she voted for Hale Boggs as House Majority Leader over John Conyers. As a reward for her support, Boggs assigned her to the much-prized Education and Labor Committee; she was the third-highest ranking member when she retired.

Chisholm joined the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969, as one of its founding members. In 1972, she made a bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, receiving 152 delegate votes,[citation needed] but ultimately losing the nomination to South Dakota Senator George McGovern. Chisholm’s base of support was ethnically diverse and included the National Organization for Women. Among the volunteers who were inspired by her campaign was Barbara Lee, who would go on to become a congresswoman some 25 years later. (Currently, Barbara Lee has a couple of pieces of legislation that would honor Shirley Chisholm, including H Con Res 9, calling on the US Postal Service to create a stamp honoring her, and HR 176, which would create a program to encourage educational exchanges between the US and Caribbean nations.) Chisholm said she ran for the office

in spite of hopeless odds, . . . to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo.”

Chisholm created controversy when she visited rival and ideological opposite George Wallace in the hospital soon after his shooting in May 1972, during the 1972 presidential primary campaign. Several years later, when Chisholm worked on a bill to give domestic workers the right to a minimum wage, Wallace got her the votes of enough southern congressmen to push the legislation through the House. Throughout her tenure in Congress, Chisholm would work to improve opportunities for inner-city residents. She was a vocal opponent of the draft and supported spending increases for education, healthcare and other social services, and reductions in military spending. She announced her retirement from Congress in 1982, and was replaced by a fellow Democrat, Major Owens, in 1983. After leaving Congress, Chisholm was named to the Purington Chair at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she taught for four years. She was also very popular on the lecture circuit.

In February 2005, Shirley Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed, a documentary film [4] was aired on U.S. public television. It chronicles Chisholm’s 1972 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. It was directed and produced by independent, black woman filmmaker Shola Lynch. The film was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004. On, April 9, 2006, the film was announced as a winner of a Peabody Award.

Chisholm retired to Florida and died on January 1, 2005. She is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo.

  1. Well i miss her too, we need her – not to be assasinated by the American Media Complex.

    The Assassination of Shirley Chisholm…The Great EQUALIZER…and Reformer

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