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Sun, 11.30.1924

America’s First Black Congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm born

Shirley Chisholm

This date marks the birthday of Shirley Chisholm in 1924. She was a Black teacher, administrator, and politician.

Shirley Anita Chisholm was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. As a young girl, she lived with her grandparents in Barbados, returning to New York and graduating from Brooklyn College with a B.A. in sociology. In 1952, she received her M.A. from Columbia University, soon beginning a career as a nursery school teacher and director.

In 1964, Shirley Chisholm was elected to the state assembly and four years later she was elected to Congress, representing New York’s 12th District. She was the first Black woman elected to Congress.

An outspoken opponent of the congressional seniority system, Chisholm was assigned to the committee on Agriculture and Forestry Subcommittee. She protested this as inappropriate for the representative of an inner city district and was transferred to the Veterans Affairs Committee. Among her efforts during her career, Chisholm called for an end to British arms sales to South Africa and proposed funding to extend the hours of child care facilities to include working mothers of middle and low income families.

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm ran for president as a Democrat, receiving 152 first ballot votes at the convention. She took on the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations over cuts in federal spending, minimum wage, fair housing, and education grants.

Chisholm declined to run for reelection in 1982, citing the growing conservative political atmosphere and her desire to return to private life. Shirley Chisholm died on New Year's Day, 2005

Black Americans In Congress, 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U. S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990
E185.96. R25

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